Friday, 20 March 2009

Bird count tops 70! Garden opens tomorrow

The garden opens for the season tomorrow so we are rushing round doing some last minute things to get ready - but there is still time for me to post on my blog and to include this lovely picture from yesterday of drifts of chinodoxas in the border in front of the old espalier apple tree. These pretty little blue flowers self seed amongst the herbaceous plants and spend the rest of the summer dormant whilst the borders fill out with greenery and flowers. Then when everything is just starting to emerge after winter, they are cheerfully there, spreading across the border and providing nectar for early bumble bees.

Each year the amazing bird count creeps up and with two new species recorded by Alan Todd over the winter, it has just topped 70!! One of the new birds was a crossbill which is exciting - I think it is quite incredible that a small piece of ground, given all the right conditions of shelter, nest sites, food and water, can attract such a range of birds. Birders bring your binoculars!

I have just cut down the Verbena bonariensis in the formal beds, saving this job til the last moment and leaving the dead sticks on all winter to protect them. Today I'll cut down the wall germander, rue and lavender - all left thankfully over the winter which turned out to be harder than the last few years. I find in Northumberland that these pruning jobs are best left til March, along with buddleias and hardy fuschias.

The greenhouse is full of young plants ready for sale and daffodils bloom under the glass. The rosemary 'Tuscan Blue' flowers prolifically next to the pale pink of nectarine flowers against the white wall. All just ready and poised waiting for visitors to come and enjoy.

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