Archive for March, 2011

A day in the life of a duck

March 27th, 2011


This piece should really be titled a day in the life of two ducks and it begins in the dark of the duck house sometime before 8 am.  As it gets light around 7.30 probably before then, but it is hard to tell as I am not there at that time.  I only see the results when I go to let the girls out around about 8.  There they are the two eggs, laying in the nest snug and close, sometimes with a few feathers arranged on the top, sometimes almost buried in the hay.  Hidden, you might say.  I often wonder about the way the girls lay their eggs and long to borrow David Attenborough’s web cam so I can see wether they both sit together on the nest and lay them next to each other or if one duck does it and then the other one thinks, ‘Well, thats a good idea, perhaps I should go over there and do one of those too!’  Whatever way it happens in the dark of night, when I go to let out the girls -there they usually are!

the eggs in the nest, with a feather on top

Of course, getting let out into the back garden is a very exciting event for a duck and there is a great deal of quacking and tut tutting while they patter across and through the back gate to the safety of the back yard where I can keep an eye on them from the kitchen window.  Sometimes they will head under the lemon tree or down into the sunken garden to see what delights they may find in and under the mulch.  Other days they head for the little paddle pool for a bit of a wash.  But whatever they decide to do first up -they move as one.  Chattering to each other all the time.

in the duck pen

You can learn quite a lot from watching ducks.  If for example they are feeling a little nervous, or unsure of themselves the best thing to do is to take a drink of water.  This usually makes them feel much better, more in control.  Of course, being ducks some of the things they do don’t make any sense at all, but then quite often the things we humans do also make little sense.  For example, if they are really scared, maybe the cat next door is close by or somebody visiting me heads out into my back yard to ‘see’ the ducks, they stop what ever they are doing and stretch out their necks and stay very still.  I understand the staying still part, but they neck thing seems a little risky when you think about it. 

Waddles, when she was a little duckling

Duck days are really busy, but there is always time for a little nap after lunch.  This is best to be had on some warm grass or if the weather is a little chilly, with a bit of a wind on the back door step.  And it is very upsetting for a duck when some human should want to use said step to get out of the house during nap time.  Ruffled feathers indeed!   After the nap it is more of the same, but very, very busy at it!   Later in the afternoon, they have a bit of a confrence and decide that it is time to go to the duck house and time to let the human [thats me] know by doing a great deal of quacking.  And so, the day ends.  Another day in the life of a duck!

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March Jobs

March 22nd, 2011


I have a little patch of spare empty space in a garden bed.  I plan to fill it with some winter annuals such as Cinerarias or Polyanthus, I am leaning towards the Cinerarias as I have not had a place for them in the garden for quite some years and they are so rewarding to grow.  So one little task for the month ahead, or what is left of it is to prepare the area I had in mind by digging in some mulch, perhaps adding a little blood & bone and then heading off to the nursery to bring home some baby plants.  Cinerarias are great because they give lovely colour and don’t mind a little shade.  They flower at the end of winter and it just lifts the spirits to see them.

my layer pot, last spring

Talking about the end of winter, although we are only just beginning autumn it is time, once again for the bulbs.  March is the perfect time to plant spring flowering bulbs, especially when we have had all this rain and the ground is nice and soft.  I like to get all my bulbs planted by the end of April.   So, while I am out purchasing my Cinerarias I will also be checking out some bulbs.    The best way to judge the correct depth to plant a bulb is to make a hole twice the depth of the bulb.  If you plant closer to the surface, the bulb will be vulnerable to splitting in hot weather.

time to plant some bulbs!

Last year I did a ‘layer’ pot which worked out very well indeed, most pleased with myself with that one!  But this year I might try some coming up inbetween violas or alyssum and I have a great need for some deep blue iris.  Of course I will also need a bowl of glorious scented hyacinth, so easy to grow and so incredibly rewarding.  Once they start to flower they are a delight to bring inside, where they fill the whole room with their scent.

Well, I am off to buy some bulbs.  Happy gardening!

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Making your world a more beautiful place

March 18th, 2011

a vase of flowers cheers you up

Growing flowers makes the world a more beautiful place to live.  Flowers are magic, they are irresistible to birds, bees, butterflies and people as well!  Flowers smell good and good smells make you happier, thats why they tell you to smell the roses!

flowers bring colour into our world

Flowers have deep roots in the human psyche.  They make us think  of love, passion, harmony, peace, beauty, they are perhaps the most powerful of all human symbols.  We present them at births or funerals; brides carry bouquets; lovers send flowers; flowers are brought into hospitals all over to cheer up people who are unwell.

You just can not have too many flowers in the garden, they tell you the season.   You are never poor if you have flowers growing in your garden.  You can give yourself the gift of a vase of flowers any time you like.  You can take a bunch when you visit friends. 

Flowers bring back memories.  The first red rose your lover gave you, the forget-me-nots you used to pick when you were a little girl, the first camelia you saw open in your first garden.  Flowers are magic.  Well, I am off to smell the roses!

Happy gardening!

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The March Garden

March 13th, 2011

the exquisitely scented ginger lilies

March is the first month of autumn.   This summer has been very wet indeed!  Much of my back yard was under water for a day or so and a lot of my little plants, even some big ones either washed away or seem very unhappy and might well need to be replaced.  The soil might need a little bit of a helping hand as well, with forking it over and adding in some mulch, start to build it up again, it is in a pretty poor shape at present, so there will need to be some work done before replacing those plants.  The ginger lilies however are loving it!

Wick-Wick the duck, always ready to help inspect the garden!

 Autumn is a very good time to inspect the garden for plants that have not coped well and to replace them.  It is a chance to make some changes.   I used to be so afraid to rip things out when I first began to work in the garden.  If a plant was sick, I felt it my duty to do all in my power to nurse it back to health.  Even in the garden centres I was drawn to the sick plants on the ‘sale tray’ down the back.  Poor little things, they needed love and attention!  I had to take them home and plant them and look after them.  When they died I felt I had failed them in some way.  But, I am over that now.  I still tend to err on the side of ‘giving them a bit more of a go’ but now I am much more inclined to cut my losses and start all over again, and I avoid the ‘sale tray’ at garden centres altogether, it just isn’t worth the effort.

March is also the day- dreaming month!  It is time to get out the summer catalogues and dream of which bulbs to order for the spring flowering!  Of course, with the shady glade that is my garden I usually have to stick to the tried and true but one can dream…

Happy gardening!

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