Gardening with Nature on the Edge of the Atlantic

Winter Treasures

It is time to feed the birds again and I am trying to work out how I can get an accurate count of their numbers. I have four bird feeding stations and am joined each morning by one or two robins as I move from station to station. However, as the feeders are quite far apart does this mean that the robins follow me from feeder to feeder or do I have eight or nine robins throughout the garden? I can’t find any distinguishing features between each individual, so I may never get a definitive answer.

If the weather ever improves for long enough, I will have a lot of pruning to do this winter. The following two photographs show part of the hillside when I first started planting it in 2012 and again some years later. I would like to reclaim a little more of the view across the fields while retaining the marvellous shelter that this area now enjoys.

I recycled a considerable amount of newspaper and cardboard when starting my planting here on the hillside in 2012. Not a pretty sight initially, but well worth the effort.

The halfway stage on the hillside. The hot summers have resulted in the rocky ground being exposed and the grass is now mainly moss. A bonus for the numerous fungi that now inhabit it.

These mushrooms are residing at the top of the hillside in the shade of some trees. As usual they are slightly nibbled but are not deteriorating as quickly as most of the specimens in the garden.

From this angle it looks as if this is a loaf of bread rather than a cluster of mushrooms. The green garnish is the trapped leaf of a young wildflower.

Lichen decorating the larger trees in the garden. I have not been able to accurately identify the squiggles on the pale surface but think that they may be fruiting bodies.

It is so strange to come across a fully flowering shrub so late in the year but the Hebe never fail to perform. You could almost imagine that it is summer.

The Arbutus unedo is full of flowers every year and they are very popular with the birds. Sadly, I rarely see any ripe fruit. This is an exception and I suspect that it will be gone the next time I try to find it.

The Cotoneaster Rothschild berries are some of the last to be eaten by the birds but if other years are an indication, they will swoop down one day during the winter and devour them all.

I have been trying to find a way to keep parts of the drive clear as it is slightly wider than is necessary. This year I carefully potted up new tulips and other bulbs only to discover a number of the pots had been tipped over with the contents scattered over the drive. I hardly think that this is the work of a mouse and suspect one of my local foxes. As many of the bulbs were nibbled, I also suspect that they were not very palatable. I no longer have any hope for a dramatic show of tulips in the spring.

A moment of sunlight in an otherwise wet month.

I now have seven pheasants visiting the garden each day. This clever gentleman has set up his pitch under one of the bird feeders and saunters around all morning waiting for seeds to drop into his lap. He is almost tame and will allow me to approach to within a few feet. His female companions are shyer and it will be interesting to see if this changes over the winter.

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