Sunday, 13 February 2011

Little Brown Things...

Mornings are still fairly dark and the evenings get dark early still too. So why does the dunnock who lives in my hedge sing and trill right through until about 2 a.m? His (or her) song is absolutely delightful and cuts right through the silence of the sacred night. Bill Oddie calls such birds 'LBTs' - little brown things, and the dunnock is one of those anonymous sort of birds I guess, but they are real characters.

Many years ago, when I worked the occasional night shift, I used to watch birds flying and singing at night in the bright lights of an industrial estate in Hull where night was lit up almost as bright as day (what a waste - no-one worked there on a night.)

We don't have the amusing spectacle of flocks of sparrows in the garden, we've never had any for donkey's years, but watching them in mother's garden is both funny and entertaining as they sit around the bird bath and play and interact.

The dunnocks bob along on the ground usually in twos, under bushes, scrabbling around in the leaves, pecking in the grass and spend very little time on the bird table where there is food aplenty. Their thin reddish legs and brown plump bodies (sounds familiar - I must go on a diet again) don't quite match their ability to produce beautiful and entertaining song.

The photograph above was taken in my mother's garden yesterday because my snowdrops have yet to flower although I notice that the white buds are not far away from opening. There are some readers of this blog who also come from God's own county - Yorkshire and it is amazing that in just a few miles, the behaviours of flowers and nature can be so different in their timings.

I can't do much in the garden at the moment; I walked down to the greenhouse yesterday to find a new pot for a house plant that had a cracked pot and the grass was sodden. We've had loads of rain and I really need to start tidying up, but the grass is easily damaged right now. It's normally toward the beginning of March that I give the grass it's first high cut, but there is no sign of growth at all. A local company has come and put some moss killer down because some of the grass sees very little sun and that's started to work already.

My other half has just brought some walnut cake and a cuppa to keep me going with all this energy I'm expending typing. Lots to do today, so hope you enjoy your Sunday.

Chat soon



  1. The birds are waking us up here too. My snowdrops are beauitful singles and doubleheaded.

    I can't wait and until it's a little drier underfoot to get started on growing my veggies.

  2. Hi Jarmara
    Good luck with the vegetables - it seems like such a long time since we've been in the garden, normally, even in the height of winter I can usually potter about doing bits and pieces - not this year!

  3. Yeh, we have a moss prob. It's because it grows before the grass does.

    No reason why one couldn't stick some garlic cloves in tho' - yup, even the stuff from the supermarket. Plenty of 'tomato feed' once a month and you'll multiply it by 10 by July/August.

    How about some taties in bags or pots? I've had success with leaving little supermarket potatoes in a warm place 'till they 'chit' - (little roots growing) breaking off all but three, and planting them in up-ended used tomato bags. By May I had new potatoes.

    Herbs and Chillies you can start indoors. No sweat.


  4. Gosh, just realised you're reading 'The Green Man' by Mike Harding. Excellent book!

    I was chuckling at 'Napoleons Retreat From Wigan' last night :)

    "....and stuck 'is 'and up 'is vest.." :)

    And his missive about 'Our Arcalayla' who wore a mattress on her back in case...

  5. Hi Wheelie
    I get all the veg from the shops these days, there's no room in the borders left and I've mulched the other borders with bark. I guess I could put some cloves in between the shrubs?
    Harding's poems are legend and I've got all the cassette tapes from the old LP albums - no longer in brilliant condition so I don't play them very often - stunningly funny entertainment.

  6. Chuckle! Yeh, you could stick a thumb in and put cloves in. The advantage is that it'll help keep bugs off the other plants. You'll get some tall green spikes by August, that the bugs will smell, but you won't.

    You might like to try that technique with some herbs? Rosemary f'rinstance is related to Lavender - you can cook with both, and both are impossible to kill accidentally. Basil is lovely and leafy and fragrant.

    Mint I'd avoid in a herbaceous border - it can take over, but great in a big pot. Coriander can grow to 3-4 tall, and though having a gorgeous smell and wonderful to cook, looks quite straggly and people can mistake it for a weed.

    Radishes are a good bet. Plonk a few seeds in, brush the bark over to keep them warm, and remember where you put them :)

    The benefits are that some edible plants have an almost symbiotic relationship with flowering plants, and protect each other. Most flowers are edible - Nastution buds are a peppery and cheap substitute for capers, and small amounts of lavender and/or Lupin (fire weed) are great in pies and hot pots :)

    You might like to transfer those tapes to DVD by the way. It's fairly cheap and straight forward, and there's free software that can clean up the audio nicely. Suspect your lad can advice you on that....