January. A month of plans.
I really want to get out into the garden, but the earth is hard as stone, and I'm duty-bound to leave the garden asleep under it's blanket of grey foliage. Oh but it does look a mess. It looks like I have given up on the land. I suppose I could say I've handed it over to nature, the cruel beast that she is.
But method is in this madness. After the losses of the previous winter, I made the conscious decision to leave much of the foliage on my plants to help with the insulation. We shall see in the spring whether it was the right one.
I suppose I should see this quiet time as fortuitous really, as even if I could go out, I really shouldn't as I'm recuperating from a wee operation on my foot. The Man that Can...can though! And this morning as I blog, he is out trimming part of the conifer hedge back by the bird feeders. If he doesn't do it now, we'll have to wait until after the summer to do it, to allow the breeding birds to feel secure. It should really have been done earlier, so I hope it doesn't react badly...
This weekend is the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch. Not that a big garden is required, you could do it in your local park. All you need is a pen and a scrap of paper, and a free hour over 29/30th January. Note down all the birds seen in your patch in a single hour, and submit your results. For more information and ID sheets, check out the RSPB website. Hedging is now trimmed back, bird feeders topped up, and our ID sheet poised for action. I've found 3pm is a good time for our feathered visitors.
I've played about with various seeds and feeders over the years. Our birds seems to prefer sunflower hearts, which are paricularly high in energy fats essential to help keep them warm. Other favourites are peanuts for the tits. The robin, blackbird and dunnock like mealworms. We do have a feeder with niger seeds for the finches, but I think they may have moved out of the area (do they migrate?). The starlings will eat absolutely anything, and will fight over fatballs, fat pellets and suet blocks. Yummy.
Oh and please don't forget water, especially this time of year. It freezes over very readily, and often needs breaking up and replacing a couple of times a day when the weather is this cold.
It's not all doom and gloom in the winter garden. Things are beginning to stir.
This cyclamen was a gift a couple of years ago from the school where I volunteered. This will be the third time I've managed to get it to flower, but it will need repotting in the summer when it's dormant, as it's beginning to look a little thin on foliage.
The humble Spiderplant (chlorophytum comosum). Probably the easiest of all houseplants, and perfect for beginners like myself. I don't think it's particularly happy at the moment though, so I need to invest a little time and TLC. I think it is probably a simple case of being in the wrong place, as it's sitting in a north-facing window. It needs a bit of a prune too, and I'm going to pot up the babies dangling at the ends of the flower stems.
This is mother-in-law's orchid returned to me to try and repeat last year's success at coaxing it to flower again.
And this is one I picked up in a bargain bin at the supermarket. Healthy enough, but it'll be a surprise what colour the flowers will be if I can jolly it along.