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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Another year ahead!

We've been in this house and been tending this garden for just over a year now.  At first I thought I would never settle, but at last I feel at home and love the garden every bit as much as our previous one.  Not that I've done much in it for the past month or so - I've been preoccupied with homeschooling the daughter and my own literature study.  However, I'm putting all my faith in the Winter fairies, knowing that the garden will bloom resplendent come the Spring.  Already there are the tips of daffodils and various other Spring flowers poking their way through the soil.  I love this time of the year, when it's still cold and bleak yet the first signs of growth and Springtime can be seen.

Speaking of fairies, the harsh weather can give the garden a battering so one of my projects for the coming months will be to make it prettier and more comfortable for my little helpers. The above picture and the one below, are examples I found by googling, of what I would like to do in my own garden.  Sweet, aren't they.

 I've pretty much got the design of the garden how we want it, but there is still some work to be done.  I'm going to plant a couple of rambling roses.  One will be rosa New Dawn (pictured below) and I've yet to decide on the other.  There are so many fabulous ramblers and climbing roses on offer.  My other tasks will be to make the garden even more wildlife friendly than it is now and I'd like to plant more fruit bushes.

The beginning of 2011 in our new garden was pretty grim, because of the flooding we had, but it all came together.  The highlight for me was being blessed with little Jack's company.  Hubby and I still think about him often and hope that he fared well over the Winter.

I'm so looking forward to the coming gardening season. 

Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tribute to Charlie

Charlie (left) and Meg, who I used to dogsit

After I had a break from blogging, I didn't want one of my first posts on my return to be a sad one.  Now I feel the time is right to post about our Charlie.   On Tuesday, 24th May he passed on.  That day began as a normal day in our household.  There were no signs to let us know that things were about to change.  The dogs carried on with their usual routine, Charlie included.  Tea-time came, hubby filled the dogs' dinner bowls.  Bob stayed on his bed in the corner like the old gentleman that he is, Benji's nose sniffed the air and his tail wagged with pleasure while Charlie dashed around excitedly like the clown that he was.  Hubby had no sooner put the bowls down when Charlie let out a howl and flipped over on to the floor.  We rushed to him.  He lay very still.  I immediately telephoned the vet, while hubby comforted Charlie..... but there was no time to do anything else for him.  Within minutes he had gone.  Speaking to the vet later, she told us it sounded like he had a seizure.  In some ways, we're glad that he didn't have a long illness and didn't appear to have suffered at all...... he was his usual self right to the end.  In another way, it was difficult for us to accept the suddenness of his going.  We weren't prepared at all and kept saying we couldn't understand or believe that it had happened.  We've accepted it now though.  Charlie was nearly 16 years old; he had a long and happy life and it comforts me that I can still still feel the essence of him all around our home. 

I found this lovely story at Simply Me's blog.  Permission granted, I'm re-posting it as a tribute to our Charlie.

Dog's Purpose from a 6 year old  

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.
Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ''I know why.''

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.

He said,''People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?''
The Six-year-old continued,''Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long.''
Live simply.

Love generously.

Care deeply.

Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
Take naps.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently. 

I daresay we all have our own doggy lessons we could add to this list. :)

Thank you Charlie for your companionship and all the funny things you did that made us laugh.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

More wildlife in the greenhouse.....

Once Jack had vacated the greenhouse, I got down to some serious potting on.  I picked up this pot, which had been lying on its side, to find a beautiful baby toad inside..... all grubby brown from probably burying himself in the dirt and with gorgeous bronze-tinted rings round his eyes.  It made my day to see him because there were lots of frogs and toads in our previous garden, and we hadn't seen any at this one..... until this little fella turned up. 

Yeah I know you're not daft..... but....

To give you an idea of what size he is, the circumference of the pot (at the lowest point) is 6 inches (15 cm) and the diameter is just 2 inches (5 cm).  I would compare him to the size of a peach stone!  I put the pot carefully back, so he could settle down again.  I'm not surprised he likes it in our greenhouse, as I'm always finding snails and slugs on the pots..... and it's not watertight either so there's always an air of dampness.  It's a wonder I get any plants to grow in there at all. 

The almost-empty bag of compost the pot is sitting on, is one I brought in from the patio.  As you can see, it's sodden wet after being left out in the rain for days.  There's also the remains of straw that had been in the pot that Jack used to shelter in overnight.   I never have been a tidy gardener, just the way the wildlife and I like it.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Jack's gone 'home'.

 I feel like I should be setting off fireworks to celebrate what I thought would be a momentous occasion, but it all went off very smoothly and with little fuss.  Last night, during the early evening, I told hubby that I thought Jack would progress much quicker without the confines of the greenhouse.  Most of his time was spent getting excited when he saw the other birds, and trying to figure out a way to get to them.  As Jack was fluttering about and knocking himself against the sides of the greenhouse, hubby agreed with me.  For a couple of days, I had been feeling as if we were keeping Jack a prisoner, instead of caring for him..... especially as he was now feeding himself.  So, as it was still light and a pleasantly warm evening, we opened the greenhouse doors and went off to watch the second episode of Corrie.  After the programme had finished, we looked in the greenhouse and there was no sign of  him.  Well, that's it..... he had gone.  I sent a little prayer out into the universe for him and went on to think of the highly charged and emotional words that I would put together for this farewell post.

Funny Bird

I went to bed quietly confident that we had done the right thing........ only to be awakened by hubby excitedly running up the stairs at around 6 a.m.

"He's still in the greenhouse!"

Jack had just settled himself down, in a well-hidden place and hadn't left at all.  However, we left the doors open thinking that, now it was daytime and he was alert, he was bound to make a bid for freedom.  Wrong.  All he did was continue to peck seeds and chase off any other sparrows that dared to venture past the doorway!  We watched him for what seemed like hours and, not once, did he attempt to step outside.

I decided that he needed a little encouragement, so I went into the greenhouse and quietly began to tidy up and move some plants around.  Jack didn't like this as he now saw me as a threat.  After a while of dodging me, it wasn't long until he snuck out the door and round the side of the greenhouse.  I smiled and thought, "Yay, he's free."  I continued to potter about while discreetly watching to see what he would do.  Realising that he was in the open air, he paused momentarily and looked up at me with what I intrepreted as a bewildered look.

Then he hopped off into the hedgerow.  I went indoors for a cup of tea and came out to the greenhouse later to do some badly-needed potting on.  Lo and behold, there was Jack having a dustbath in the soil under the hedge.  As I worked, I watched him with the other sparrows, pecking up seed and crumbs of bread.  So much for his infant diet of cat food, seed, baby dinner and suet pellets!  He's attached himself to a group of sparrows that shelter in the leylandii hedge at the back of the garden and they don't seem to have any objections. 

I'll leave the doors of the greenhouse open tonight...... just in case he needs a warm place to lay his little head, but I somehow don't think he will take me up on the offer.  Now that he's in the big wide world, there's no going back.

Rock on little Jack Sparrow!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Flora ......... and, er, um.... little Jack.

 Frilly Blackcurrant Poppies

 Crocosmia 'Lucifer' ~ the wasp, whose bottom you can see, was sitting on my hand as I took the previous photo :O)

 Young, fresh nasturtium leaves and buds ready to burst into flower ~ This is Nasturtium 'Alaska' with its distinctive mottled/variegated leaves

 The Strawberry Patch ~ the little blue pansy grew there all by itself ~ the photo can't convey the wonderful sound of buzzing bees and hornets

A Nasturtium flower at close quarters ~ art at work in nature

........ and this is the one you've all been waiting for.  Come on, admit it!  Here's the little boy himself, only not so little now.  A few days ago, his wildness was becoming more evident and he refused to let me feed him.  He's now feeding himself all the time.  I've transferred him to the greenhouse where he can have some space to grow stronger and exercise his wings until he is able to fly off in safety.  Don't worry, I've got the windows open so he doesn't cook! The windows are closed at night to protect him from cats.  Jack's safe in there for now, but he avidly watches the comings and goings of the other sparrows and cheeps excitedly when he sees them.  I'm glad to say that my earlier worry about him becoming imprinted on me is now forgotten, as his natural instincts are developing daily.  I am absolutely amazed at the difference in him now since a couple of weeks ago when he toppled from his nest.  I'm looking forward to the day when I can take a photograph of him sitting on the fence with all the other sparrows.  Way to go Jack!