Daunder

Today’s word for the day from Robert Macfarlane: “daunder” – to walk without fixed purpose, to wander aimlessly, to stroll, saunter & idle about, in city or in country (Scots). Cf another fine Scots verb for this, “to stravaig”.

This morning I had an appointment, but following that I decided to take a daunder back through the park. Of late, I haven’t had much chance to go through what it a lovely local space for me. The avenue of trees, the wide expanse of grass, the surrounding gardens all make for a pleasant stroll. Squirrels enjoy a number of confirs in the surrounding gardens. The park provides a rich variety of habitats with wet areas, woodland, ground cover, short and long grass.

During Winter one of the areas of trees becomes bogged down and for a few months becomes a temporary duck pond. Today the mallards were resting by the side, while the crows hopped back and forth around the edge.

Many of the surrounding stone walls are covered in ivy. This wonderful Autumn rich pollen source has now gone to seed. Once dropped the ivy can continue it’s creeping domination of the southern corner of the park only to have it’s efforts thwarted later in the year by the groundsmen.

Signs of Spring are poking through with snowdrops in flower and daffodils preparing for their colour burst.

One of my favourite areas of the park takes a path through trees into a short holloway to nowhere in particular. The chaffinches were out in number today hopping around the ivy encrusted trees.

Throughout the park I could hear the sound of great tits chattering back and forth.

The blackbirds were accomodating for photos.

Just a quick wander round the park shows life is starting to emerge again. The Spring flowers are showing their heads. The birds are finding their voices again. The sun is almost warming. Good to be out.

Edging the lawn

Today saw me braving the cold to make a start on my plans to edge the lawn. Our next door neighbours have knocked out a chimney breast and we claimed lots of vintage Edwardian red bricks for my garden. They were heading for the skip, but were upcycling them. The bricks are getting dug into the lawn edge to hopefully give me a neater edge when mowing.

I’ve previously edged the bench area with stone bricks, so it won’t all match. But I don’t want to see these lovely bricks go to waste.

Alice watched on.

Before enjoying her Christmas present.

Then abandoning me to play on her push along.

The blackbirds have been watching me from next door but one while enjoying the apples left on the trees. Hornsea is full of fruit trees where the fruit are never harvested giving the birds a good Winter food source.

I’ve got through half today and hopefully finish the job later in the week.

The garden is looking set for Spring. The daffodils are coming up strong now. Soon be flowering. I’m seeing a few tulips peeking through. I’ve even got one allium making an early break for it.

Big Garden Birdwatch

Last weekend saw the Big Garden Birdwatch. The RSPB is survey has been going since 1979 and provides useful information on the rise and fall of garden birds. I have been putting out a variety of food across Winter attracting in a good variety of birds. However the weekend before didn’t bode well.

The snow started to come down. At first slow, then in proper flurries.

Thick enough to settle.

Come the day of the birdwatch the snow had gone, but it was still a cold, grey day. Not ideal conditions, but I’m pleased to say I still had good numbers in. The way the survey works is you count the greatest number you see at once, so you don’t count the same bird again and again.
So my results as follows:

4 Blackbirds
5 Starlings
14 Sparrows
3 Wood pigeons
2 Great tits
1 Crow
1 Wren
1 Blue tut
2 Jackdaws
10+ common gulls

So I just managed to break double figures. This was a quiet day as my garden goes, so several regular visitors didn’t show. No robins or goldfinches, which are out there now as I write. But still a respectable variety of species for a small garden.

A mass of gulls made up one of my highest counts. Though only in briefly they swoop in, quickly, and in large numbers.

The missing birds.

A little disappointed that a few birds didn’t show, but I’m still happy that my garden is helping support a decent variety of garden birds. The initial results nationally seem to be showing the sparrow as top, followed by starling, then blue tit. Being by the sea my results differ from the norm. Hopefully over next year as the cover in the garden builds at a variety of heights I will see further wildlife visiting.

Folklore Thursday: A short tale

This week is National Storytelling Week. For folklore Thursday we have been asked this week for one of our favourite folk and fairy tales. This week I have been doing Little Red Riding Hood in school, but for this week I’m going to go with a story I like to use to demonstrate oral story telling. My contribution was first brought to my attention my the notes in Brothers Grimm. It comes from Deutsches Sprachbuch von Adolf Gutbier (German Language book by Adolf Gutbier). It is a very quick story, but it sticks in my head for the rather terrible pun. My retelling may not be accurate to the original, but this is how folk and fairy tales carry on through the years, changing with each telling.

Once there was a chicken and a rooster in a farmyard. The chicken, pecking in the ground, found a little key. The rooster found a little wooden box. The chicken put the key in the box. The rooster turned it. In the box they found a little scrap of fur, a small tail.

This would have been a longer story, but it was only a short tail.

I don’t know if the pun works in the original German, but the story sticks in my head for it. Hope you’ve enjoyed my Folklore Thursday.

 

 

Nationale Tulpendag

Today is National tulip day in Holland. This is an event within Amsterdam in preparation for the tulip season. The event takes place within Dam Square. Over the morning people can see the tulips displayed, then in the afternoon they can pick the flowers for free. A rather delightful celebration of the unofficial National flower.

I never bothered with tulips in my last garden. Thin borders and clay soil gave me limited space. The soil in the current garden is still clay, but with slightly better drainage. So this year I’ve got a few varieties on the go. I went with black parrots in a container on the patio. These are rich, black tulips with frilly petals. These have been planted round a red stemmed prunus angustfoilia. I’m hoping the red stems and fruit will contrast nicely with the tulips. Then mixed in the border are a dark scarlet variety called red riding hood and the ever popular queen of the night tulip. This should flower around April or May, so hoping for a solid display around Alice’s birthday.

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Previous years I’ve had bulbs for school through uk.bulbs4kids.com/ They supply bulbs and planting kits for free. I moved schools though before as the shoots were coming up, so didn’t get to see them flower. The registration is past for bulbs for this year, but worth following if you are a teacher for next years registration. They supply a good set of tools and a healthy quantity of bulbs.

Blue Monday

Today is Blue Monday. A day supposedly the most depressing of the year. The idea coming from Christmas having gone, weather being wet and cold and motivation being generally low. While the calculation for the date is clearly rather ridiculous pseudo-science it can be a grim time of year and it does no harm trying to cheer people up.

This year Summer garden photos are being shared on twitter to give a burst of colour and a grey point of the year. I saw it posted through Hugh Cassidy on twitter, so thank you to Hugh for this little bit of cheer.

So here is a look back at colour from last year that we can look forward to again.

For anyone feeling glum Samaritans are offering support with their Brew Monday. Get together with people and share a cuppa.

Hopefully everyone has a good day and doesn’t struggle with Monday Motivation.

I have sent out some emails for the nature book swap. I currently have an odd number, so if anyone else wants to take part I will add them in. Emails have been sent out to all, but one who expressed an interest. Basic gist following from the short list of the UK’s favourite nature book I’ve organised a book swap. If you have a nature book to pass on I will email you an address and you will receive a book from someone else. Email me at natureswap@mail.com if interested or message me here.

Wildflower hour-Winter heliotrope

From my New Years plant hunt I found winter heliotrope. It apparently favours damp spots such as river banks, damp meadows and woodland. I found it on a cliff edge with strong winds, so there you go.

It has small mauve flowers, rather delicate in nature. It apparently has a pleasant vanilla scent, but Alice on my back I didn’t go close enough to check. It can be grown in the garden, but can quickly become a pest as it spreads vigorously. As a non-native invasive species much of the advice on it is connected in to other plants considered pests such as bindweed and Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Balsalm. It spreads by rhizomes (underground stems) spreading out to form clumps of leaves out competing other native species.  It flowers November until February, while the foliage is evergreen remaining all year.

Winter heliotrope

Originally from North Africa it spread through Europe before making its way to Britain. It was introduced formally in 1806 grown as an ornamental in gardens and some churchyards. So far only the male form is present in Britain.

So looks like I’ve gone for another non-native invasive species. I need to try an find something native for future. Advice is given here should you wish to remove it from your garden.

If you haven’t checked out the proposed nature book swap check out the blog. Looking for expressions of interest until Next weekend when I will look at sending out details for people to swap books.

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