Friday, April 16, 2021

In the Garden

 How lovely the weather has been this week.  Walks have been taken and gardening done once the early morning frost has disappeared.

Flowers are appearing on the Amelanchier tree.
 

On the bird feeders we had a visit from a Siskin

This is a rare occurance.  Apologies for the not very clear photo it was taken through the window.

Last evening both male and female chaffinch visited spending time in the Tamarisk tree.  Only the female allowed herself to be photographed, the male hid away although I could spot his pink chest between the branches.

In the greenhouse Freesias have appeared.  We set the seeds last year and forgot about them so it was a surprise to see so much colour suddenly appear.


Also in the greenhouse Yellow Rattle.  Again we planted seed last year not knowing if they would be successful.

I've been checking the leaf shape against the  drawing in the wildflower book.  It seems they are Yellow Rattle.

Next week we have a skip arriving so we can clear the top of the garden of unwanted debris from the last of the Leylandii trees, old pieces of wood and logs.  We'll be keeping a few back to make a log pile for frogs, newts and other creatures, the shed will eventualy be taken down and a new one placed in a different part of the garden closer to the house and a meadow area under the small birch tree will be made including the yellow rattle and wild garlic that is already there.
 
Lots of work to be done.  Let's hope the sun keeps shining.

A Woodland Walk

Tuesday was such a lovely day that we decided, now that a few restrictions have been lifted, to go just a little further afield for a walk.  All the walks we've taken over the last few months have been on foot from home but we went in the car, all of three miles and still in the confines of the city, to the local bluebell woods.

Hem Heath Woods are on the site of the old Hem Heath colliery and are managed by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust.  You can park either side of the woods off the Trentham Road opposite the Hem Heath Public House or at the other side of the woods at the Wedgwood factory, museum and visitor centre. 


In a couple of weeks there will be lots and lots of bluebells and we will go back to see them as we missed them last year during lockdown.  I was looking for Wood Anemones but didn't see any.  We did find one or two clumps of bluebells.

Also lots of Lesser Celandine.

It was quiet in the woods.  Birds were singing and wrens, jays, robins, blue tits, wood pigeons, blackbirds, nuthatch and thrushes were spotted.  Most of them succesful at evading our cameras.

Pathways have been improved since our last visit.


The ground was firm underfoot.


We sat and watched the moorhens on the pond.


Skies were blue through the still wintry looking trees.




Thrush


It was wonderful to be out and about somewhere different even if just for an hour or two.
 

Friday, April 09, 2021

Five Things Friday

1. The Easter Weekend passed by so quickly.  The weather was good, we managed a walk each morning in the bright sunshine and blustery winds.  The snowy, sleety weather forecast for Monday actually came to us on Tuesday but didn't stay long.

 
2. It's so good to have open spaces within walking distance of home and between us and the city centre where we can take a breath of fresh air.
 

On one of our walks, down the lane and across the fields we spotted two wrens, a dunnock, a robin, many crows, magpies and  gulls, a kestrel and a skylark.  Paul took the photo of the skylark.
 
3. On Monday evening around 6.30p.m. I was looking out of the kitchen window whilst washing the pots and a fox ran across the lawn carrying in her mouth what I at first thought was a cat but quickly realised it was a fox cub. 
 

 I shouted Paul to bring his camera as I had a feeling she was moving dens and that there may be more cubs to retrieve.  She carried three more across the garden so we now know there are four cubs.  One more than last year.  
 
 
I don't know what happened to make her move her cubs across two or three gardens but she must have felt threatened or in danger to be out in the light of day.   It took her about a quarter of an hour to rescue them all, rushing backwards and forwards at full pelt.  They now seem to be back in the old den across the hedge in a wild area at the back of the school.
 
4.  Just down in the town at the Gladstone Pottery Museum, which recently featured on channel four's 'The Great Pottery Throwdown', more filming is happening.  This time it is a Sky original film about Clarice Cliff.  Called 'The Colour Room.'  It is about her early years and her rise to fame in the 1930s with her colourful 'Bizarre' ware.  Apparently the two lead roles have gone to actors from Downton Abbey and Bridgerton.  I don't know if I'll ever see it as we don't have Sky, perhaps it will become available on other sources eventually.
 
The photos below were taken in August 2009 


5.  In a rainy garden plants are coming to life 
 
Honesty, Lupin, Spirea, Peony and Wild Garlic.  The strawberry plants are again looking fresh and green and there is a hint of blossom on the plum tree but we have lost a Ceanothus plant from the front garden, it was one of those low, creeping ones with  pretty pale blue flowers.  We now have a big space to fill.

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Into April, Rhubarb and Violas

April is here.  What does it hold?  More lockdown restrictions removed at some point, I think the 12th.  Second Covid vaccinations on the 28th which is also our wedding anniversary.  Well at least we'll be going out somewhere😊
  


 The first sticks of garden rhubarb are ready for picking and eating. 


Normally I would make a crumble but I decided to try something different this time.

The rhubarb was stewed in a pan with a little water then left to cool.  I mixed up the layered yoghurt and then layered it again in a glass with the cooked rhubarb.  It was a light and delicious pudding after our evening meal.

I couldn't resist the two little pots of Violas for just £1 each.


I loved the colour and their little 'faces' just appealed to me and said take us home.  So I  did.
 
A friend sent me a story he had written which made me smile. I sent him one back in which I ressurected a character I'd used in a previous story and set her in an orchard at blossom time.  The past two or three days have been lovely and warm.  Gardening has been done and the pond has been cleaned.  Some of the huge water lily that had taken over and spread into many plants was pulled out.  It needs a lake not a pond.  The newts, pond snails and insects were happy.  On Monday and Tuesday we were visited by a bright yellow Brimstone butterfly, it flitted and flapped around the garden, never settling.  Good to see it though.
 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Blossom

 Yesterday's walk took us down through the local recreation ground at the bottom of which is the fairly new, colourful building belonging to the Clarice Cliff Primary School - which is now an Academy sponsored by the Co-op.  The recreation ground which is maintaianed by the City Council houses a football pitch, a netball court and a children's play area with the usual swings, slides and bouncy chickens.  It is also very popular with local dog walkers. In the centre with paths either side is an area of trees mostly pear and crab apple.

The pear trees were in blossom and looking wonderful. 




At home in the conservatory the sweet pea seedlings I showed you in my last post have grown enough to be planted in a larger pot using the twine or 'twool' that was included in the seed pack.

Eight out of ten of the seeds have germinated and there are five in this pot.  The other three are taking a little longer to grow.


March is nearly at an end.  Did it come in like a lion or a lamb?  I can't remember.  It has gone by so quickly.  From the weather reports it looks as if it is going to depart in lamb like fashion so perhaps it did roar as it came in. The clocks spring forward this weekend and next weekend is Easter.  Time is racing on.  I have the ingredients to make a Simnel cake and when I was searching the cupboards for something else I came across the Easter decorations.
 

I need to find a suitable twig from the garden to hang them on. 

Yesterday it rained for most of the day.  There was frost this morning and although the sun is bright at the moment it is bitterly cold with a harsh wind.  I think the day needs to warm up a little before we venture out for today's walk.

We put the wildlife camera out a couple of times this week.  It has captured visits to the food bowl from three different foxes one with a limp - holding up it's front left leg - three different badgers including the pale, female one, crows, magpies, blackbirds and of course a few of the local cats, some of them in the collage below.

We know them all by sight and all but one by name - Dolly, Mabel, Sox, Peanut and Pip.  I wonder what the white and black cat by the pond is called? It visits most days to sit there.
 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Park and Garden

The last few days have been wild and windy here.  Plant pots, bird feeders, bits of fence, wheel barrows  and wheelie bins have been on various trips around the garden.  They are all safely back in their places - for now.

In the garden the Grape Hyacinth (Muscari) have flowered. I love their bright blue colour. 

When I ordered bird nibbles on line I also treated myself to some Sweet Pea seeds.  They came with wool twine called Twool with which to tie the flowers and stems to the wigwam canes.

The seeds were planted a few days ago, there were ten in all and three of them are showing little shoots.


Also growing well are the little tomato shoots.  There are several varieties, all labelled, including Gardener's Delight, Tigrella and Mini Munch.

On Tuesday morning we walked down to the local park.  it was quite warm and sunny.  Spring hasn't quite sprung there yet but there were a few encouraging signs.

Blue Skies

Hellebore

Crocus
 
Daphne
 
I was also spotting things as we walked towards the park.

I liked all the chimneys on these houses.

A little cat hiding behind the railings in the park.

The gold tops of the railings were glinting in the sun.

The terraced houses above were built for pottery workers to live in, just as the public parks were built for their leisure.  There were lots of pottery factories in the area around here.  Many of which still stand others have been demolished.

 Writing this has reminded me that this Sunday is the final of   'The Great Pottery Throwdown' filmed at the nearby Gladstone Pottery Museum.  I've been enjoying watching this series as much if not more than the previous three which were filmed further North in the city at Middleport Pottery.  We've also been enjoying 'The Great British Dig' and 'Grayson Perry's Art Club.'  I've been enjoying the new series of 'Unforgotten' and am looking forward to the return of 'Line of Duty' next week.

Tomorrow I will have been writing this blog for sixteen years. It doesn't seem possible for it to have been that long ago - Monday 14th March 2005 - when I wrote my first post.