Monday, 28 April 2008


Last autumn we spent several hours digging up a section of the front lawn and planting tulips. At the time it was hard work, not helped by the fact that you can't put a spade in our front garden without hitting a brick, lump of concrete or other rock of some sort.

I was a little worried that the tulips didn't want to come up this year and thought that maybe we had planted them too late, but a couple of weeks ago they popped their leaves up and are now in full flower. Whilst the rest of the front garden is a big mess the tulips are a lovely splash of colour.
At some point we will have to mow our front lawn, but it is very hilly and we're worried about damaging a lawn mower. Even if we risk it I won't be doing it anytime soon as there are so many lovely cuckoo flowers in the lawn at the moment.

Holly blue

A holly blue butterfly spent much of the weekend in our garden. It seemed particularly interested in the house (it almost went in the open back door half a dozen times) and in the area surrounding the pond. Hopefully it will be a regular visitor this summer.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Cuckoo Pint Again

The largest flower has now opened.


As you may know I have started growing trees from seed, with two purposes in mind. I shall sell most of them once they have reached a reasonable size and use the money to add to our woodland fund, the aim being to buy a piece of UK woodland at some point in the future. The remainder we shall keep and plant in the future either in our garden or by/in the woodland itself.

Most of the tree seeds require treatment prior to sowing. Usually this consists of soaking the seeds in water for a day or two and then storing them in the fridge for a number of weeks. Others require a much more complicated process of heating and cooling to imitate the seasons. Those are best left outside to germinate.

The first seeds to germinate were Nordmann firs, followed by a few of the beech trees. Whilst I was away last week our first little oak popped up in a pot we had kept in the lounge. It is now in a more sunny spot and is showing signs of producing its first leaves.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Cuckoo flower

Two blog entries in one day with cuckoo in the title. That can't happen very often.

Having returned from California I was really excited to see all that had sprung up in the garden in only a week. The best surprise was finding that our front lawn was full of cuckoo flowers / lady's smock. Today we redid our bog garden, having found on the internet that we hadn't dug it deep enough in the first place. I then transplanted around 15 cuckoo flowers from the front to the bog garden. There are at least another 20 plants still in the front lawn so if anyone would like them now is the time to ask.

I decided to transplant the grass with them as our front lawn needs completely redoing anyway (who knows what else will spring up in there during the year) and the flowers look much prettier when set in the grass (or at least I think so). I actually bought a couple of cuckoo flower plants on the internet, but have to say these are much more healthy and established and have transplanted to their new location very well. We're very pleased to have some established plants around the pond.

Cuckoo pint

This spring a large number of plants started popping up at the bottom of the garden. To begin with we were concerned that they might be something that we would want to get rid of, but it turns out that they are an English wildflower - cuckoo pint or lords and ladies.

Whilst digging the pond area I filled three pots with them and there are still dozens more at the back left of the garden underneath the ivy and scattered at other locations. A couple of weeks ago I was surprised to find that those in the pots had already flowered. Unfortunately they have been blown about in the recent gales and are rather the worse for wear. Those in the ground are just beginning to flower and I'm greatly looking forward to them coming into berry later in the year.

Monday, 21 April 2008


Two nights ago William brought Ian a present in the night - a dead mouse. The following day he brought two more. Today we gave him a lot to eat in the hope that he wouldn't be bothered to catch any. He slept the majority of the day, but has now gone hunting.

It appears that Ian, in an effort to encourage our squirrel, placed peanuts below the bird feeders, which encouraged the mice. Today I saw one scamper from teh bottom of the feeder into the box plants. Much as we like the mice being in the garden we shall not be putting any more food on the ground as Willam is obviously finding them an easy target. Shame.

Master slow

Having got back from California yesterday I was having a lovely relaxing lunch outside with Ian and william when I noticed that in fact there were four of us sitting on the gravel. Master slow worm was so still that we both feared he was dead. He even let ants run over him, but upon close inspection (and a little encouragement with a twig) he turned out to be very much alive.

This is the second baby slow worm we've had now; I uncovered the first last year, but it wriggled into the grass so quickly I could barely be sure that it was indeed a slow worm. This one was much less interested in getting away and actually stayed where we placed him in the undergrowth for over half an hour.

Whilst watching him we disturbed a frog. Our second frog in the garden and the first since we put in the pond. Very pleased.

Thursday, 10 April 2008


Having ordered a mixed pack of primulas from puddle plants (love the name) to go near the pond, these are my favourites

Primula japonica 'Millers Crimson'

Primula beesiana

Primula japonica 'Alba'.

Ours are only an inch tall at the moment, but hopefully I shall be able to take photos of my own soon.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Marginal plants

I placed an order with wetland plants last week. Otter Nurseries, just outside Exeter, stocks very few marginal and pond plants and they are much cheaper to buy on the internet. Not knowing how the plants would be packaged I gave them special delivery instructions, asking them to leave the plants behind our bin if we weren't at home to receive them. They arrived today, which of course happened to be bin day (so our bin was out on the street), but thankfully they left the box by the house nonetheless.

So after a very long day at work I went out in the not so pleasant cold and drizzle to pot the plants. The drizzle stopped on and off and I soon found that the cold of putting my hands deep in the pond was far worse than the air temperature. Still I was very pleased to get them all out of their newspaper and into their new home. I had previously planned exactly where the plants would go in teh pond, but the weather being bad, the bog garden not being finished and the shelves of the pond not being quite the height I needed them to be I settled for only placing the deep ones in their permanent homes and putting the rest near our new gravelly beach until later in the week.

Most of the plants I've bought for the pond and bog are natives - cotton grass, cuckoo flower, marsh marigolds, yellow flag, water mint etc, but I couldn't resist a couple of non-natives too including Iris Laevigata Variegata, primula japonica and Glyceria maxima variegata. Apologies to my father for not putting the scientific names in italics, but I've been doing that all day and now I'm tired.

Sunday, 6 April 2008


Our first snow at frog end.

Saturday, 5 April 2008


Although our greenhouse is missing a few panes of glass it's been a wonderful place for all the seeds we've planted this year. As well as the things we've planted it has been provided shelter for a variety of other wildlife. The first creatures we found were some very anaemic looking ants underneath the paving stones, but I can't find a photo of them just now.

Sycamore seedlings in the guttering

A moss of some sort.

Friday, 4 April 2008

More bulbs

Grape hyacinths in one of the pots I got for Christmas.

and a spring green tulip

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Pond skater

Insects are already beginning to colonise the pond, including a pair of pond skaters...

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

In and Out

Having decided that the adult newts had had quite enough of their little tank we put them in the pond this afternoon. One swam straight to the deep section of the pond, but the other chose to exit the water after only 10 minutes. Not sure what happened to it after that, but we're hoping that she will be back soon.

Slow worms

This morning we awoke to find that the pond was 6 inches lower than last night - about the same level as before we topped it up. Not yet sure where it is leaking, but it appears to have stopped.

Pete is away today and we are so glad to have been at home during the day. Having decided to top up the pond again to see if we could watch the water leak out I'd just put the end of the hose in the pond when up popped a lovely big slow worm who had apparently opted for a swim. He had some trouble climbing out, but with a little help from Ian made it to dry land where of course we got a couple of pictures before placing him in some vegetation.

This is the 3rd slow worm we've seen in the garden now, but the first we've managed to photograph. Does anyone know if slow worms are partial to newt?

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

A bit more water

and of course where would we be without another pond progress photo...


All of our spring bulbs have come up later than in other gardens in Exeter, presumably because they were only planted last autumn. Most of our tulips haven't even got buds on yet, with the exception of...