A reader asked me the other day how my garden was progressing – and the answer is ‘a little slower than before’.
The weather this week really hasn’t leant itself well to gardening and has stopped my unbroken run of being out there every day doing a little bit of something. However I still managed 9 in a row before taking a break. Today I’ve been out there pruning for a couple of hours, but the twin scourges of rain and backache have made me retreat indoors again for the time being.
Since I began working to return my back garden to a usable state I’ve taken 42 bags of finely chopped clippings to the tip (along with PACKING my huge green recycling bin twice) and after today have another 7 bags ready to go by the back door.
Doing it all manually has honestly become something of a grind though.
I’m still enjoying the process of tidying everything up – but there’s little fun to be had in chopping big sticks into smaller sticks over and over again to fit them into refuse sacks.
Cutting a branch off is the easy bit – preparing it for transportation is a complete ball-ache. It’s all coming on though, and I have a sense of satisfaction when I see yet another sack join its comrades for the short journey to oblivion.
On the plus side I haven’t needed my dumbbells at all since I started. Everything is firming up nicely in the arm department and I’m no longer suffering with any aches and pains related to what I’m doing (other than my back).
For those with terminally short memories this is what it looked like before.
And this is what it currently looks like today.
The reason that there’s a huge clump on the left is that’s where the bird’s nest is sitting. It looks irritatingly messy I know – but there are worse things in life so I’m just working my way up towards the shed instead of the house.
There’s also a part of me that thinks I kind of deserve to chop it all up by hand after letting it get so far out of control in the first place. Maybe if I do this I’ll remember more acutely the huge hassle it’s left me with and do a little bit here and there in the garden more regularly.
Another (lazier) part of my personality wants to go ‘all industrial’ on the foliage and just buy a chainsaw plus a shredder to get rid of it. However with the nearby blackbird nest already teetering on oblivion I daren’t use any power tools. The poor little girl is clinging onto her eggs with barely any cover now despite the wind and rain – and if I drive her away with electricity and noise I’ll never forgive myself.
My new camera does a much better job of showing how she’s being bounced around in the wind – which really worries me. I’d have barfed multiple times if I was her (It must be like being on a ferry) but I guess if any creature can cope with a breeze then it’s a bird…
She doesn’t seem to be leaving the nest at all lately – which I hope means that the eggs aren’t too far away from hatching. According to the RSPB site (link) they are probably on track for a week or so from now, with a period of feeding and nurturing for a couple of weeks afterwards (if they survive). The chicks will need the cover of the remaining bush if they’re to stand a chance at life:
‘The female incubates alone, and the chicks hatch 13-14 days later. Only the female broods the chicks, but both parents feed them. Chicks in gardens are fed on earthworms when they are available; woodland chicks are fed mainly on caterpillars. (…) The chicks are ready to fledge at 13-14 days, but if the nest is disturbed, they can leave and survive as early as nine days old. This ability to fledge early is an important anti-predator adaptation. The young birds creep and flutter from the nest, and remain in nearby cover for the following few days. They are flightless at first, but within a week will have learned to fly.’
I’d been wondering where the male blackbird had gone – as I’ve not seen him at all for a few days. I realised this afternoon though that he was nearby all the time.
VERY nearby as it happens.
He’s been watching from afar on the chimney pot and has been singing away to his mate below for ages while I’ve been working. I think I captured it in the video – but there’s a lot of wind noise too…
So dear internet – the garden is still taking shape – minus any changes around their home.