As many of you know, I love my garden and over the years, I’ve written quite a lot about it.
I originally started this article in February, whilst looking out of my French windows at a very snowy and cold garden, but hopefully by the time you get to read this in April, we will be enjoying a bit of warmth and sun. Ever the optimist here!
Those of you in the UK will probably remember the RSPB’s Garden Birdwatch back in January. This is something I have taken part in for many years now and having a beautiful 120 year old Ash tree, we are blessed with many feathered visitors. Our old cat, having just turned 17, is not a bit interested in the birds, although I do have to keep an eye out for neighbours’ cats who wander through the garden.
This year, the Birdwatch took place on a rather wet and miserable weekend. Those who took part spent an hour just sitting and watching what birds came into their garden/yard or plot of land. The idea was that we took note of the highest number of each species of bird we saw at any one time, rather than a running total.
Here in West London (I’m right next to Twickenham Rugby Ground and about 5 miles from Heathrow airport), we actually get a surprising number of different birds, notably a large flock of green parrots. The theory is that the original pair escaped or were released in a nearby park a few years ago, thrived and flourished and can now be seen frequently in this part of London. On the day I was watching though, there were only 4 brave parrots to make an appearance, rather than the usual 10 or 12!
Compared to other years’ figures, the numbers of birds were lower than expected but I put this down to the weather. Well would you go out in the cold and wet if you didn’t have to? I sat in the comfort of the living room looking out of the windows but other years when it has not been so cold or wet, I’ve sat in our ‘garden room’ which is what we call the covered area over the patio at the back of the house.
In January 2012, I saw 15 wood pigeons, 1 magpie, 2 sparrows, 1 robin, 1 blackbird and 4 squirrels in the space on an hour. (I always make a note of any other wildlife seen too) and these numbers seem to be about average for this time of year. During February each year, we usually see two pairs of robins, who despite the odd falling out over territory, have been nesting quite successfully in the ivy for some time now. Robins to me, and I’m sure to a lot of you too, are messengers from Spirit and there is always at least one out with me when I’m working in the garden. For me they are symbolic of my Mum & Dad.
During the summer months of course, there is a lot more activity and we’ve seen wrens, coal tits, blue tits, crows, jays and in 2020, we did have a woodpecker up in the tree. Now I’ve mentioned squirrels, who nest in the Ash tree, but we also have foxes, frogs in the pond and very occasionally we’ve seen little bats flying at dusk too. Not bad for a medium sized suburban garden! There is a large park next to us as well, with several stately and also very old trees, which in turn support a lot of wildlife too.
Nature is very important to me and the garden, particularly during the lockdowns we’ve had, has been a very special place. If it’s sunny and warm, I’ll take a cuppa out and sit by the pond or if it’s a bit cool, I’ll sit in the greenhouse or the garden room. I think it was Alan Titchmarsh (Gardener & TV presenter) who referring to being in his garden, said “Sometimes I just sit and think and sometimes I just sit”. To me a perfect way to spend a few quite moments in the garden!