January 2017 garden diary

The wood pigeons gather daily in a threesome on the apex of the shed roof to court, squabble, kiss, argue and for mutual preening. In the midst of the winter freeze, they’ve started to collect twigs for nest-building. I call that keen.


But in the distance, the unmistakeable call of the sparrowhawk reminds all concerned that the price of life is constant vigilance. When a sparrowhawk is in the area, the cries that can be heard are most often warning messages; but on other occasions they’re the screams of a poor bird being consumed alive by the raptor. pigeon1Nature, as Tennyson famously pointed out in Canto 56 of his epic poem In Memoriam A.H.H., will always be “red in tooth and claw”. For a dove, it may not be too wise to sit out in the open, even if one’s feathers match the colour of the background.

Three grey squirrels use the roof as a runway to the big old horse chestnut tree. These too congregate in threes. It’s fun to watch them scurry at such breakneck speed, around and down, up and across the gnarled branches, where their colouring camouflages them so well that sometimes they seem to make the branches come alive. Although they’ve got their furry coats, I’m sure running helps to keep them extra warm.

The waxy leaves of the spectacular Phormium are equally well covered against the cold – they put on a fine display even in the depths of winter …


… whilst the visual effect of the similarly-enrobed, variegated Holly is more muted, though just as welcome.


In truth there are not too many flowers to be seen at this time of year, in our new garden. We’ve solved the mystery of the bulbs by the foot of the Twisted Willow, though – Snowdrops, of course.


Elsewhere, blossom is just breaking on the ornamental Cherry


… and the Viburnum seems rather coy, slow to establish the anticipated snowstorm of white blooms.


Our Penstemons are looking ‘leggy’, as (being new to the garden) we didn’t get round to pruning them last autumn.


So, it will be interesting to watch as things develop through our first Spring here.

But Summer certainly seems a long way off …



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