This weekend sees the return of the Big Garden Birdwatch, the annual event organised by the Royal Society of Protection to Birds (RSPB)  to survey our local wildlife.  Now in it’s 36th year this is a countrywide initiative in which half a million people are expected to take part, providing an invaluable picture of how our garden birds are doing and highlighting any problems or trends in population and behaviour.

Blue Tit RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

It’s easy to become involved, all you need to do is register on their website, spend an hour in your garden, allotment or local park making a note of what you see and then give your feedback.

Great Spotted Woodpecker RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

You can of course do this on your own but it’s also a great activity and to do as a family and with this in mind the RSPB have prepared a special pack that can be downloaded from their website once you have registered.  It gives full details of what do including details of how to make some simple bird feeders and fat balls to encourage more birds to visit, pictures to help identification and a sheet to record what you see.  You can even find out how to build a ‘hide’ if you’re really up for some fun.

Starling RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

Blackbird RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

The event is on the 24th and 25th January and you can register and download your pack here.

You will also receive a £5 discount to use in the RSPB shop.

Follow the event on Twitter here the hashtag is #Birdwatch and Facebook here.

 

The photographs in this post were kindly provided by the RSPB – Grahame Madge RSPB Images.

 

The Allotment Pre Plan

If the press are to be believed today is ‘blue Monday’.  On such a glorious day? Really? You’ve got to love a media construct, designed no doubt to make us all feel a little bit worse about things than we should.  So I’m putting it out there that I love January.

DSC_3162

As a gardener it’s the time that I think Winter is firmly on it’s way out and I can start planning properly for the new season, well pre planning that is, because before I start to firm things up I want to consider some principles.

Time – How much time am I prepared to devote to the plot and the particular crops that I grow.

Quality – Some crops will hands down beat anything that might be found in a supermarket. My particular favourites being sweetcorn, broad beans and peas.

Value – In relation to effort, space, time etc. some things just don’t warrant our time.  Things like herbs and flowers that are costly to buy are, however, a very different story.

Space – Less of a consideration for us this year, but I’m still not keen to grow main crop potatoes or onions preferring to give the room over to other things.

So that’s my pre plan and on this very gorgeous day I’d love to hear all about yours.

Butterflies In The Glasshouse

Last weekend waking up to a sunny Sunday morning we decided to abandon our very muddy, waterlogged plot for the day and drive over to RHS Wisley.  I was keen, as ever, to visit the vegetable garden, take some photographs and have a walk.  What we hadn’t factored in was how cold it would be and though I did all the things I wanted to it was barely an hour before I was seeking some warmth.

The Glasshouse RHS Wisley

So with that in mind we headed over to The Glasshouse which houses Wisley’s collection of exotic plants, with dry temperate, moist temperate and tropical zones it features palms, cacti, orchid collections and many other species that we would only normally expect to grow as house plants in the UK.  Whilst these are always a pleasure to see on grand scale in their jungle like setting, on Sunday they played a bit of a supporting role to the stunningly beautiful butterflies that are being introduced in preparation for the annual Butterflies in the Glasshouse exhibition which starts this coming weekend.

The Glasshouse RHS Wisley

The Glasshouse RHS Wisley

If you’re familiar with The Glasshouse you’ll know that it’s always busy, children seem to find it particularly appealing and their squeals of joy can be heard as soon as you enter. On this occasion however they seemed silenced in wonder as the butterflies darted from plant to plant pausing only to visit their feeding stations.  It was just a joy.

The Glasshouse RHS Wisley

The Glasshouse RHS Wisley

The Glasshouse RHS Wisley

The Glasshouse RHS Wisley

Utterly mesmerising to adults and children alike I’ll certainly be making time to visit again.

The butterflies will be in The Glasshouse from the 17th of January until the 8th of March and there is a range of activities and events planned during this time. It’s very popular so you do need to book and all details can be found here.

 

I’m linking this post to Annie’s How Does Your Garden Grow over at her blog mammasaurus.