May 2019 – and an absence of cuckoos.

May brought a tremendous change to flowers and trees in both garden and countryside. Worryingly though, things weren’t going so well for  bird life. We didn’t hear a single cuckoo. Swallows, swifts and martins were noticeably absent too. But, to my relief, on the 30th,  we watched house martins collecting mud from a puddle at the car wash at Pontesbury Co-op!

Kingfisher sightings were few too, but mallards produced ducklings and a fully-fledged family of great tits spent a lot of time around the fat-ball feeders in the last days of the month.. Adult goosanders were on the brook from time to time but I’m still waiting for goslings to appear.

We have enjoyed exploring  new locations in Shropshire and revisiting old favourites. One particularly exciting day brought back childhood memories of fields full of cowslips. These lovely flowers were so thick on the ground at Llynclys Common that it was hard to walk between them.

It was also pleasing to find Goldilocks among bluebells and Yellow Archangel at Earl’s Hill.

Hedges round Venus Pool were covered in White Bryony and wild roses and I enjoyed  a close view of a Great Crested Grebe.

Work in the garden progressed but several weeks of my ‘having to be careful’ meant that there was a backlog of weeding, especially of forget-me-nots which have been spectacular but are a pain to remove because their seeds attach themselves to every item of clothing, including socks.

We customised the short stretch 0f larch-lap fence by attaching bamboo canes as support for newly planted honeysuckle and summer jasmine. Hopefully these two climbers will intermingle and add colour and interest to this corner of the garden.

A trip to the delightful Dingle Garden Centre near Welshpool resulted in yet more plants to add to the garden. Erigeron karvinskianus, commonly known as Mexican Fleabane replaced the forget-me-nots in one of the stone troughs and I have high hopes of it seeding itself into all the cracks between the paving. It’s a plant that I have wanted ever since I saw it, about fifty years ago on the walls of Walmer Castle. As far as I’m aware it’s only in the last few years that it has made an appearance in garden centres. Although, while on Islay ,these were not places that I ever frequented, so I could be mistaken.

By the 31st when daughter Ashlyn and family came for her birthday weekend the garden was looking  at its best with Ceanothus bushes  abuzz with bumble bees and damsel flies on Yellow Flag in the river garden.

The ‘meadow’, our tiny area of lawn which we seeded with green hay last year is so impressive that we think we will extend the area to the main lawn. The Yellow Rattle has been amazingly successful, once again reminding us of the meadows of our childhood.

We have finally been allowed to fence the river garden although the gate mustn’t be locked as we have to allow access to the bridleway which was the only means of crossing the brook in years gone by. For about fifty years a footbridge has made the bridleway obsolete but, as it is still recorded in legal documents, it has to remain. In practical terms this is nonsensical as the footpath officer agreed that the route which crosses the brook is unsafe. Furthermore, many years ago, the farmer who owns the opposite bank obstructed the continuation of the route by  erecting barbed wire fences and padlocking the gate The bridleway only crosses a narrow area  of our land but the gate inevitably allows access to our main river garden and we have had incidences of people fishing and leaving litter.

For us, it’s  a place for encouraging wildlife and that includes leaving the fish for kingfishers and goosanders even though we own the fishing rights. We will continue to introduce more examples of native flora by collecting and scattering local seed. Hopefully, very few people will find it necessary to tramp, along with unleashed dogs,  through an area, which is essentially a nature reserve.