This week our weather still remains cool and changeable. Our Robin friend is run-ragged (literally) collecting grubs and worms for what I assume is a nest full of chicks. He enjoyed searching in some soil that I was turning over today. He appears to have a preference for grubs, including leatherjackets (though one was left behind as I think it was just too big) over worms. The fork handle proved to be an excellent spotting post.
Second this week are bumblebees. Numbers are increasing slowly with plenty queen bees still around. The kale flowers are proving popular as always. I try to leave some kale and other brassicas to flower each year as a bee food.
Third this week, is red campion. I love this wildflower as it adds so much colour to an area under a hedgerow, not far from the kitchen window.
Fourth this week are Rowan flowers.
Perennials are a little behind this year but the lupins are not far off flowering now.
And finally this week sage . This one is in the greenhouse. It will be a couple of weeks before the outside ones have flowers.
Regular readers will know I have written before about our Robin Friend. One great advantage of having a robin that is near-tame is that he allows us to get up real close. He was quite comfortable to preen away, with me standing right beneath him.
We have snow forecast for the end of the week, but it may not get this far west. Meanwhile spring continues to show her face.
1. Crocus, the yellow ones always bring a little bit of spring sunshine even on a grey day.
2. Willow catkins. This one is Salix x rubra I think. Always the first to show. And in recent years it seems to be coming out earlier than ever. I like the willows to be of use to emerging queen bumblebees – but this one is too early now.
3. Daffodil. Just two blooms so far. But more on the way.
4. Robin friend has already teamed up with a mate, but still comes for meal worms. We have also discovered that it likes raisins which we had left out for the blackbirds.
5. The bird feeders remain busy.
6. We have been doing quite a bit of apple and pear tree pruning. In some circumstances being quite extreme. Hoping for more fruit this year.
Finally a dry Saturday and time to get out into the garden. Lots and lots of tidying up to do.
So first this week Worcester berries V Juvenile blackbird. A few weeks ago I posted about the still green Worcester berries. Well they are ripening nicely, but the juvenile blackbirds that was helping itself to blackcurrants last week, also appears to have a taste for Worcester berries. We picked about half a pound today for ourselves and hoping that we can harvest some more that still need a few days to ripen before the blackbird eats them all!
2. Meanwhile Robin friend (my daughter’s name for our friendly robin who will feed from her hand), appears exhausted after his/her brood has successfully fledged. We’ve seen it with two young ones. Here it was having a peaceful preen away from hectic family life.
3. Bee numbers are definitely down after a few miserable weeks but this garden bumble bee was enjoying what remains of the foxgloves.
4. Some of the self-seeded borage is now flowering in the vegetable patch and these always prove popular with the bees too.
5. Gypsophila – looking nice in a pot with some other flowers.
6. And finally for this week some brassicas – a mix of red cabbage and brussel sprouts plants which have enjoyed the rain.
Thanks to The Propagator for hosting Six on Saturday.
One advantage with being in lock-down is there is no where to go but the garden, so work begun today clearing vegetable beds of weeds. The weather is still pretty cool so I am struggling getting things germinated. I was trying to be optimistic today and planted some radishes and mustard greens outside in one of the newly prepared beds.
Meanwhile we enjoyed some purple sprouting broccoli for dinner.
2. The false quince has some flowers but not many – I hope more will appear.
3. Meanwhile in the greenhouse, the comfrey plant that grows there is just starting to flower.
4. In the garden the crab apple is leafing up and it is still one of our friendly robin’s favourite trees.
5. Under the willow tree, the wild garlic is coming on nicely and we should have flowers soon.
6. And finally the drumstick primrose is doing it’s thing too.
Red isn’t the commonest colour in nature – but here are just a few examples. Firstly the Red Admiral butterfly – more brown and black than red, but still a striking beauty.
Secondly, a goldfinch. Not exactly gold – why it wasn’t called a red faced finch I do not know as that is one of it’s most striking characteristics. These finches come to the bird feeders only a couple of times a day. Which is probably just as well as they are feisty little fellows, and they try and keep the other birds away while they are there.
Next our cheeky robin friend. Here in Ireland robin’s are sometimes called Robin Red Breasts.
This is a sundew. A tiny, but extraordinary plant that grows in our bogs. Those sticky leaves, traps insects and then digest them!
And finally Robin’s pincushion. Nothing to do with robins, it is in fact a rose bedeguar gall, formed when a gall wasp lays her eggs, usually on a wild rose stem. When the grubs hatch they produce a chemical which produces this abnormal growth.
After storms and very wet weather the garden is pretty much sodden. Then last night a sharp frost has left everything frozen solid. It was minus 4.5 degrees Celsius this morning – not often we get it that cold here in the west of Ireland.
Poor robin was feeling the cold – all fluffed out trying to keep warm. We put extra food out this morning for all the birds.
2. The pond is frozen too. We did a bit of pond maintenance last week – taking out quite a lot of sedges that had spread through the shallower end and bog bean which had taken over half the deep end. It looks quite a bit better.
Pond – frozen
3. I wonder if the honeysuckle is now regretting send out leaves?
4. The creeping raspberry looks very pretty with its frosted fringe. This is a good ground cover plant but we have never got any fruit from it. The bees do like the flowers though.
Creeping Raspberry, Rubus nepalensis (I think)
5. The poultry were finding it cold this morning too. Nelson (our drake) kept walking a few steps and then sitting down as if he was trying to warm his feet. Junior, the cockerel was crowing standing on one foot.
6. And finally our roof is looking a bit like a green roof at the moment. Possibly because of the really wet winter it seems to have become populated with lots of moss. I don’t really mind – it looks pretty.
Santa was very kind and brought me a new lens (40-150mm) for my camera. So I have been trying it out and am very happy. The garden birds are great subjects – if you can get close enough.
The bird feeder is a great place to get them. We take part in the garden bird survey every year which is hosted by Bird Watch Irelandand record the birds in our garden from December to February. Many counties have similar citizen science surveys (e.g. RSPB in the UK).
Our friendly robin is an even better subject, because we can get really close.
This chaffinch I photographed through the kitchen window.