Helleborus orientalis

Above: Helleborus orientalis 'Harvington White'

Garden diary: February

Wednesday 22 March 2006 - long cold winter

I've been ill with some winter bug for the last week or more, but even if I'd been healthy and full of energy I'd have found it difficult to get any gardening done. It's been really cold and horrible, with nasty northerly winds and low temperatures. I thought it was maybe just my impression that it's been particularly bad this year, but reassuringly I've found backup on the BBC Weather pages, which use data from the Met office. They must know what they're on about. And the monthly outlook page for the UK says: "So far, this March has been the coldest for the best part of 20 years."

And in my obsession with weather facts, I've also found on the Year in Review page, that in England and Wales it was "the coldest February since 1996". I started gardening here in late 1996, so I guess that means then that it's been the coldest February for me as a gardener here. Hoping all the plants have weathered it.

A couple of days ago it was the spring equinox, which I guess I should mention as spring has now officially begun. I also like to mention it as equinox is a lovely word, and one we don't get chance to use very often. Only twice a year, in fact.

It's still really cold but the sky is blue and I'm hoping the sunshine will make it more pleasant as I attempt to tackle some pruning.

Monday 13 March 2006 - Goldfinch numbers up

A nice positive story about these cheery red-faced garden birds. Goldfinches have been discussed on this site and are regular visitors to the garden, though it wasn't always so.

Once valued as caged birds, but now valued as they should be, in their natural state of flying about freely - and visiting our gardens in growing numbers. Their numbers growing because we're feeding them their preferred food. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4779170.stm for more.

The creatures are ready for spring

It's really cold still - the weather's been grim for weeks. I've managed one day of gardening when it wasn't quite as bitter and wasn't snowing/raining. Despite my impression that it's very much still winter, the creatures out there have been carrying on as they normally do around now, and preparing for spring.

The birds are singing from rooftops and treetops, and a particularly enthusiastic blackbird has woken up this household and probably the whole street several times recently, with early-morning singing. Not just singing, but that rather clattering alarm-like call.

Last week, one dark evening while I was walking down our street I found a frog in the middle of the pavement, just after we'd had rain. The frog was pointing in the direction of our house. This may just have been coincidence. But the following day, early evening, when the front door had been left open temporarily, a frog was discovered on the doormat in our hallway. This was carefully placed in the back garden, where we assumed it was heading, towards the pond. The same evening, much later, another frog was sitting on the front doorstep. This one hopped off before it could be assisted.

I assume that any frogs in search of the pond will want to take the quickest route, and this is, as the crow flies (or the frog hops), straight through our house, down the hallway. Hence the visitor, I guess. The front door probably is more or less in line with the pond. Though they could go around the long way and get in through the numerous gaps under nearby gates and fences - presumably how they get out of the garden in the first place.

It's rather intriguing though. If there are any more frogs on the doorstep I think I might open the door and see where they go - whether they really are somehow magnetically attuned to the location of the pond. Or whether they just want to come inside and watch TV.

Back to March highlights



Above: Narcissus

Garden diary: April