View From The Conservatory

Well, not really the view from the conservatory. More about what’s been happening in the garden, supported by a couple of photo’s.

We have had a couple of really nice days, blue skies and sunshine that have spurred us on to set about tidying up the garden. Not of course without having a spot of breakfast out on the deck. Whilst we were having our breakfast the fellow below was obtaining his.

Great Tit

This Great Tit was helping himself to the peanuts. Access had been made very easy due to the large hole the squirrels had made in our “squirrel proof” feeder. Of course I don’t begrudge him the peanuts, I don’t mind that the squirrels managed to break into feeder. My only objection is that I paid good money and that the manufacturer claimed that it was squirrel proof. I guess their product testing didn’t take into account that juvenile squirrels are small and that their head and shoulders could get through the same gaps that birds use. Oh, and that squirrel teeth must be diamond tipped as they can quite happily gnaw through steel mesh.

So back to work. Having finished our breakfast I set about a serious pruning of our apple tree. The level of my attack is such that, for the tree, it is a case of  sink or swim. I’m pretty sure there won’t be any apples this year. But I am sure, assuming the tree survives, that we will be in full production for future years. The label on the tree when we planted it said the variety was Egremont Russet and that the harvest period would be late September / October. Once the tree got into its stride, it always produced hundreds of fruit. Not that we ever managed to harvest many. The local wildlife always got there first.

First would come the squirrels. Did I mention we have squirrels ? They don’t wait for fruit or nuts to ripen. As soon as they can they are there, chomping on the green apples. Again I wouldn’t mind but I noticed they were a bit free and easy with my crop. They would grab an apple, eat half, toss the uneaten half and go get another.

Later, as the year progressed and the fruit ripened, along come the Blackbirds. They like to peck their way around the tree. They don’t eat whole apples either, just peck their way into the core then leave the apple to rot on the tree.

Finally, there are the wasps. Now these crafty blighter’s start on the really ripe apples. They seem to deliberately choose the side nearest the main trunk of the tree. Which means I couldn’t see what they were up to. I have lost count of how many apples I went to pick only to find an empty skin, still retaining the original shape. Hanging like a chinese lantern.

So this year they are all in for a shock. No apples.

Mr Robin, picture below, was very vocal during my pruning actions.


I haven’t seen any Robins eating apples but I am pretty sure they enjoy the various bugs on the tree so he was probably berating me for cutting back on his food supply.

So having decimated the apple tree, I turned my attention to cutting back the Jasmine. This was something we planted a few years back. It steadfastly refused to grow where I wanted it to go, ignored the trellis installed especially for it. That is until high winds broke said trellis causing it to hang down. The Jasmine immediately climbed aboard and smothered the trellis. The most amazing thing is that, somehow, a new clump of Jasmine self set about seventy-five feet away from the original plant and set about clambering over everything in sight. Rose bushes, Lavatera, Sweet Pea sticks and the back fence have all been fair game.

The trouble with trimming this stuff back is the way in which it twines itself around other plants. You can’t just set to, hacking and slashing, but have to unravel all of the vines, which can be a bit painful around the rose bushes which are well endowed with large thorns. We also found some sneaky brambles lurking in amongst the Jasmine vines. The spines on brambles are, I find, infinitely worse than rose thorns. Needless to say, I have several scratches and puncture wounds to show for my troubles.

All of my efforts have been overseen by Masher from his vantage point in the bird bath.


He’s called Masher as that was his previous function. He is a spud basher extraordinaire. However he was damaging our saucepans, so he was evicted from the kitchen and now spends his time trying to intimidate the pigeons who come for a drink. They don’t seem to care about his evil eye so he has become redundant as a bird scarer.

As I said, we’ve had a couple of really nice days. On the second day I took advantage of the fine weather to start another project, the laying of a base for the BBQ.

I am cheating somewhat, having purchased a few square metres of interlocking plastic shed base. The idea is that having roughly levelled the ground, I will position the plastic interlocking tiles on the prepared ground. Then a cement mix will be poured over the whole, filling the spaces in the tiles and providing a level base for the positioning of patio slabs. That’s the theory anyway. At this point I have levelled the ground and positioned the interlocking  plastic tiles.


Also keeping a watchful eye on my activities was Arry the Ant. I think he could tell I was getting a little overheated and offered a refreshing drink of water.

The BBQ base has not been completed, unfortunately, it has rained all day today so the final stage, the cement and laying of the patio slabs has been deferred.

Perhaps tomorrow, for now I have aches in places I didn’t know existed. But I do have a sense of having achieved something. The garden is looking tidier.

That Robin Again

Oh and something else, people keep asking me how I am enjoying retirement. Well over the last couple of days I have come to realise that I am liking it just fine. Being able to do stuff when you want to, being able to sit out in the sunshine having breakfast or lunch on a weekday seems to good to be true. But after all, that’s what I worked 38 years for.


View From The Conservatory


The skies of steel and fields white with frost
Are memories of yesterday
And white scarecrow children search the hedgerows … and splash
Through muddy pools for secrets … the spirit of the spring,
With the sunbeams on her hair … shakes the sleeping earth …
And with the pilgrim by her side … she murmurs in the trees …
And in the ears of all who listen … “Now … time to wake … for winter has gone”.

Credit to Chris Simpson of  Magna Carta from their fabulous album “Seasons” and quoted here because I was reminded of the album, as I was preparing to post some photos from my back garden, and it seemed rather appropriate.

Spring is well and truly here and there are fresh shoots and flowers appearing all over the place.

One of the first flowers to put in an appearance has been this white Camellia, a gift from our granddaughters a couple of years ago. This is one of three, unfortunately only two survived the first winter.


Always quick off the mark are the roses. Sometimes I find the fresh leaves bursting forth much more attractive than the flowers. I have no idea of the species name for this example but it always produces wonderfully blousey pink flowers with a beautiful scent.


A couple of years ago we planted half a dozen Primula in a small raised bed. They refused to obey the rules of boundary and are steadily spreading throughout what we laughingly call our lawn. The flowers are so pretty that I have to avoid them, when I eventually get round to mowing the grass, leaving ragged tufts of long grass scattered around the garden. At least until the flowers are gone. Then it’s a Primula massacre.


Of course it’s not only the plants that burst forth, full of the joys of spring. The birds are at it too. Over the last few days we have noticed many species visiting our garden including Jays, Woodpeckers, Wrens, Blackbirds, Robins and Tits. Of course the tits are with us all year round as are the Robins and not forgetting the vultures, sorry, Wood Pigeon’s.


As the Jays, Woodpeckers,  Blackbirds and Robins have been arriving in pairs I have been half expecting Noah to pull up alongside our deck aboard his Ark. Of course the Tis always arrive en masse, especially the Long-Tailed variety. Hustling through the trees, chattering away. Raiding our garden and feeders before moving on to the next.


We have had a Hazel tree ever since we moved into this house some thirty years ago. Every year it gives us a grand display of red leaves and later carries large numbers of nuts. Of course we never get to harvest them. The squirrels always seem to discover them before they get a chance to ripen. The ground below the tree is strewn with the discarded shells with tops cut off. Just like a decapitated hard-boiled egg.

Grape Hyacinth

Our Grape Hyacinths grow in number every year. Unfortunately, due to our garden being churned up during the conservatory rebuild, this year the numbers are down. We are looking forward to them reclaiming the garden over future years as things settle down.

We are now looking forward to getting out there and making the most of the garden as the warmer weather comes along.