Derek – Wednesday 5th February 2020

It’s a bright winter’s day, 7°C, a little chilly, but the sunlight brightens the spirit. It has been a mild winter and our first daffodils are in bloom in an apple tree tub at the rear of the garden. Other daffs are close to flowering, and we’ll have quite a few blooms by the weekend. Next week, we can call in Wordsworth.

The building works are kissing close, now they’ve started work just across the dividing fence, made all the more visible because the trees are bare. Once the buildings go up, they will be virtually overlooking us, just a few feet away. I wonder how we are going to be separated as the trees making the boundary will be cut down. I presume they’ll put in a fence. Negotiations are taking place.

The pond is full, and appears quite lifeless. Any animal life is dormant, and water plants will need sustained warmth for growth. Will we get any frog spawn this year? Last year, we had some. It depends how many frogs have survived. There’s always a mass slaughter of frogs over the summer months. To begin with they are tiny, and easy prey for birds. Sustained hot weather will kill them, as will all the strimming and mowing. They need to survive three years to be mature enough to breed. In a month or so, we’ll find out whether any have come back.

Near the middle gate, we have marigolds, orange and bright. I am sure with this unseasonable warmth they don’t know what they are supposed to do. Acanthus near the buddleia is shiny green, like it has a coat of gloss paint. Nearby a Viburnum tinus is in bloom, with clusters of tiny white flowers, always a reliable winter flowering shrub.

Under the birch, by the stage, we have pigsqueak (Bergenia cordifolia) in a glory of purple flowers. Early of course. It’s called pigsqueak as the leaves squeak if you squeeze them between finger and thumb. In the same bed, white hellebores are in flower.

The bird seed in our feeders is going quickly. Although still winter, we are getting close to the season for mating and nest building. Though the unseasonable warmth might cause some birds to mate too early, and then be hit by a hard frost.

I hear a lively bird in the sycamore by the middle gate. I search for it, the bird is in full song. And spot it, and see that the bird is a chaffinch; a small bird, pink, white and black. Too high up for a picture, but a bright song for a sunny day.

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