Iris danfordiae

Above: Iris danfordiae

Garden diary: January

Friday 23 February 2007 - Emerging from hibernation

I've emerged from under the pile of leaves I've been hibernating in over the winter, and find it's rather springlike already, even though it's not March yet, and is still officially winter.

The creatures in the garden are behaving like it's spring, getting on with their usual seasonal thing. This morning, looking out of the kitchen window, I saw a pair of frogs, locked in a mating position, in the middle of the garden path. Whereas the birds start acting in a giddy and excited way at mating season, frogs always look rather stoical and slightly bored, whatever they're doing, and this pair were no different.

They disappeared later, presumably remembering that they needed some water. I couldn't see them in the pond, but I think perhaps they hide, thinking "stop staring at us will you? And stop pointing that camera at us, you pervert!"

Mating frogs on garden path

I did get a photo of them on the path. It's not one of my best photos, but then I didn't want to get so close as to loom over them and scare them.


A similarly unartistic photo was taken yesterday through the kitchen window of a blackcap, which is an occasional birdie visitor. In fact, this winter, has become quite a common visitor, but usually hanging around the apples that are left on the tree. On this occasion it was eating sunflower seed from the paths under the bird feeders.

Please ignore the state of the path in both these photos - it's muddy, strewn with garden debris and bird seed, and needs a clean. As do the windows I took the photos through.


It is a generally muddy and somewhat drab time of the year, wildlife happenings aside. I think some of my hellebores have died, and I couldn't find any Iris reticulata in the bulbs boxes at the garden centre last autumn, so there's not much flowering apart from snowdrops. I'm thinking about throwing lots of things away that I don't particularly like, and buying just one or two new plants that I do like, and giving all of them a bit more space.

I also need to replace some trellising, and then there are the boring things you notice in winter when the foliage cover is gone. I've noticed that the ridge tiles on the shed roof are shedding lumps of mortar and that it may be advisable to repoint these areas soon. Though how anyone could approach the task through the tangle of particularly thorny things growing up there I'm not sure. I suppose I might have to cut the pyracantha all back, which seems annoying when it's the one that didn't produce any berries at all until last year - when it reached roof level.

Enough of that bricks and mortar stuff. There are narcissi in bud in pots by the door - I'll look at those instead.

I've done some pruning, bits and pieces, mainly the rampant ivy on the wall. I was sussing out the job and whether I'd be able to reach it all without a ladder, when I noticed a funny-looking bird nearby in the tangle of akebia. Closer inspection revealed it wasn't a bird with a strangely-shaped head, but a female blackbird whose head was almost totally obscured by a huge beakful of nesting materials.

I thought I'd best get on with the pruning without further ado - the birds were already thinking about nesting in all the places I'd planned to prune. This seemed a good excuse to scale down the anticipated pruning work to a more manageable workload, and just "tidy up a bit". And have lots of cups of tea, and stare at it a lot, which is of course an important part of gardening.

Back to February highlights and diaries


Iris reticulata

Above: Iris reticulata

Garden diary: March