Well, that’s is finally that. A small fall of snow last Sunday followed by a mid-week twenty-four hour dump and we think we can say that the gardening season is over and now we can just look forward to welcoming and commenting on the visits by our birds and squirrels and other neighbourhood creatures. The week ahead includes the winter solstice which, although we celebrate Christmas, is more meaningful to us as it marks the turn of the year and the beginning of the run up to spring and getting back into full gardening mode once more. The time for hibernating and planning is upon us. The windchill was in the mid-minus twenties for a couple of days.

The family bunny put in an appearance again – we like to see him/her but do hope that this winter he doesn’t dine off the bark of our more tasty trees. Damage was done last year and if he repeats his menu selections in the weeks ahead he may be heading for a pie … well, not really, but his ears will be ringing.

A small flock of Euro Starlings have come to the neighbourhood and a couple have found our suet blocks. Their friends and relations will undoubtedly not be far behind. The Carolina Wren is now putting in regular appearances along with a good numbers of DE Juncos all jostling for perches on the feeders. Earlier this year we installed what must be the umpteenth “best ever” niger seed feeder and this time we seem to have come up with one that the birds like as well as we do. This one has horizontal perches opposite each “port” and they are covered with a plastic sleeve that makes perching – which they clearly prefer – much easier for them than hanging onto wire mesh and other variants.

Shortly we will be starting our winter job of keeping the many feeders at the nearby bird banding station filled over the winter – that’s a task we greatly look forward to while our garden is slumbering. We need snowshoes to gain access and there are no buildings nearby so we get to see a different range of species… also it is quiet and isolated, just what we unsociable types enjoy.

From the archives – January 2012 …be you native plant lovers and gardeners or not, there is a fairly good chance that several readers of this journal cultivate potted bulbs indoors during the winter. Five years ago I wrote this informational piece … anyway, it just resurfaced and things being quiet outside I thought it worth repeating because, well, this stuff is just interesting. So … “Let’s have a bio-nerd moment. A couple of centuries ago Linnaeus classified two species of, on the face of it, similar flowering plants – one from South-Africa and one from South-America.  One was put into the genus Amaryllis and one into Hippeastrum.  The flower we have in our house right now, and the flower that you and a million others probably also have is sold as an Amaryllis … but it isn’t.  Back in the 1930’s the botanists of the world realised that nobody knew which was the type-specimen that Linnaeus had studied and after much discussion it was determined that the South American plant is really the Hippeastrum while the South African one is the Amaryllis … all well and good were it not for the fact that the one the florists sell and we grow and enjoy is the South American species and so should be named and sold as a Hippeastrum yet the floral trade resolutely and totally incorrectly have stuck to calling them Amaryllis.  After 70+ years you would think that they might have caught on my now and got it right, but no, too much trouble.  After all, what do these botanical taxonomists know about it?”

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Ready for the birds and squirrels

Eagerly trying to unearth what he had cached in summer

A corner of the garden around 9pm with no visible light … but give the camera a long enough exposure and it’s remarkable how much light there actually is for the night creatures whose eyes can use it

14 December – luchtime snack