I've had a blog absence caused by summer finally arriving. The garden is just too magical to resist. After all the rain and extended cold weather there is a lot to do outside.
When we moved to the cottage there was an ugly but functional pond at the back of the garden. It had a cement brick border and no plants around it. What had once been the lawn had been covered with black plastic and then piles of pebbles. No doubt the previous owner liked the beach, but this was more like a desert. There was a small border, overgrown with ivy, and brick planters had been built all around the whole back. No shade for wildlife to hide and live.
|The old pond, in the desert.|
We were surprised that despite this inhospitable environment there was life. Before the pond began to cave in we discovered two species of Newt and several common Frogs. We decided that eventually we would build them a new home and in the meantime we moved them to a safe place where they could hide and hibernate under some large stones. The cottage needs as much work as the garden and so the Newts and Frogs have had to wait. until now.
|The beginning of a new pond.|
It is a work in progress but as soon as we had the liner down and water in the Newts reappeared.
|The bright and dark 'Jewel Garden'|
Nature never ceases to amaze and delight me. Suddenly the garden which only a few weeks ago was dead stem is lush green and dark moody bloom, full of buzzing.
|Mrs House Martin sitting on her eggs.|
Our cottage is very simple, nothing grand. But it has charm not just to us, but for the House Martins who have nested here every year since Victorian times. Those raised in the nests on the cottage return from their long and perilous journeys from South Africa in April and build new nests around the village. This year we saw a few, then a storm raged and they disappeared, then a few returned. One nest on our cottage remained empty and a source of constant sorrow for me. It had been built two summers ago, by a House Martin who had fledged from our cottage. Last summer she and a mate raised a brood there which were only ready to fledge in October. We worried that the dangerous journey they make may have come too late and they and their small offspring had perished.
The first week of June we heard excited chirping and there they were! A flock of both House Martins and Swallows had returned and joined the earlier arrivals in excited flying and talking. There are now a few new nests on the side of our cottages. The Swifts returned this Spring to their homes in the church, but sadly only a few. Numbers are really down. Last summer was disastrous for them and they returned to South Africa having been unable to raise any young due to the torrential rain. If this glorious weather continues this summer might be a good one for them.
|A Poppy seed head. A perfect work of art, by Nature.|