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Lockdown Nature Notes, Part 2

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This year Spring was cold and delayed apart from a few very hot days. Then it was summer. Plants have reacted differently to this shift, with some flowering much later than last year. There have been far fewer butterflies but twice I have spotted a small, red butterfly that I had not seen before. I think it is the cinnabar, looking at the photo I found on the internet.

We have had a wet summer so far and my enclosed garden, a wonderful place of solace for me and the birds that frequent it, is awash with colour. Around the pond in the centre I grew mainly wildflowers from seed, a veritable feast for the bees.

During the pandemic it is really only I – and God – who see my enclosed garden, somewhat like parts of cathedrals which are exquisitely developed even though no one can see them. Thus I decided to expand my pots and flowers in the front of my house, including a solar powered water feature. I found two lovely two- and three-tiered metal plant holders and also took my open bird feeder from the enclosed garden – it was attracting far too many pigeons to the understandable chagrin of my neighbours – attached three metal hanging baskets to it and painted it all in a metallic gold, anti-rust paint, which ensures it will last.

I love petunias and Livingstone daisies. As you will see from the photos the petunias have flourished in the top-tier of one of the plant holders. Livingstone daisies, indigenous to South Africa, grow well from seed and this year I have staggered them by planting seeds in pots at different times. One plant can deliver many luminescent flowers, and it is as though the lights have been switched on in one’s garden.

Above and left you can see the two-tier plant holder with petunias in the top basket and Livingstone daisies in the lower tier. 

Livingstone daisies also make for a lovely gift, especially in these strange times. I planted seedlings in four pots and once they were a reasonable size gave them away to neighbours. 

Mr and Mrs Blackbird have been back again this year. I think I understand better now why they take ownership of my enclosed garden and chase other birds away. This is one of their major safe places they bring their young who hide out in the borders of my garden. As they grew more courageous it was like a playground at times with the youngsters bouncing after one of the parents chirping for food. I spotted the mother with a huge earthworm which the chick had no chance of eating. After repeated attempts they moved on to other food! This is one of the chicks. They are not always easy to photograph but are remarkably relaxed in the garden once they know it is a safe place. 

My solarium is a wonderful place from which to survey my small garden. Just outside it I planted a rock garden which survived the winter and continues to flower. I retain a bespoke bird feeder, and have it positioned right by my apple tree so that the small birds can move in and out at ease. In Spring it got a repaint with a red roof.