Spring approaches

To Ponder … “to consider or examine attentively or deliberately. Ponder implies a careful weighing of a problem or, often, prolonged inconclusive thinking about a matter.”

Mr. Badger here. At last we are into March, next weekend the clocks go forward and soon my customary winter hibernation will be broken by warmer weather and Snowdrops. The weather forecasting chaps predict that there are another two or three weeks of yo-yoing winter temperatures and perhaps a couple of last gasp storms to keep me snug here with my books and whisky but then the switch will be thrown by the gnomes in charge of the climate and spring will arrive quite rapidly … winter has its pleasures but spring is for getting out and seeing to things. Frankly, after the last few months watching the world from my underground bunker I am thinking that there are many things up above that certainly could do with seeing to, and not only horticultural affairs either.

Plus … I have more Wrens for you. There are a half dozen new photographs once you have read through my pondering  … and I also have fourteen seconds of animatedly cheerful Wren-ness a few lines down the screen in a short video that will get you all in a good mood. After this journal entry I will lay off the Wren pictures for a while, be they ever such fascinating little fellows.

Wrens are rather splendid little birds – back in England our long garden had very high beech hedge down one side and a tiny Wren … the one that’s now as a Winter Wren this side of the Atlantic … nested in amongst he close-packed branches where he was nice and safe. Woe betide any creature, human or otherwise, that passed by too closely. He would bellow and swear at the top of his voice and leave you in no doubt at all that you were expected to go away and stay away. Wrens might be small, but I doubt they really know that are. Feisty is the word. It has been said by those who measure these things, that all species of Wren emit the loudest volume of sound for a unit of body mass of almost any bird on the planet. I believe it.

The wren, the wren, the king of all birds,
St. Stephen’s Day was caught in the furze,
Although he was little his honour was great … 

Time for some Wren song? Click here … 

What to ponder upon first?

There are now three gardens depending on my input, so …

The Sparroworks Garden

This is the most important of the three and the one where the Wrens have joined us. I have several ideas for the new season, but a bit of prior negotiation may be politic before they are put irrevocably into effect. There are three things in particular that I would like to do this year:

(1) Complete the sprucing up and revitalisation of the pond following the new stonework that was done for my 70th birthday last year (thank you J).

(2) Almost certainly the battery of bird feeders is going to need modification and some increase in general sturdiness after the windy, stormy winter we will soon be emerging from. Not sure quite what form this will take but doubtless some further pondering will come up with a solution that all can live with.

(3) I would rather like to gradually start replacing the mown lawn with some more plots of native grasses and meadow flowers. Our garden has intentionally developed as a pretty effective wildlife garden with many bird and insect species visiting that would otherwise pass us by. It has been a great success and a huge pleasure, but the lawn is a bit of a wildlife desert. It’s not as large as it once was, but it still needs culling and “reimagining” – all the more so since in the past couple of years there has been an invasion of mostly native, but still undesirable, non-grass species that neither we nor the wildlife benefit from.

There will be more on this in the months ahead, We will report progress and decide how to go about effecting the changes.

But for now, I would be content just to see snowdrops – of which the brave soul on the right was the first of last spring’s joys.

The Garden at Fritz

The team have had planning meetings and we are instituting a more “scientifically based” crop rotation system from this season forward; we may even try our hands at permaculture. Hopefully the summer will not be quite as hot as in 2018 – some hope – and we achieve our usual heavy crops for distribution to our foodbank customers.

The town hall people have advised us that there may be a grant available to allow us to start planting fruit and nut trees to augment our vegetables. All the little badgers are excited at the prospect so paws crossed all round please. Of course, such trees will take several years to come into decent production and then the birds will eat all the cherries and whatever else they take a fancy to – but at least we will have blossom. That can only be a good thing.

It has been suggested by a professional that we should consider permaculture.  She made it sound very do-able but I think I need to do some reading up first. My fear is that while the theory is sound there may be an element of woo in the implementation; the word ‘holistic’ has been uttered.

The Arboretum Copse

It is still buried under feet of snow and ice but there will be melting in a few weeks and by sometime in April I can expect to go out there truffling for bugs and removing thistles and other noxious invaders. Must reassemble the group of eager volunteers to help – Mole and Ratty will be press-ganged of course and perhaps the weasels and stoats might join us too? This third summer is expected to show some serious growth – almost all the trees and shrubs planted in 2017 did very well last year, despite the heat and drought.  Will take my stout cudgel to fend off mosquitoes and overly inquisitive dogs.

Pondering on strange weather:

So – as indicated above, some proper signs of spring would be really welcome now. Traditionally, the very coldest weather should be behind us yet we have nights to come when it will be -14C or colder. Meanwhile my relatives in Britain have just had two days in a row above +20C – I guess that might take their minds off the horrors of Brexit, but still it is clear that there is undoubtedly something wrong with the world’s climate and I don’t see it getting any better. There was a article in the Guardian this week [LINK] that I found really most troubling. It’s not a long read, so check it out – my answer to their question “you are not alone”.

The trick, now it’s almost too late, is to be properly prepared and provisioned. So far we are coping …

A Grouse …

This is what I think  …

I had thought to have a political paragraph here, what with Brexit in the UK, with Cohen’s testimony in the US and the entirely avoidable Attorney-General malarky here in Canada.

But then I thought that it’s all too, too depressing and so I asked Buster for his opinion on the matter, and he, fine fellow to the right that he is, made his feeling crystal clear on the current state of the world.

I promised you more Wrens … you all love Wrens, can’t get enough of the little fellows.

Carolina Wren

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Something new this week – there is a single, featured “Photo of the Week” in a separate post. Some weeks we might offer a small collection/gallery as well but right now, just a special weekly photo. Click to have a look.