Rather a short journal entry this week, we fear. Quiet, getting colder, lots of shades of brown and still leaves hanging on determinedly to some of the trees. The only stand-out colour comes from the red berries on the Viburnum and the new plantings of Ilex verticiliata- featured image above –  at the back of the garden with its very red berries indeed … these bushes should grow to 8 or 10 feet in height when the show ought to be magnificent (hope they grow fast, we are not getting any younger 🙂 )

We have had periods of pouring rain, a small snow flurry that melted away and there is a decent snowfall predicted for the middle of the week to come but otherwise the garden is well and truly hunkered down. A good sized flock of Goldfinches is making good use of the feeders and the usual other species of birds are round and about. Once winter really arrives (-17C on Sunday night apparently) with a good snow cover then the feeders will be providing a more important resource and will start to draw in the winter birds. Hopefully this year will see a good irruption of winter finches from the north … but who knows?

As is obvious to anyone following this journal, we manage our garden for the wildlife – mostly that means the birds but skunks (which the spellchecker constantly tries to change to skink), raccoons, the occasional fox, lots of squirrels, a few rabbits and assorted species of mice all pass through on their daily rounds. Insects in season too. Primarily this is down to having a good range of native species but the main attraction for them is probably the density of the marginal plantings of trees and shrubs that we have put together; shelter from the weather and from predators being of great importance. It is also important that we have growth from the ground up – far too many gardens are clear-trimmed up to six or seven feet and birds in particular do not like that.

Come the year’s end we will put together a summary of the 2017 gardening and wildlife highlights. Next year’s plans will include some serious development of our ideas out to the front of the house. There is a huge paper birch, rowan tree and magnolia plus a drainage ditch being taken over (under guidance from us) by native seed-bearing perennials and some very rough grass. It would be nice to make things even denser and more interesting, though the grassed area cannot entirely disappear as it holds a good annual display of daffodills – the first real sign that winter is behind us. Funnily, the neighbours and dog-walkers all enjoy the spring colours of the daffs yet don’t try to plant their own despite these being perhaps the easiest of all flowers to grow.

So – some pictures of this week’s brown display …

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The gardener’s escape

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Small flurries settle on the magnolia leaves

Sage

Magnolia stellata

Pin oak … should have shed all its leaves by now but this is a funny sort of year