Sunday, 24 January 2010

Spring is here!

Well OK, indications that the year has turned are here. I should have taken the picture of the winter aconites while the sun was shining, when they would probably have been rather more open, but we were pretty busy working on the greenhouse, so I forgot.

However, aconites always make me think that even if spring isn't actually here yet, and we still have February to get through, it really won't be long before we can sit on the patio and enjoy a glass of chilled white as the sun goes down. Which is what gardening is all about, after all!

The greenhouse saga is that when we moved into this house in 1986 a couple of the panes were cracked and then I grew two grapevines, which required me to remove the corners from a couple more panes.

Gradually over the years, other panes have cracked, but it all came to a head in December, when half a pane fell right out, leaving a 60 x 30 cm space for the wind to howl through. I rapidly filled it with bubblefilm, but then during the Christmas break we actually went and bought the necessary 7 panes of glass to fix it all up. Didn't quite get around to fitting them, but at least we had them on site.

Yesterday we got going and it really isn't that hard, once you've worked out how the little wire clips work. Jenny got on scraping out moss and gloop from the corners, then started washing decades-worth of algae from the remaining glass, while I cracked on (sorry!) replacing panes. And it was all going swimmingly until Jenny managed to break one of the remaining good panes. Well, that's how life is. I was just grateful I didn't cut myself. Sharp edges do tend to result in blood with monotonous regularity and it was something of an achievement to avoid that this time!

Anyhow, today we did the rest of the panes, bought and fitted the last replacement, washed the whole lot down and then soaked it all in Jeys Fluid to suppress the algal growth. And it really does look pretty good. No doubt it will be another 20 years before it gets a repeat prescription!

This bird is a redwing, and we've had three or four of them in the garden while the weather has been bad. They're country birds, and we've not seen them in our garden before, but they have been tucking into the red crab apples.

These apples are a godsend for the birds at this time of year. The variety is called Red Sentinel and it's clear that they taste pretty nasty, as nothing goes near them before early January, but then the blackbirds and squirrels find that's all there is left to eat, so eat them they must.

The bird is, as you see, a smallish thrush with a pale supercilium (eyebrow to you and me!) and a reddish area just below the wing. I think you can see more of it when the bird flies.

I've been logging the birds in the garden since early last year as part of a British Trust for Ornithology survey, and was quite looking forward to putting these unusual birds onto the record. The sheet is divided into common birds and unusual ones, and I was confident this was an unusual one. Wrong, there it was under common. Bugger!

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