Sunday, 30 March 2008



A brief flurry on Easter Saturday...

Friday, 21 March 2008

Thursday 20th March 2008

For the last couple of weeks the birds have ceased to pick at all the Primulas and some of them are looking at their peak. This waxy looking orange one was new last year. I wonder if it will revert to the standard pink form over the years and, if so, how long it will take.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Monday, 17th March 2008


I took the bus into Birkenhead this morning and was cheered by the plentiful Primulas that Wirral Council have been planted around the borough at roadsides – as here at Arrowe Park, on roundabouts and in Hamilton Square.

Hamilton Square dates from 1826 and has the most Grade 1 listed buildings in one place in England, except for Trafalgar Square in London.

The Town Hall – which now serves as the Wirral Museum - was built in 1887 of sandstone taken from Storeton Quarry.

In Hamilton Square is a replica Eleanor Cross. Edward I had ornate crosses like this erected at twelve places where the body of his Queen, Eleanor of Castile, rested on the route to Westminster after her death at Harby in Northamptonshire in 1290.

The grief-stricken Edward ordered that she should be embalmed and her entrails buried at Lincoln Cathedral before her body was carried in a sombre procession to Westminster Abbey. The crosses at Geddington, Hardingstone, and Waltham Cross survive to this day. The last cross on the route was at Charing Cross where a highly imaginative reconstruction of the original 13th Century structure now stands.

Attracted by the primulas in Hamilton Square I saw my first butterfly of the year – a Peacock. I saw my first bumblebee yesterday, at home in Pensby.

This modern obelisk is one of a number which have been erected to mark the boundaries of the Hamilton quarter.

Just by this obelisk are a few young London Plane trees which, at this time of year, can be distinguished by their fruits even when the bark is not obvious.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Sunday 16th March 2008


The Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger) has just reached its peak of flowering in time for this year’s early Easter which is next weekend. I don’t know if its the way I treat it but my Christmas Rose is always very straggly and tends to hide its flowers away among its leaves, which themselves lie along the ground. As result I have to lift the flowers up with one hand while photographing them with the other. I’m thinking of putting it in a pot later in the year to see if I can improve its shape next winter. It’s ironic that while all the Easter flowering plants were out in January the Christmas Rose has only now come into its best. My other Hellebore, the Green Hellebore (Helleborus viridis )has yet to flower this year.

We have a super patch of violets under the Lilac tree, a spot where it never gets any sun the whole year round. I would love to be able to glance at a violet and tell which one it is but I have problems galore. Rarely do I manage to be sure of my identification. It does not help that my neuropathy (and smoking) have taken away most of my sense of smell. I’m fairly sure these are Sweet Violets (Viola odorata).

Also known as the Common Violet (which it is not in the North or N Wales where the Common Dog Violet – Viola riviniana - is the common species), Sweet Violet, Common Violet and Garden Violet. It does occur as a garden weed and its location in this lost corner suggests it has arrived there uninvited but nevertheless exceptionally welcome. It is commonly known as Sweet Violet, English Violet, Common Violet, or Garden Violet.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Friday 14th March 2008


The first frogspawn in the ponds...

Thursday, 13 March 2008


Ted Lawson, a fellow member of the Cheshire Amphibians and Reptiles Group, has kept a note of the date on which frog spawn has appeared in his Cheshire garden pond since its creation in 2001. Mine has yet to materialize but his appeared on 8/9 March. The records from previous years are:-
2007 5/6 March
2006 26/27 March
2005 10/11 March and 15/16 March
2004 13/14 March and 3/4 April
2003 11/12 March
2002 21/22 March

Monday, 10 March 2008

Monday, 10th March 2008


By 6 am there were homes without electricity in the South West, trees down and sea defences being breached. I have never seen the barometer so low. I’m sure it is nothing special in national or historical terms but 28.2 inches of mercury (and still falling) looks pretty low to me. It translates as 955Mb.

Sunday 9th March 2008


There has been much hype about the ‘Storm of the Winter’ being on its way. It is due to hit tomorrow – Monday 10th March. This morning it was sunny and I went out around Marlfield Lane / Gills Lane. There is a Birch tree down already but I think it must have been felled by the last serious gales we had – in January. Those gales blew out next door’s loft window and destroyed part of their car-port.

The clouds were building up and it although it looks pretty it does look as if the front is about to hit.

Friday, 7 March 2008

7th March 2008


I should have known better than to imply this morning that the garden was boring at the moment. Once the stratus clouds lifted and the sun came out I explored and found all sorts of interesting things including the first Tulip of the year.

The Hyacinths are well out already.

And in the tubs the Primulas and Primroses have been out throughout the winter but the birds now seem to have stopped picking at them so they are looking much better.

Under the hedge the Cowslips are coming out. I love them.

In the middle pond a male frog of a fair size is waiting for the females to appear. When picked up to check he was a male and not a female (though with its slim body there wasn’t much doubt) he croaked pleasantly at me. A couple of years ago we had about a dozen of them really croaking loudly and it was a tremendous sound.

Although I have seen frogs previously this year this is the first one that has appeared ‘naturally’ – i.e. without being disturbed while weeding or cleaning out ponds.

Wednesday 27th February 2008


This wonderful cherry of an unknown variety – a Winter Cherry or an Early-flowering Cherry which looks very like our St Lucie Cherry – is just down Pensby Road from us. Both last year and this it has been absolutely covered in blossom.



It really is a quiet time of year in the garden. The weather has been horrioble for a week or so and I haven't even been out in the back other than to pick up the blown over plant pots.

So I am whiling away my time reading and one of the books that I have on the go is "The Cloudspotters Guide" by Gavin Pretor-Pinney. A most enjoyable read, it will be entered in my book review blog when I've finished it.

Over the years I have photographed many hundreds of clouds but at the moment all I can see are low and even, dirty grey, stratus. So I thought I'd cheat and show a few from more interesting days...