Tag Archive: Big Garden Watch


It wasa glorious morning to get back to the garden..

It was a glorious morning to get back to the garden..

The snow has gone (for now), it was sunny, there was a sense of expectation in the air and gardening juices were rising…so the real ‘Green Deal’ has begun- a new gardening year!

A blue tit on one of our bird feeders-  we seem to have a good number of these

A blue tit on one of our bird feeders- we seem to have a good number of these

At last it’s been possible to get out in the garden! So what happened?

I submitted my bird watch figures to the RSPB : four Great Tits, four Blue Tits;three Blackbirds; three Seagulls;  two Wood Pigeon; 2 Collared Doves; 2 House Sparrows; 2 Carrion Crows; 1 Robin; 1 Chaffinch; 1 Wren… ‘and a cock pheasant in the pear tree…’)

I’ve also sown some seeds ( a tray each of Leeks, Cosmos and Iceland Poppies in my propagators). Nice to get my hands into that peat free compost again…

The border of suckering Lilac before clearing

The border of suckering Lilac before clearing

The border after clearing- ready for some annuals- marigolds?

The border after clearing – ready for some annuals- Marigolds?

I did a bit of tidying in the greenhouse, but more importantly cleared a border of some suckering Lilac. This is in a raised bed on the edge of my kitchen garden and though I did think about some sort of barrier fabric to try to keep the lilac back, in the end I don’t think that would be very effective. So, Im thinking it might be best to make this area an annual bed (maybe filled with Marigolds) both to look good and to help attract beneficial insects into my food growing area. This will also be less awkward when I need to cut back the Lilac again in a couple of years.

Finally, before the wind and rain arrived,I dug up a row of Nerine bowdenii bulbs (the ‘Cornish Lily’ or  ‘Guernsey Lily’- pink flowers in the autumn). Boy did they need splitting after being in the ground for a good number years- and now I have plenty of new bulbs to plant!

Nerine bowdenii flower

Nerine bowdenii flower

All very satisfying  after about three weeks inside! Looks like it’ll be wet today, so I may have to content myself with preparing some new blog posts and thinking about where to put those Nerines…any ideas?

Old School Gardener

The Mistle Thrush- photo RSPB

The Mistle Thrush- photo RSPB

The Mistle Thrush is in decline, warns a major bird charity today.

The RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch survey reveals that they are being seen in less than half the number of British gardens than 10 years ago, resulting in the species being given an ‘amber’ warning of it disappearing. Other birds have seen their numbers decline since 1979, when the survey began, but the numbers of Blue, Great and Coal tits, in contrast, have been on the increase.

The Mistle Thrush is the largest bird in the Thrush family and its name means literally ‘Mistletoe eating Thrush’. It can be seen romping across the garden or standing defiantly on the lawn, but is more likely to be heard perched high up in a tree singing its melodious song. Because it sings so loudly on exposed perches in bad weather it’s sometimes nicknamed the ‘Stormcock’.

Living in parks, woodland and gardens they build their cup-shaped nest in trees early in the year. Of some benefit for the gardener because they like to eat worms, snails, insects, and slugs, in winter they turn to fruit such as berries from trees- mistletoe, holly, yew, rowan and hawthorn. They can be quite combative too, defending ‘their tree’ against other thrushes! They will occasionally visit gardens for food particularly if they are provided with their favourites on a regular basis –  meal worms and suet seed mixes are a good bet.

The RSPB Big Garden Watch takes place this weekend and everyone can take part by recording the numbers of different birds they see in their garden. A handy recording sheet can be downloaded from the website here.

rspb survey

The RSPB Big Garden Watch survey sheet

There are also a number of events taking place around the country; e.g. A ‘Wild Weekend’ event at The Forum in Norwich will show how to garden for wildlife and there’ll be lots of family activities on offer. Norfolk Mastergardeners will also be on hand with wildlife gardening and grow your own food  tips and advice. For tips on making your garden butterfly friendly click here.

Old School Gardener

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