Springwatch. Chez duck.

 

The bunnies are back. With a vengeance.

And this year they’ve brought in an army. It’s difficult to know where to turn right now, given that it’s impractical and unaffordable to fence the entire plot. Or even a part of it. I created the garden to blend seemlessly into the woodland after all. But I swear there were rabbits of Jurassic Park proportions grazing the lawn last night. No doubt a deliberate ploy to distract attention from their offspring as the babies simultaneously wreak havoc in the terraces. It’s just not playing fair.

 
 

 

Wire mesh cages proliferate almost as fast as the bunnies.

Mike has gone into full scale production mode and still can’t keep up. Even if he could it’s hardly aesthetically pleasing is it. But given the cost of plants, the time and effort spent nurturing them quite apart from any capital outlay, anything new to the garden starts life in a cage. At least until it has toughened up sufficiently to lose some of its tender-leaved appeal.

You’d think the combination of cold winter and subsequent dry weather would have taken its toll of the mollusc population. But no, not a bit of it. I’ve grasped the opportunity to scatter organic slug pellets liberally under the protection of the cages. Yet it seems even they are losing their effectiveness. Yesterday I found a Phlomis tuberosa ‘Amazone’ comprehensively nibbled with the surrounding little blue pellets left untouched. I shall have to dig up the phlomis and give it a spell in intensive care.

 
 

Chaenomeles

 

Chaenomeles NoID

It continues to be such a very odd Spring. After the delayed start we have plants blooming which would normally be long finished by now, such as the flowering quince above. It has led to some arresting combinations. The vibrant red azalea from a recent post reached its peak so late that it found itself competing with a tango orange neighbour. In a ‘normal’ season they’d have given us a couple of weeks at least betwixt and between. I remember saying when I moved the red one, a few years ago now, that if they ever bloomed together it would set my teeth on edge. I was right.

 
 
 
Camellia x williamsii 'ETR Carlyon'
 

Camellia x williamsii ‘ETR Carlyon’

This does tend to be a late variety in any event. But it’s nearly June for heavens’ sake..

 
 

Phlomis russeliana

 

Phlomis russeliana doesn’t seem troubled by anything

Light blue touch paper..

 
 

Athyrium otophorum var.okanum

 

Athyrium otophorum var. okanum

I have taken to picking up the camera for the early morning tour of inspection. I don’t know why I haven’t done it before. The quality of the light is so much better at that time of day. As is increasingly becoming the case it is the woodland where I find myself lingering. Most of the ferns have unwrapped themselves now but I caught this one still in the act. It was a fleeting moment. The following day the delicate tips with their tints of red had been replaced by fully mature fronds.

 
 

Acer palmatum dissectum 'Garnet'

 

Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Garnet’

Even more fleeting, one of the first rays of sunlight to penetrate the tree canopy falling on the leaves of the acer. By the time I’d shifted position for an alternative shot the light had moved and the fiery effect was gone.

 
 

 

In front of ‘Garnet’ the freckles of Digitalis ‘Camelot Cream’ echo the colour of the acer’s leaves, deep purple now at the other end of the day.

 

Earlier in the month we had the wild cam out again. I’d set it up intending to find out what was munching Acer ‘Garnet’. Yes, it was a rabbit. One of the branches hung to just within browsing range. Or at least, it did. But what we caught as well was far more interesting than a rabbit..
 
 
 

 

What do you reckon. Was it a worm? Or even a mouse?

 

The last couple of weeks have been mostly about weeding. I’ve been scrambling to meet a deadline, of which more anon, but while that may suck up a shed load of time it doesn’t provide the most scintillating of copy for a blog. All good stuff for Consolidation Year and great progress has been made. But even the most methodical of gardeners (who, where?) needs a little creative stimulation now and then.

 
 

 

The photo was taken from the level below the lawn. Close enough to the river to make a glance over the shoulder before stepping backward highly advisable. It’s also looking suspiciously like a new project is it not? And didn’t I say there wouldn’t be any of those this year? In my defence, it was Mike who started this one.

It’s more of a challenge than it looks. Aside from the chunks of trunk left over from the 40 foot beech trees which previously resided here, casually cast over the edge by the tree surgeons, there are self seeded saplings and Lonicera nitida run amok. It won’t be long before they grow tall enough to restrict the view of the river we worked so hard to gain. My plan is to put ornamental grasses in here, the sort that will readily self seed and rapidly colonise the slope but which won’t grow too tall with little in the way of maintenance required. The slope is steep. Perhaps one of the steepest yet. But first it needs to be cleared.

We were doing so well. And then we heard them. High pitched chirps of alarm coming from somewhere deep within the undergrowth. As I watched an adult Marsh (or Willow) Tit emerged from the shrubbery and another entered with food in its beak. The two types of tit are difficult to tell apart but both are on the conservation red list.

 
 

 

Marsh Tit. I think.

So there you go mate. Food, shelter and a protected nest site. I’ll just go back to the weeding then shall I?

 
 

Linking to Sarah’s Through The Garden Gate (here) and Helen’s End of Month View (here) where colour is bursting out all over!