A quick spin around the garden….

My garden is smallish and nothing special at all –  but it is organic.  Always has been, for 20 odd years.

I don’t worry about snails and slugs. They can get on and do what they do. I don’t grow hostas any more because the slugs loved them just too much and turned them into lace, which while pretty, wasn’t the point.

I do worry about birds. I worry about the extraordinary and disappointing change in the bird landscape of the average garden.

I worry especially because the other morning, sitting in bed, I heard a loud and lovely song from outside the window.  I had no idea what it was.  Too hearty for a warbler, but more melodic than a blackbird. A complex song.  I rushed to get the binocs and there it was, sitting singing its heard out on the very top of a neighbour’s tree;  a mistle thrush.

I was ashamed of myself for not knowing it. But thinking about it, I reckoned it was about ten years since I’ve seen a pair of mistle thrushes in the garden.  Song thrushes occasionally, yes, but not mistle thrushes.

Yet when I was young, in the garden of the family home ten miles away, mistle thrushes, song thrushes, chaffinches, bullfinches, was seen most days. Thrushes were as common as blackbirds.  Bullfinches wiped out now, chaffinches surviving but not as numerous.  So what happened?  Garden chemicals.  Evil blue slug pellets, that’s what.   So a lot’s changed.  Happily the humble dunnock seems to thrive in the garden here, along with blue tits and great tits, house sparrows, and hedge sparrows, wood pigeons, starlings with occasional visits from goldcrests and goldfinches. Blackbirds are nesting in the holly bush in one corner and two fat wood pigeons have nested on some spindly wobbly branches that overlook the path to my favourite sitting/dining spot. Doh.

The bird table attracts bigger birds too.  A sparrowhawk called in once and we saw it plucking its freshly killed blue-tit prey while sitting on our back fence.  Red in tooth and claw.  Fair enough.  The whole garden is a bird table, come to that.  Plenty of times herons have plundered the pond. Quite something to see the speed of attack and how quickly they’re back into the air.

Anyway, that’s enough fauna – apart from the frogs, of course, the handsome frogs dappled black and yellow and green from their hiding place under a big patch of variegated ivy – so on to the flora.

There’s some fruit;  a spartan apple tree on a medium kind of stock, so it’s compact and controllable and a Victoria plum which is a bit neglected, in the corner but keeps on trying.

There are shrubs – planted mostly for fragrance – Rosa rugosa, orange blossom, jasmine, Viburnum burkwoodii, plus Hypericum Hidcote, Acer palmatum dissectum by the pond, which is probably my favourite shrub of all because of it’s beautiful leaf shape, the autumn colours and the way it looks rounded, soft, graceful and generally lovely.  Ooh Inearly forgot the trees – the magnolia which I’ve pictured in a previous blog – and an Indian Bean tree which has leaves like large floppy lime-green handkerchiefs.  It’s young and it hasn’t flowered yet but we live in hope.

I like sitting in the garden, watching the life in the pond, damselflies, dragonflies that hover at eye level, regarding you with their incredible complex eyes, pond skaters, water boatmen, the whirlybugs that sometimes get trapped in the waterlily flowers, but I don’t do much gardening.  A bit of a blitz twice a year and some tidying in between but that’s it.

Here are a few images of some of what’s flowering at the moment, taken yesterday. Just arrived back from a run and the sky was cerulean blue and the sun was lighting everything beautifully so I grabbed the camera.

The cherry tree is a Kanzan. Common as muck but blousy and beautiful.  It’s a big tree now.  I hate having it pruned but about two months ago, it was cut back professionally by a guy I trusted (because he could see just where it was pruned about six years ago) and thankfully,  it’s still covered in flower buds which are just opening.

Kanzan Japanese cherry blossom








Bumble bee - female





Bum-blebee rear view









About janh1

Part-time hedonist.
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7 Responses to A quick spin around the garden….

  1. isobelandcat says:

    Hang about! I’ve just seen these photos and words somewhere else!
    I like the ‘bumblebee – rear view’ caption!

  2. sabina says:

    Ah what beautiful pictures Jan.
    You are a very accomplished photographer by the looks of it. My photos never come out looking like this.
    Have been busy over the weekend and have just logged on. Daughter and her husband were here for the weekend. And then his sister and her family,who live near the city of Bath,came for lunch yesterday. So we had eight people for lunch. We all sat around the table on the patio, and ate and drank a lot! And of course laughed a lot too.
    Lovely blog and description too.

    • janh1 says:

      Ah you found them, Sabina. Sounds like you’ve had a lovely weekend. Perfect weather for it.

      We were invited next door for a christening do. Had a large glass of wine and felt squiffy until 4pm! Lightweight or what? 🙂

  3. christa says:

    I am not sure if I should reply here or on the MyT site. I have been so busy recently with the garden and other things and have not kept up with your blogs. I have put up some of my hellebores there but I was planning to get the paints out and NOT get waylaid by the internet.
    It such an interesting blog and I can just imagine you out in your garden relaxing after a bike ride!
    Art class is tomorrow and I do not want to say that I have done nothing once again.

    • janh1 says:

      Hi Christa! Glad you found this. I will go look at your hellebores. The bee is investigating one of mine but I temporarily forgot the name so didn’t go into details 🙂

      Well the garden’s the place where the bike gets washed and dried after a ride – then I can sit down, although today I was mostly pruning.

      What are you up to at art class? Watercolours? Life drawing?

  4. christa says:

    I usually have a quick look at MyT at this time while having a coffee. Nothing there that really grabbed me so had another look at your beautiful pictures. Rain again today, but I am quite pleased as things were getting dried out. I plant so much into pots because of the wet conditions, but if we do get drought then they quickly dry out. That is how I keep my hostas fairly slug free. But I usually find a slug lurking underneath.
    I will write about my garden birds, but not today too busy. I have been going to art classes for a few years now. I was very myopic and about four years ago my sight got really poor. Not new glasses but cataract surgery. It made me a new woman. No need to search for glasses first thing.
    I had always wanted to draw and now I could see properly. No more dithering. Unfortunately this is not an “arty” area and there are not many classes. I like drawing best but am now struggling with water-colours. Last week we did a drawing of a couple of boats, yesterday I did a painting, not very good, still with practice perhaps one day I will achieve something to be proud of!

  5. janh1 says:

    Hi Christa – glad you like the pics. Dry day here but working, so a bit of a waste. 🙂 Yes I tried hostas in pots but they did turn to lace quite rapidly. Reminded me of Miss Haversham plants with the white flowers and lacy leaves.

    I’m envious of your art classes. Used to be my Weds afternoon treat when I worked part time. Watercolours and drawing were my things. Pen and wash turned out quite well for the little sketches.

    Good to hear that surgery improved your eyesight hugely, Christa. Do persevere with watercolours. Less is more. A good teacher helps. My teacher let us get on with stuff a bit too much – not enough actual teaching and direction. I’m sure you will achieve plenty to be proud of, Christa. If you’re feeling brave, post some pics of your work – or email me. I’m really interested in seeing it.

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