I have been slack this year, and the garden is only just beginning to get the attention it needs, but the chives are growing lush and strong.
The knot garden is looking a bit battered – I lost four santolinas, which is a thing I never remember happening before, and I’ve already replaced two rosemary plants, but the big effort this summer is going to be taking cuttings, as insurance against the sort of disaster we had over the winter. I have planted the central triangles with early salad. Only two days later, the slugs have made their presence felt, but I hope that there will be something left for us! I have started plenty of seeds, including more vegetables – beans, welsh onions, cavolo nero and peppers, and some new herbs – anise hyssop and clary sage.
There was a lot of frogspawn, some of which was caught by frost, but you can just see that we have some tadpoles. Last summer very few of them grew up because of the cold and wet, but the weather is more promising – at least so far!
Nesting is in progress, and there is a lot of birdsong. Wrens usually seem rather late to the party compared with great tits, blackbirds and robins, but they are in full voice now, and there is a strong presence from chaffinches and dunnocks. More significant is the snip-snap noise of the chiffchaff, which seems to be the earliest of the summer migrants. There have been sightings of swallows even as close as Edinburgh, but we haven’t seen them yet. I have kept on topping up the bird feeders and we are getting visits from the kind of birds I thought we would only see in winter – reed buntings, yellowhammers, and greenfinches. The sparrows are doing well, and we seem to have a mixed colony of house sparrows and tree sparrows, which is encouraging, as sparrow numbers are causing concern.
The black-backed gull colony came back to find their usual nest site flattened and fenced off, but this didn’t hold them up. For three weeks they established their territories among the rubble, and there seemed to be more of them than ever. And then site investigations started. Now their numbers seem to have halved, but the survivors are occupying chimney pots and harassing the lives out of the buzzards. I’m not convinced that the house martins are going to be any happier when they get back in the next fortnight.