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Venturing Out.Some surprising sights for the time of year.


I managed to get out today for 3 or 4 hours before it rained. And now, its hammering down as seems to be the case most days this winter. And, all the rain is certainly causing me problems in my back garden and making me realise I will have to make changes on one side due to a slope and a solid clay subsoil that takes forever to drain. But, that ios for another blog on another day.
Today, I made a start on the small area in front of the house.It really isnt large enough to call a garden but, I intend brightening it up. I brought a fair few potted plants and cuttings from my former garden when we moved just over a year ago and I want to use them.

This area is covered in mainly plum colour slate chippings and a few pebbles here and there but they have been put down with no membrane underneath which means we are constantly weeding in the summer.So, I’ve started removing them and bagging up the slate chippings in order to lay a membrane before putting them down again. But, I will also be digging a bed either side and a circular bed in the middle. This is a compromise as I was originally thinking of turning the whole area over to one big bed but decided against it as advised by one or two GOYers a few months ago. I think they were right…….no point making too much work for myself. I’m hoping to fit in most of my plants that are patiently waiting in pots. An evergreen blue Agapanthus in the circular bed and, Dahlias, delphinium, Eremerus(Foxtail Lily…if it has survived), one or two grasses and my pride and joy, a cutting from my Oriental Poppy Patty’s Plum which was so admired by me and my neighbours at my old garden. After 3 or 4 hours I now have an achy back but most of the chippings are bagged up and I have made some rough markings of wre the beds are to be. I will measure and mark out properly in the next couple of days.
In the meantime, I had a walk round the back garden with the camera. It’s incredible, isnt it, how mild this winter has been so far. Plants are just so confused.
This Geum is full of buds which will, no doubt be hit by the frost sometime soon.

This Clematis Marie Boussilet has a flower opening , which is just crazy in January.

The Verbena Bonariensis have hundreds of new shoots.Let’s hope the frosts dont kill thgem all off.

I only planted this Nandina Domestica (Heavenly Bamboo) in the late summer/early autumn but, due to the mild weatehr, it has established and grown. It too has flower buds at the wrong time of year.And, it doersnt seem to mind the wet border, too much.

My autumn planted onions arent looking too clever and I must get the weeds out but, i just hope all the rain won’t rot them.

I set my potatoes out to chit yesterday, in the greenhouse. It’s an unheated greenhouse but , as you can see, I’ve put them inside a mini greenhouse to help keep the frost off.

I may need to put these Geraniums inside the mini greenhouse too, when we get frosts.

With the big bird watch weekend coming up, i’m still seeing very few birds in the garden apart from the odd Blue Tit , Robin, Blackbird and, of course the obligatory Collared Doves and Wood Pigeons who seem to eat all the food but, here’s a photo I took of a tit on a feeder a few weeks ago.

Are others seeing as many birds as usual at this time of year or is it just me?? I wondered if its because there are still so many foods available in the fields as its been such a mild winter so far.
This Oak behind our garden (pictured at the end of November) seemed to be a perching place for many birds last year including a pair of Jays who were regular visitors but this year, I’ve only seen them in it once of twice and fleeting glances of them flying around. Although, the Magpies were in the tree regularly until a few weeks ago which may have scare some of the smaller birds off.

Happy gardening and birdwatching,


More blog posts by paulspatch

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Next post: More Birds In The Garden These Last Few Days.



Hello Paul, Happy New Year ! I'm back and raring to go !
You seem to be busy as usual ! Hahaa!
I'm a bit concerned as Rick and I have been watching blue tits go in and out the bird box ! I think birds as well as plants are getting confused by this mild weather ! I don't mind, but I do wish it would stop raining !

9 Jan, 2016


We have plenty of blue tits and the occasional great tit but not much else except loads of rooks and jackdaws in the trees just outside our boundary. There seem to be many fewer starlings than normal. We are only a mile from the second biggest roost in the country so that's rather worrying as we usually see thousands (literally) in the evening.
Paul your front garden may be small but it can still be very attractive - think about what Hywel did with his!

9 Jan, 2016


I would think twice about the membrane especially the permeable type. Every time I tried it, in a year or two the weeds grew right on top of it and sent fine hair like roots right through it. They were impossible to pull or dig out, I had to cut each one of them out with a box cutter roots and membrane together. Finally I got so fed up with this deal that I tore out every membrane that I had laid down and that was a hard job to do. I still pull weeds of course but it's alot easier without the membrane in the way.

9 Jan, 2016


You have been busy. I tell myself 'do a bit at a time' so you don't suffer! Good advice which I never take!!

10 Jan, 2016


hi paul,

i am booked in for the big garden birdwatch on the 30th/31st january. last year it was all starlings and house sparrows, but the new feeding station is going well so we shall see.
unfortunately, i have my first dose of chemotherapy on the 25th and 26th (r-chop). the first dose is given in two stages. so may have to do it from my bedroom window. see how i feel.

10 Jan, 2016


I wish you all the very best Maisiesdad.....
Keep cheerful of you can.The birdwatch will be a excuse to just sit still and stare out of the window for an hour.
Me too Siris....every time!
I have used membrane many times, Loosestrife, and can't say I've had that problem.The one I've used in recent years is a tougher one than the soft fabric ones I've used in the past. I've used it in customers' gardens and still not having a problem 3 or 4 years on.also, used it around my shed last Feb and it seems ok. But, we can't just leave it as it was as the weeds are to do something.
I agree...all this mild weather is turning everything on its head Rose(and happy new year to you too....pleased to see u back)
I've not seen any starlings for a few weeks either, Stera.Usually , when I put out a fat block, they come flocking(Particualrly at my old garden but here, to a lesser degree too)But, none at al at the moment.I suppose the weather is what it ps all about.So many berries and other foods still accessible in the fields at the moment. That may change if the cold spell, coming to our area from tomorrow, is a prolonged one!

10 Jan, 2016


Hi Paul ...
I'm sure you'll design a very attractive front garden area.
You are lucky to have young Verbena Bonariensis plants.
I don't have success with those, but was given some seeds from a nearby garden. Any advice on Verbena Bonariensis, please ? Where do they like to grow ? Sun/shade/dry/damp ?

10 Jan, 2016


Hi Paul, blue and great tits and sparrows regularly, also a pair of argumentative robins, the blackbird picks up the do the
collared doves , they eat the corn the bluetits throw out,

The goldfinches worried me as we had to remove the thistles and teasels. .....they have eated 3 bags of niger seeds in the feeder already....since november, so I needn't have worried!
Occasional visits from a flight of lovely longtailed tits, and a greater spotted woodpecker

My neighbour feeds them too....
Very spoilt, they only like the soft fat balls and have gone off peanuts altogether!
Theygive us such pleasure though xxx

10 Jan, 2016


You've been busy, Paul, and will look great when all complete. Lots of birds in my garden but no goldfinches so far this year or trotty wagtails. I am away over the Bird count weekend so will miss it this year. Heavenly Bamboo is one of my favourite plants and I have several versions of it, all do well in my often soggy ground. No problem with VB here either, it survives everything and has transplanted itself in several neighbours gardens as well as in the gutter at the end of the road :)

10 Jan, 2016


Hi Tt........I always think that verbena Bonariensis want drier, good draining conditions, really but they seem to be excelling here. They've been in just a few months from small seedlings but have really grown(the mild weather, obviously,has helped this winter.) They certainly like the sun but do tolerate semi shade, it seems.
And they flourished in my old garden which was also clay soil. I certainly would recommend putting some grit round the roots when planting in heavy clay.
It's strange, Gee, as I've heard of many people like Tt, over the years, who can't seem to grow it in their gardens yet, like you, I find it self seeds( or, at least it did at my old garden.. We'll wait to see if it does here) .I used to find it growing up in cracks in the pavement outside my house, too.
I've never had success with getting gold finches to feed on teasels, Pam, although I've planted a couple here at the back of the garden do I hope it may bring them in.however, since we've been here(13 months now) I've not seen any at all. They used to eat the Niger seed occasionally at the other house but it doesn't seem to get eaten by any kind of birds here, at all.i always sprinkle some dried insects on the ground for the Balckbirds and robins and we have one of each visiting quite a bit at the moment.

10 Jan, 2016


Thanks Paul ..
I think I have enough seeds that I can try them in various places and see which ones do well. I've heard before that they do well in path cracks, so I might be able to try that.

10 Jan, 2016


Thanks Paul ! Raring to go !! It was a dry...yes... dry, sunny day today and all the plants are ducking again as I'm there with my spade moving them to a better place ! Hahaa!

10 Jan, 2016


Inundated with sparrows here, its hard to believe that they had completely disappeared until a couple of years back, we have a fair amount of starlings still, although I have read that they are scarce in some areas, doves, pigeons magpies, blue tits, greenfinches, my friendly robin and blackbirds visiting and squabbling over the feeders every day, its comical watching them, no goldfinches in my own garden though there are plenty visiting my daughters garden just one street away from us, whats the betting they all go on holiday when I do my big birdwatch count, lol..
You've made a good start in the front Paul, we all do the same when gardening don't we, I swear we would never be satisfied if our joints weren't aching at the end of a gardening session...

10 Jan, 2016


I hope to continue tomorrow and Tuesday, Sue, although may not be able to make much progress as are waiting for appointment to got to Funeral director to arrange mum's funeral. We saw thousands of starlings and Sparrows at the last garden but very few here at the moment.
Still too soggy to dig/plant/move plants here Rose.
Have you tried growing them in a pot and then transplanting Tt?

10 Jan, 2016


Oh Paul I am really sorry to hear that news about your Mum....

10 Jan, 2016


It was a long gradual thing over 5 weeks in hospital sue.Her hubby is going registrar tomorrow and then we going to arrange appointment with Funeral director. She passé on new years' day but because she'd had an operation(for a broken hip after a fall) the coroners office thought the coroner would want a post mortem but, he agreed eventually on Tnursday that there was no need so there was quite a delay.
She was 87 with dementure so really no quality anymore and in the end she just slipped away.

10 Jan, 2016


I remember you saying that she had her accident and her dementia had worsened so I agree about her quality of life,
I can remember us willing our mum to go over the last weeks of her life, it might seem terrible to some people that I thought that way but I know mum was ready to go , that waiting when you cannot get sorted can be a difficult time for all concerned, its a bit like being in limbo, my condolences to you and your family Paul...

11 Jan, 2016


So sorry to hear your mum passed away,Paul..but some consolation to you ,it was peaceful for her.Dementia is an awful illness,and coupled with her operation,it wouldn't have been easy for her..
Your garden will help to keep you occupied ,and maybe you could plant something in her memory..My deepest Sympathy to you and your Family..take care ..x

11 Jan, 2016


Good luck with your little front garden. It's surprising what can be done with a small space :)
The plants are enjoying the mild weather, and so am I :)

11 Jan, 2016


Thanks ......arranged funeral today. Not till 26th though.
Mum has always insisted on burial for some reason.
I hope to spend a bit of time in the front garden tomorrow or wed. I won't be planting the whole of it Hywel......still leave some slate chippings to allow access to the gas meter and to clean windows.
My mum wasn't really a gardener Bloomer and the only plants that she liked were Fuschias and , although I quite like some, they aren't my real favourites so as its only a small space, I don't think I'll be planting any.

11 Jan, 2016


I didn't know about your mother Paul. I never have time to read all the comments above mine.
I believe she went through a difficult time recently but I'm sorry to learn she has died. . Please accept my deepest sympathy ...

11 Jan, 2016


So sorry to hear of your loss Paul, my sympathy to you and your family. I hope your garden will help to heal your grief.

12 Jan, 2016


You have my sympathy to you and yours.

12 Jan, 2016


Thanks....yes it was a tough 5 weeks or so whilst she was in hospital. But, she just slipped away on New Years Day.

12 Jan, 2016


So sorry to read about your Mum, dementia is a terrible thing, one of the most difficult diseases to cope with, especially the family dealing with all the problems it have my sympathy.
Good luck with your front garden, we have one similar size, but it is planted up mainly with conifers and evergreens, and bulbs for colour..and to keep it low maintenance!
We have had so few birds in the garden this year, no idea why, so hope they return...

14 Jan, 2016


Thanks, DD...yes, lots of people reporting less birds than usual.I can't really understand it.

14 Jan, 2016

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