Notes from a riverside garden – February 2019

Notes from a riverside garden – February 2019

Our blog post today comes from SB with “Garden Clippings”, her seasonal observations from her garden on the banks of the River Stour. In this edition SB is surprised by an opportunistic visitor to the garden!

Garden Clippings

We have had a sparrow terrace nest box on our garage apex for several years now and this is being used regular by house sparrows and occasionally great tits.  As we have a larger number of house sparrows in the garden we decided to make our terrace into a sparrow street and have added two more terraces providing a total of nine nesting sites.  The new boxes may not be used this spring, we shall have to wait and see. 

Pruning is being done as the weather allows.  The several clematis around the garden have been cut down and progress is being made on the climbing roses.  We have a large pergola with various roses, a pale pink Montana clematis, fragrant summer jasmine and a white wisteria twisting its way through the roses.  We are gradually training it along the length of the pergola.   Pruning this large area is quite a challenge but well worth the effort, particularly for the wisteria which rewards us with a mass of cascading white flowers to walk beneath.  We do not prune the jasmine or the clematis.  Although following severe winters we have had to cut the jasmine hard back to regenerate it.

Today, as no frost is forecast, I have been cutting back our five buddleia on the butterfly bank, all different shades of mauves and a white when in flower. Two sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’ and a variegated box elder, which need hard pruning to keep them a reasonable shape as they put on a large amount of growth each year.  One of the sambucus nigra is located close to our group of three mature silver birch which are underplanted with snowdrops.  It has been a windy day and the snowdrops looked fantastic jingling their numerous heads in the breeze.  The strong wind had caused numerous sprays of fine birch twigs to tumble from the trees.  I will be gathering these up as they make excellent kindling for our wood burning stove, even straight from the garden they burn fiercely and only a small amount is needed to light a fire.

We feed the birds suet blocks in a metal, cage like feeder.  The blocks seemed to be consumed at quite a rate and regularly needed refilling.  Despite an almost constant coming and going of great tits, blue tits and long-tailed tits we were suspicious they were not alone in appreciating the fine dining on offer.  The “extra guest” revealed itself this week – I glanced out of the window to see a bank vole tucking into the suet block!  Accessing the feeder via a very narrow branch which conveniently rose up in front of the feeder providing the vole with the perfect route to the food.  After eating its fill it disappeared in a flash down the branch and into the dense foliage of the hedge behind.  Amazingly, it had climbed around twelve feet through the ivy-clad forsythia to reach the feeder!  SB