An update

Hello again! May I introduce you to our resident Great Spotted Woodpecker. He spends a lot of time in our garden and in the trees on the bank above our house. Take a good look at the picture and you can see that he is hanging onto the fat feeder with one claw! Yes, he only has one leg. He’s been hanging around since last autumn, so he made it through the winter and he’s a lovely sight to see. He seems to be able to feed himself well enough, in spite of his disability, but from watching how difficult it is for him to perch on a branch I doubt if he will be able to mate or rear offspring.

These are scary times. We have been staying at home and trying to get on with jobs. I have to admit I am bored. I would love to go out for a ride in the car, or visit a friend, or take a trip to another part of the country. But I know that this is going to have to wait till the Covid crisis is over.

At present all we can do is phone, text, email, and skype our friends while we tidy, sort, file, clean and garden. So gardening and and observing the plants and animals in the garden have become even more important than usual.

Let’s start with the pots in front of the shed. In autumn I planted up lots of bulbs. The daffs are in full bloom now, and they have two or three flowers on each stem. The tulips I planted below the daffs are almost ready to bloom, so we should have a good show by next week.

The acer that the Turners gave us is just budding now. Paul will be pleased to see that I have weeded out most of the ground elder!

Unfortunately, I also sprained my knee while doing the weeding here, so I’ve had a good excuse to avoid kneeling for the last few days!

Along the edge of the stream I have been doing a lot of clearing. I daren’t dig out the brambles as I’m afraid they are keeping the stream bank together, but by cutting them back I’ve exposed the shrubs and other plants which are growing there.

As the garden grows towards it’s flowering peak in May we can see the other acer is also putting out its leaves. These are a gorgeous deep red which will soon be complimenting the azaleas and rhodedendrons that surround them.

On the right of the above set of pictures you can see a new arrival. This suddenly appeared in the garden for the first time this year. From the oniony smell of the leaves and the bulbils on the flower stalk I decided it’s an allium, but I was a bit dismayed to find out it’s the invasive Allium paradoxum or “few-flowered leek”. Two clumps have appeared this spring in different parts of the garden. The good news is that you can keep it under control by eating it!

The early daffodils are starting to fade now and I’ve been deadheading them, but there are still plenty about and there are some lovely varieties.

Meanwhile in the mini meadow we now have cowslips and the red currants are blooming.

Gooseberries are blossoming and the apple flower buds are swelling, too. However, this plant with the lovely blue flowers is the dreaded green alkanet – attractive in small quantities, but unfortunately it won’t stay in one place!

Another flower is doing it’s thing at the bottom of the garden right now. This is Erythronium ‘pagoda’. It’s a relative of the dog-toothed violet here in the UK and of the Trout Lily in the US. Every year it seems to be getting bigger and stronger, and while it doesn’t last long it is truly beautiful while it’s out.

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