Sunday 1 February 2009

Garden Love

It's ridiculously cold here today. A bitter, easterly gale is roaring down the valley and we're right in it's teeth. Our bedroom is in the roof and the wind has whistled and moaned around the eaves all night long. I'm yearning for spring and mild days. Oh I do miss my summer garden. Pottering, dead heading, bringing home a new treasure from the WI market and finding somewhere to squeeze it in. We've only been in the house for just over a year so last summer was the first for me in this garden and it was complete delight - ok very wet but I loved it, we all did. My garden is so precious, a sanctuary, the place I feel most relaxed and very peaceful. But it's fun too and a place to play. I feel a bit imprisoned in the house and find myself gazing out of the window, willing spring to come.
Earlier in the week it was mild enough to spend an hour tiding the borders and sorting out the shed but I long to be out there with frothing flowers for company. Time seems to go so slowly in February and I find it torturous so I'm getting out my summer pictures to cheer up a blustery, dreary day.

But there are good sides to this winter battering. The garden is full of birds. Not so many people in our road seem to feed them, apart from us and our neighbour, so we're mobbed especially on raw days like today.

I've been passionate about garden birds ever since one bitter winter when I was around eleven and my sister and cousins and I began a bird club. We fed our little feathered friends then watched them from the kitchen window and drew endless pictures.

I'm very appreciative of the wildlife education my parents gave me, a little too enthusiastically on occasion though it has to be said (I'll always remember mum getting me out of bed aged 15 to come and look at a woodpecker on the apple tree - you can imagine how unimpressed I was at that age!)
Today though I'm such an enthusiast and it's something that has become a special bond between my little chaps and I. Daddy is a master of junk modelling, train building etc, etc but bugs, birds, flowers etc are mummy's forte.

Our garden is very small, perhaps 30 ft square, but our position is just perfect for attracting birds. We're close to a river, the water meadows, farmland and a wood so we get all sorts of unusual visitors.

Reed buntings are as numerous as sparrows, although I'd never seen one at all before moving here. In the winter the birch tree is alive with siskins, red poll and long tailed tits and the ivy hedge is home to a family of wrens, as well as the more usual tits, finches and thrushes. We keep a list of everything in, or flying over, the garden that we see and already it includes sparrowhawk, barn owl, pink-footed goose and even cormorants.

I find it so relaxing to sit curled up with a brew, snuggled up from the cold and watch our visitors flit from feeder to bird table and back to the tree and hedges again. Miles more interesting than a fish tank in my opinion but it does the same job! Wish I had my own pictures to share but my camera really is useless for photographing anything more than six foot away.

Finally the bulbs are coming through. In the autumn we stuffed all the buckets and pots full with crocus, muscari and narcissi and before long the patio will be bursting with colour.

I can't wait, everything is so very bleak and it feels an eternity since my borders looked like this. But if I look very hard I can see clusters of forget-me-nots forming, primroses in bud and a beautiful, deep pink pulmonaria is actually in flower.
Well, think I'll pop back to the window now and see if the bullfinch or my favourite the robin is back. Batten down the hatches and stay cosy everyone.


Funkymonkey said...

You have a beautiful garden Steph and it's been lovely to share your garden with you on this cold and windy day. It's let some colour and warmth in.


Pixiedust said...

Lovely photos. Your garden is so pretty. I can't wait for spring to arrive. xxxx

MelMel said...

Lovely pictures!
We are about to go out for a walk....bbbbrrr.....will put roses in our cheeks!

Blueberry Heart said...

Hi there,

That garden is so pretty, I hope mine turns out as colourful, the mental image and reality never seem to match up for me somehow..!

I hope you dont mind, I have tagged you - I received my first tag today and am passing it on to those that I have enjoyed in the months before starting up my own blog!

All you have to do is post the 4th picture from your 4th file and pass the tag on to 4 others.


Bertie Meadows said...

What a pretty garden you have Steph, no wonder your excited for spring.
We love to watch the birds in our garden too. I keep a little pack of bird spotting cards by the window to help the little ones(and me) identify them. The simplest pass times usually bring the most pleasure don't they?
Happy Sunday
Bertie x

Beki said...

What a beautiful garden, certainly makes you look forward to spring.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
Take care
Beki xxx

Flossie and Tom said...

I love your garden its beautiful - we have a lot of wildlife but our garden is a mess - we moved in about 5 years ago and the house was such a state that we have been concentrating on that - our garden at our old house was our pride and joy.

Heres to happy summer days in our gardens


driftwood said...

so lovely to see your garden photos, and to bring some warmth and colour on this oh so cold day, we've been feeding the birds a lot too, we have some lovely blue tits who come everyday. xx said...

Your garden is gorgeous and lovely to have colour in it during winter! Rachaelxo

Willow said...

This post has cheered me up soooo much ... thank you!! Your garden is absolutely lovely - a proper cottage garden, or so it looks to me anyway! I love to encourage the birds to our garden too and we've had a visit from a woodpecker a couple of times!

Willow xx

Miss sew n sew said...

Gorgeous pictures of your garden you did so much to it after just 1 year I wish mine looked that pretty - it is bitterly cold here snowing as I type very pretty but not looking forward to stepping out in it for the pre school run!

Dawniella said...

Thank you for your lovely post today.

Leisa said...

I remember so well your beautiful garden from last summer Steph. I am sure it will be just as lovely this summer as well.
Of course, here in Australia we will be moving into Autumn soon, so we are busy cleaning up in the garden after a very hot summer. I will have to order my bulbs soon ready to plant in a few months.
Thank you so much for a lovely post today :-)

Pipany said...

Oh I needed that Steph. Gorgeous pictures of summer to keep me going. I coped with the cold in January, but I don't want anymore now. Spring please.

Birds are my thing too. Well all wildlife really and like you we are lucky as our garden encourages all sorts. Lucy and I are planning to keep a chart too (though if I don't get on with it another year will be over!). Have a lovely week Steph. xx

Anonymous said...

Hi Steph, what a lovely post just what we need at the moment. Down here in Sussex we have lots of snow and my two boys are delighted as there is no school today. We have two jays in the garden feeding on food my youngest son put out and the long tailed tits always return in the winter. Keep warm. Karenx

P. said...

Looks like everybody is feeling springy.


Kathy said...

Hi Steph what a gorgeous garden. Adore all the flowers. We get lots of birds in our garden too, unfortunately they get chased by the seagulls too! Have you seen Cath Kidston's new magazine/catalogue as there is a fabric in there which I am sure is the same as your one in a recent post. Kathy

Tee of Vinnord Cottage said...

What a delightful blog you have here!!! I was searching cottage gardens on google, and your blog came up... I just recently move dinto my own small Norwegian cottage, and I am all excited about how my garden will look, and what I can do to it... But right now of course there is 4 feet of snow outside... hurray... Anyhow, I'll be back...

blessed be
- Tee from the Dragonfly Cottage

Pink Feather Paradise said...

What a beautiful garden, I too hope to have a cottage garden, just as long as I can keep the dog out of it! his goal is to kill everything he can with accrobatic leg cocking! lol


Claire said...

You have such a beautiful garden Steph, I would want to sit all day looking at it if it were mine! I'm useless at gardening, I was only saying last week to Steve that it's one thing I don't ever think I would get the hang of, so I will leave it up to him and I will just do the maintance!

How lovely you get diffrent types of birds and its great that your boys will grow up appreciating nature! We had a very noisy magpie family annoying all the sparrows in the summer! Just after we had moved I could hear a bird squeaking, a noise that sounded diffrent, sat on our extension roof was a love bird, he was beautiful, he and his mate had escaped from a house behind us and the owner had been trying to catch him, his mate had dissapeared, we did try to catch him but he flew onto the roof and sadly I think one of the magpies got him!!
Gosh I have gone on, hope you have a great week. Looking forward to seeing more pics of your lovely home and garden.......Claire xx

julie said...

what a beautiful garden - it's just what I would have if I could wave a magic wand and have my perfect garden. Lovely to hear about all your winter visitors too.

gayle said...

I adore the photos. i sickened everyone with my Donegal ones a while back. It is so easy to forget how beautiful things get in the summer, yet we need the winter to bring it all round again. May is my favourite month.

Vintage Girl said...

What a beautiful garden you have. Looking at the lovely flowers gives us hope for spring. I'm in Ontario Canada and we've had quite the winter for snow. It started in November and literally hasn't stopped. Our fields and lawns must have a 2-3 feet of snow on them. I haven't seen the banka piled up so high on the side of the roads for some years. Stay warm and cozy. Blessings, Heather

Vintage Girl said...

Umm..that should read "banks" piled high in my previous post...thought I better clarify that, you might think it was some odd Canadian thing! Heather

mollycupcakes said...

Well after looking at all your beautiful photos, i feel ten times better. The weather here today is rain and more rain. Melting our snowman and leaving behind a big slushy mess.
Your photos have cheered me up no end.
Thank you sweetie.
I was thrilled to spot a wren in our back garden when out building Mr snowman with the cupcakes, they have to be my favourite bird, so small and cute.
Enjoy the end of the week, hope it's not to cold for your beautiful flowers.
Catherine x

gayle said...

Hi Steph, need your help with some inspiration on my blog.

Volunteer opportunities said...

What are those purple flowers called? Those violet ones? I love its color combination. My grandmother have a garden and every time we go there, we spent most of time at the garden, looking and smelling at the flowers.