Looking forward, and back

New Year’s Eve is a good time to take stock and think about what’s been done, and what is still to come. It’s been an interesting year for us, garden-wise (and house-wise), and we’ve worked hard and seen good results. We started with slightly underwhelming gardens and turned them into something much better, but there’s still a lot to do.

I’m pleased with the amount of life and colour we have brought to the new house and garden, where before it was a little dull. The garden has been a magnet for all kinds of insect life, expected and unexpected – in October we found that the ivy on the back of the house was alive with bees and I have since discovered that there is a particular species which feeds on ivy flowers, and which has moved to British shores in recent years. We had lots of bumble bees, and a colony of tiny bees living under the patio. Some ladybirds, though not as many as I would have liked. Many butterflies, though the downside to that was the caterpillars who devoured the nasturtiums! And a rhinoceros beetle, which I had to take to the internet to identify.

One lovely evening, sitting on the patio with friends, we were joined by several bats wheeling about overhead. We found a newt hunting around in a pile of old wood. There’s a squirrel about – we regularly see him running across the fence at the bottom of the garden and scaling the lime tree. We heard and saw blackbirds and thrushes throughout the summer and were visited by blue tits and a cheeky robin. We bought a bird feeding station and set it up with high hopes, but it took time to come into its own. We did see some birds on it in November, but then it was neglected again until the last week or so. Breakfast times have been enlivened by the antics of blue tits, starlings and (just today) that cheeky robin. In a way I’m glad they haven’t needed the food until now, as that means they are still finding plenty elsewhere.

So for next year, we can build on what we have started. The fence on one side still needs fixing and we hope to tackle that in the spring. I’m going to have a go at growing more veg in containers – potatoes in sacks on the patio, maybe some carrots in pots – to add to the tomatoes. We will always be aiming for more variety and to keep some colour all year round – though I have to say it’s not looking too bad just now. We have pansies, violas, polyanths and cyclamen flowering away. Even the geraniums in pots are still holding on and producing new flowers – an indication of just how mild it’s been.

A lot to look forward to in 2014. Happy New Year!

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