This Turkish crocus is usually the second to flower in my Lincolnshire garden. A big advantage of our moderate English climate is that spring flowers start early.
No more rants this week. Just gardens and nature.
GARDENS. What a frustrating time this can be. The recent temperature rise has spurred on early plants but the ground is still too sodden with past rains for any attempt at cultivation.
I’ve managed to pull out a few of the more obvious weeds and cut dead vegetation away. But when you garden for nature – as well as the joy of cultivation – every action needs to be considered first.
Putting pressure on wet ground ruins soil – so it’s wise to keep off beds or borders. Wet ground is also hellish for knee joints – especially ancient ones. But if you don’t cut away dead perennials, early treasures like crocuses may be hidden from view.
The pace is quickening, too. In 24 hours snowdrop and aconite numbers seem to have doubled. Wild daffodils, Narcissus pseudonarcissus var. lobularis are poking through the turf and hazel catkins are extending.
February is a stop-start month. But when tepid air blows from the Atlantic, it’s all go.
The first crocus to bloom in our garden – sometimes even on New Year’s Day. These flowers have yet to open but when they do, gorgeous lilac-mauve tepals will be displayed. Watch this space!
NATURE. The rooks are starting to build. Well, they’ve begun to squabble about nest sites, anyway. A small group of ash trees, visible from our kitchen window, holds a small rookery – usually between 5 and 10 nests. This is a satellite from the much larger colony in woodland a couple of miles west.
Satellite rookeries are often occupied by young birds with limited nesting and parenthood experience. But with all rooks, life is a constant squabble. And when nesting begins, there are noisy exchanges, threatening postures and a certain amount of bullying.
When rooks go off in search of nesting material – usually young twigs yanked from the tops of nearby trees – one of the pair must stay behind to guard the nest. If it doesn’t, neighbouring birds quickly steal the materials and a new building project becomes a wreck in moments.
We’re lucky to have a large rook population in this part of Eastern England. Though most of the agriculture is arable, there are still a few livestock farms and a substantial dairy herd in the next village. That means worm-rich soils which suit rooks to a tee. We also have extensive woodland close-by and with grass and arable fields alongside it, the rooks have an almost ideal habitat.
I’m listening to Pohjola’s Daughter Op 49 by Sibelius.
This week’s film was The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, directed by Michael Curtiz – he of the immortal and unsurpassable Casablanca.
Mark Twain’s novel adapts sweetly to the screen in this innocent and charming 1961 production. His humour and deep love of the Mississippi comes through especially well.
There’s a cameo appearance by Harry Dean Stanton – a long time before the Wim Wenders classic, Paris Texas.
Bye for now!