Monday, 29 January 2018

Getting ready for Spring in the Garden

After doing the Big Garden Birdwatch yesterday I decided it was time to  get ready for when the birds in my garden start nesting.  I have had bird nesting boxes in the garden for many years now and they need to be emptied every year so they are ready for new occupants.  Also after a while of being exposed to the elements they often need to be repaired or replaced.  Two of mine were damaged last year, one fell down and the roof tore away from the box and I think the squirrels broke the side off one and emptied the nesting material on the lawn.  Not sure if it was occupied at the time or not.

I turned to Richard, who is a very keen bird enthusiast and conservationist. He has supplied me with boxes in the past.  You can see what great work he does by going to his website, Project Birdbox

He came round today with 2 very sturdy looking new boxes and as well as erecting them for me he emptied last years boxes and moved a couple too.

The boxes are suitable for bluetits and great tits. The hole is too small for other birds to get through.  The nests are mainly made of moss but they find lots of other soft materials to line them. This has sheep's wool in white, pink and blue wool which may have come from sheep at the nearby farm (coloured by the farmer for identification.)  At the bottom the bright green/yellow is probably from a tennis ball according Richard.  In the past I have found the filter tips off cigarettes in them and horse hair. This also had bits of tissue in it.

This is my robin box. They like an open front box that is well hidden in the shrubs.  This was really well hidden by the honeysuckle last year but that has been cut back. I am sure it will soon grow and cover it again.  Robin's main nesting material seem to be moss as well. After having this box for 4 or 5 years last year was the first time it was used.  I saw it when it had 3 eggs in. Don't know if the robin laid any more after that.  Hope they come back and use it again.

This box below is the one I can watch easily from my kitchen, it had a nest in from last year so is has now been emptied for this years prospective residents. 

This one was way to far up the tree so Richard has moved it down where is is easier to see. The nest in the photo was from this one. 

 This box is in my front garden and was on the other side of the tree. On this side I will be able to watch it from my armchair in the sitting room. 

One of the new boxes from Richard. It is bigger then the others and very sturdy. Above it you can the one that was emptied by the squirrels last year.  The side is missing off it. 

The second new box fitted today.  I can see both of these from the house but might need to use binoculars to spot any birds going in and out as they are both at the bottom of the garden. 

Finally a  look at the signs of spring approaching.  Crocuses, snowdrops and daffodils. Also winter flowering jasmine and heather which will provide food for any early bees. 

Friday, 19 January 2018

Grandson Aaron

It is that long since I blogged and I hadn't realised I hadn't introduced my newest grandson Aaron yet, and he is 18 months old now. Very remiss of me.  Hope I can remember how to do it!

Aaron Isaac was born on 8th July 2016 and here he is at about 3 weeks with dad Sam. 

Born in England but his dad is Welsh so here he is sporting his Welsh shirt at the age of 5 weeks. Not sure he likes it with the expression on his face.

Waiting for lunch with big brother Stuart at about 6 months old

Think they will be good friends

On the zip wire with dad at his first birthday party

 Picnic in the park and a lovely sunny day for his first birthday. 

 Christmas at granddad and grandma's house Dec 2017

Friday, 6 May 2016

Feels like Spring, so into the garden

At last we have some springlike weather so made a trip to the garden centre to replace lost plants.  I planted a lovely fuchsia last year which was full of flowers. Unfortunately it hasn't survived the winter. Not sure why as it was a mild one.  I think maybe the plant nurseries force the plants so they look attractive when we go to buy but then they burn out after one season.  Replaced it today with a small cistus or broom. 

The next task was my herb bed.  It is the only part of the garden that I am able to manage now. Everything else is too big for me to do.  Come to think of it, apart from the pond, it is the only thing I seem to blog about too.   I had lost 3 plants there.  My lovely French lavender which flowered 3 times last summer  (maybe that burned itself out), the hyssop (which was new last year) and the cat mint.  

Here is the Hyssop on the left and the French lavender right. 

I couldn't find any cat mint at the garden centre so replaced that with basil mint, which I had never heard of before. I planted that inside a pot as it apparently spreads like regular mints. 

To add a different colour I also bought  a golden feverfew which has lovely yellow leaves.

The herb bed is now weeded and tidy, guarded by Hedgy Hog.

I have replanted my green trug with some dwarf aquilegia as the house leeks I planted in there at the end of last year were not looking very healthy.  I have re-potted them in small pots to see if they revive. 

Here is my lovely cherry tree which never fails to amaze me.  It has never grown any bigger since we moved here over 20 years ago but it produces such lovely blossom year after year.  it stands in the middle of my wild flower meadow.  You can't see very well on this photos but it has lots of primroses in it at this time of year. 

Monday, 21 March 2016

Craft Morning.

I can't believe I am blogging for a 3rd consecutive day, but I went to a craft morning at my local library so thought I would show you some of the lovely things I saw there.  It was an opportunity to go along and try new crafts. The lady organising it goes to the craft group that I go to and she runs a rag rug making group regularly at the library.

There were lots of lovely ladies there, some that I know from the group I go to. We had coffee , welsh cakes and chocolate biscuits which was very nice. 

A group of very friendly spinsters who were not offended when I called them that.  The name spinster, for an unmarried woman, comes from the craft of spinning. A spinster was the name given to a woman who spun thread and these more often than not were unmarried women, hence the name.  I was wondering what the collective terms for a group of spinsters was and one of them suggested a gaggle!  I will have to think of one a bit more alliterative I think. 

These very talented ladies belong to the Gwent Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. Not only do they do all these things but they make many different things with their yarn. 

Here are samples of knitting,crochet, felting and a very lovely woven picture.  

More crochet and felted items.  

Some of the very industrious ladies. 

There were a lot of people making rugs who had brought along some of their work.

There are 2 ways to make rag rugs. The one on the left above has a smooth finish and the one on the left has a shaggy finish.  

The butterfly below combines to 2 different ways of doing it. 

A shaggy looking chicken and another rug combining both methods.

What a fine looking cockerel!

A craft I am familiar with is crochet but I have never attempted anything like this. So beautiful!

This is more of the same lady's work

I had a go at making a mini rag rug of the shaggy type. Didn't have time to finish it though. This is how I did it, Rug making

Here I am with my 2 crafty friends Ray and Gail. 

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Llanyrafon Manor Quilt

My last update on the quilt was in July 2014.  If you remember we are a group of women who have been sewing a quilt to be displayed at Llayrafon Manor in Cwmbran.  The quilt was finally finished in Autumn 2015 and is now on display.

Just a few of the crafters here, there were up to 14 or 15 of us working on it at different times.  We have named our group the Crafty Ladies of the Manor.  Our next project is to make a rag rug for the bedroom floor.

 This is a close up picture of the edge of the quilt.  It was all sewn by hand and took almost 2 years to complete.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Time to start blogging again.

I keep telling myself I should carry on with my blog and just noticed today the my last post was in February 2015, more than a year ago.

I think it is now time to make a start with a new season almost here.  Apparently we now have two different dates for the start of Spring.  The first one is 1st March which is the Meteorological Spring and the 2nd is the Vernal Equinox which this year is tomorrow 20th March.  This is called the Astronomical Spring.  I have always thought of the equinox as the start of Spring so that is the one I will stick to.

For my 1st post of the year I think it appropriate to talk about my garden. I first ventured out to do a bit of tidying with my grandson Stuart last weekend.  It has been so wet until the last couple of weeks that the whole garden was waterlogged. Fortunately the March winds have started to dry it out so we picked up dead twigs from the lawn ready for its first cut, which was done by the gardener on Thursday. He was happy not to have to go round picking up the twigs beforehand.  I have 3 large oak trees and they shed twigs like a cat sheds fur.  Stuart also pruned my buddleia bush which is very old and rather large. He sawed it back drastically, which it really needed.  I think it might be time to dig it out and buy a new one but we'll see how it goes.

Today I have been working on my herb garden. The thyme plants and some of the lavender had died since last year so I dug them out and also cut back the other plants as well as weeding. This is a photo from earlier in the month.

 I bought 3 new thyme plants earlier in the week and replaced the 4 dead ones with 3 new ones.  They do spread quite a lot as they grow and I think I had planted the previous ones too close to each other.  I think it is looking much better now.  I have also brought out my hedgehog and fairy house which have been overwintering in the greenhouse.

I have been getting very anxious over the last couple of weeks because there was not much activity in my pond.  I have only seen 2 frogs in there and a newt.  There are often as many as 20 frogs in there during the spawning season which can start as early as mid February.  Today I am pleased to report that at last I have frogspawn. Only one batch but it is a start.  With having a relatively mild winter and the Spring flowers starting early I thought the frogs would have been early too.

I usually hope that we will have daffodils for 1st March, St David's Day, and we usually do. This year the first ones opened on 28th January, more than a month earlier.