Monday, 2 February 2015


Like most people the garden appears dead to me in winter. I pass through it to get to my car parked in the drive, and ignore the autumn detritus of dead sticks and fallen leaves, but snowdrops have begun to flower and I decided to clear some of the debris so that we could enjoy them from the house and from the garden path.  I thought the snowdrop was a British native, but apparently it was introduced in the sixteenth century from continental Europe. 

I discovered, during my labours, that the garden is not dead in winter after all. The fallen leaves had provided a home for large numbers of seven spot ladybirds, and I even discovered a wasp. I would have expected wasps to overwinter in outbuildings, the bug hotels, which appear to have become fashionable, or hide in piles of logs, so you learn something new every day.

In a conifer, which I bought as a dwarf conifer but which is dwarf no more, I noticed movement. On investigation I discovered a goldcrest, I watched it from barely two feet away as it searched for something to eat, while totally ignoring my presence. The goldcrest is the smallest of European birds. It breeds in coniferous woodland and gardens. Birds from the north and east of its breeding range migrate to winter further south and the odd one ends up in my garden. 

While I was working a flock of redwing's invaded my holly bush, well it's more of a tree now, and stripped it  its berries within a matter of minutes. The name redwing derives from the birds red underwing which is more noticeable when it flies. It breeds in Iceland, Scandinavia, the Baltic States, northern Poland, Belarus, and through most of Russia. Being migratory it arrives on our shores in large flocks, during harsh winters, to strip my holly bush, which looked magnificent over Christmas..

As I cleared away the debris I noticed a pile of leaves in the corner of the garden, and on inspection discovered a hibernating hedgehog. Last year I found a nest of five baby hedgehogs in almost the same spot. As winter was fast approaching, and as they had nowhere near reached the required weight to enable hibernation, I arranged for a rescue centre to house them  for the winter months. I once tried to overwinter one in a spare bedroom but it kept us awake at night pitter-pattering around on the bare floorboards. If you open your eyes the garden is far from dead in the winter.


  1. Lovely article.

    Love the background of your blog (the same as mine. I didn't think anyone else had it. LOL) Shows great taste.

    I agree whole heartedly. I want--long for--dream of the coming of Spring.
    Have you thought of publishing your article on The Nature Place? Shirley Flannagan, publisher. I've published a few articles on there, mostly about horses. This article would be ideally suited for her site. and she's on Facebook at "The Nature Place."

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  4. Thanks Patricia, I'll give The Nature Place a look.