Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Spring at Bishops Knoll

I was at Bishops Knoll Nature Reserve yesterday (hurrah for light evenings...!) collecting pine cones in preparation for the swag making course I am running at the Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project on the 10th December this year.  Anyhow, took the camera and got this picture of the bottom of the steps.  Primroses and wild garlic.  Lovely.

I know it seems really early to be preparing for the courses but the cones there are nice, plus it is a good excuse to be ferreting around in the woods amongst the rabbit holes and badger diggings watching the spring do its thing....

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Whose garden is it anyway ?

I spent the day in the garden today doing some sowing, planting and weeding.    Lily, our Tabby always livens things up by repeatedly attacking me when I am least expecting it.  She does this occasionally in the house but really goes for it in the back garden.  I can be digging away quite happily and suddenly she will pounce on me open jawed and claws out. I cant quite make it out - but I think it could be something along the same lines as dog-walkers' attitude to public parks.  As she is sinking her teeth into my arm (she draws blood..) she has this expression on her face like "well, some of us are committed to shitting in these flower beds 365 days a year, we are not just out here when the weather is good". Or maybe not.  Anyhow, its really annoying.  

The sweet peas are hardening off outside and the leeks are up and will need pricking out shortly.  I planted out about a dozen Verbascum Southern Charm which were sown last year and have been in the cold frame all winter.  They look quite good.  Also direct sowed some poppies and rocket so the slugs will no doubt have all those.  In pots inside are some courgettes, several types of sunflowers and something I found in an envelope marked "weird tall Kiftsgate thingy" which was a seed pod from when we visited Kiftsgate Court last year.  Lets see what comes up and then I can try to identify it.  Lots more to do.  The Pulmonaria and Primroses are out and the Forget-me-nots are just coming into flower.

The Camellia by the front door is is full flower. Invasive weed of the week - bindweed.  It's like the enemy below. Not up yet but every forkful FULL of bindweed root.  Pah.  

Monday, 21 March 2011

Limbering up for Mothers Day

I've been busy with the lovely willow I got last month making heart bases in different sizes (some really small that will fit in a 15cm box) and getting some dried flowers together to make some Mother's Day and Easter treats in preparation for the Whiteladies Road Farmers Markets on the 2nd and 16th April in Bristol.

I'm getting there.  Really pleased with them now.  Here is the small heart wreath (above) which will be boxed with gift cards, and below is the regular size heart wreath.  These have nigella but some will have dried roses - all of them slightly different.

I now need to update the website but want to get these finished before I do.

Also sowing nigella, poppies and shortly going to make some more lavender cuttings in order that I have lots of new materials to work with during the summer.

Have fed all the soft fruit (the tays, blackcurrants and raspberries are beginning to bud) and dug out this week's weed of the week... the buttercup - well, as much as I could.  There are a million gardening jobs also to be done and other things to sow.  Its the spring equinox today and it feels good. I am list making like mad and scurrying around... need to take some more photos but these will do for now....

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Starlings at Shapwick Heath

This weekend we were down on the Somerset Levels visiting  Musgrove Willows in Westonzoyland to buy some cut Willow (Flanders Red for me - beautiful, waxy, straight 4' withies) and new basketmaking tools to start work on some decorated hearts for Mothers Day and Easter for the Farmers Market at Whiteladies in April.   Westonzoyland is where the Battle of Sedgemoor was fought in 1685, the last battle of the Monmouth Rebellion.  All quiet there tho' this weekend.  This is low marshland with drainage ditches around the place and pumping stations. It feels slightly surreal, not helped much by the farmer at MW loading a wicker coffin into the back of a vehicle as we arrived (empty, we think).


We then headed off to Shapwick Heath to watch the starling murmurations.  As dusk fell hundreds of thousands of starlings flew into the Heath from every direction and settled in the reed beds to roost for the evening a couple of fields away from where we were watching.  Brilliant.   This used to be a regular feature of city life in Bristol where they would come to roost under the bridges making the most amazing patterns in the evening sky over the City Centre where I worked. I would watch them out of my office window during the winter months during the late 1980 and 1990s thinking that this happened in every city.  Sadly, there are very few starlings in Bristol and no evening spectacle any more.  Maybe something to do with the declining starling population - but today, at least, I was happy to think that they had all got fed up with doing battle with the seagulls and pigeons and had decided to head for a better life here in the wild, wet Somerset countryside.

I am now weaving this lovely willow and snipping away with my new sharp, sharp little basketmaking snips.  Will post some pics once I am happy with the prototypes.  Not quite there yet.. :)