For the first time in several weeks, there is no wind. (Hooray!!!) It’s a beautiful, partly overcast day with a very light breeze. Every time the sun comes out from behind a cloud I’m reminded of how hot it will soon become – it’s currently sitting at about 21C in the shade.
I was in the vege garden on Friday when quite by accident I came across something especially evocative of Spring.
We have a small (but very bushy) Bay tree situated within the fenced off (that is, hen-free) section of our garden. I had gone there to collect a few good-sized bay leaves for a batch of fagioli I was preparing.
I parted the top leaves looking for some decent leaves and was surprised to discover a nest complete with four tiny chicks.
We’ve been watching the black bird pair all year. We think they are most likely the same two that built a nest in the right-hand section of the barn last spring. The hen, in particular, is very plucky and will fly down beside me when I’m weeding in the vegetable garden – usually to pull out worms or scratch around where I’ve been weeding. For some time we’ve been wondering where their nest might be. It seems so obvious now!
The parents don’t seem to mind us peering in – earlier today when I checked to see if the babies were okay, I saw four bright-eyed little faces peering back at me. Mum and Dad were watching from the branches of the plum tree, above. The chicks are very quiet, which is just as well, as our cat Molly could easily knock the nest out of the tree. I’m sure she’d love to munch on some tender young chicks!
On Saturday, Ben found another nest on a shelf in the ‘man cave’ section of the barn; but all that was inside were broken blue pieces of shell. It’s hard to know if any chicks ever hatched, or (and this seems more likely) a rat got them. The amusing thing about the second nest is that the parents had woven some red and black plastic-coated leads (still attached to a small battery charger) into the base. It was very well-constructed – they’d put down a base of mud, then built up the sides with twigs and stalks. The inside was a perfectly formed circle, made with delicate pieces of dried grass. I’m always impressed at how beautifully these nest are made.
The new flower spike on our Banana (Banana Mons Mari) is already developing fruit. Earlier today, I spent twenty minutes or so cutting away some of the old and battered growth from the plant. The howling winds I’ve been complaining about really wreak damage on the leaves, but the plant itself is surprisingly resilient.
The vege garden is coming along nicely. The broad beans survived the wind – thanks to some stakes and string.
The peas are forming pods.
And I’ve had a good strike rate with the edamame, rocket and lettuce I sowed a couple of weeks ago. Thank goodness!!
The early potatoes (Cliff’s Kidney) have needed earthing up a couple of times and are looking very vigorous. The asparagus patch is producing fat shoots each day, so we are eating them as they appear.
The passion fruit is in good shape after my fairly brutal pruning. It’s started to flower and their are many, many unopened buds on the vines.
To finish, I just had to include a photo of this spectacular bromeliad, Vriesea hieroglyphica, as it’s flourishing at the moment. It’s growing in the sunnier of the two gardens we have devoted to plants from the family Bromeliaceae.
This time of the year all our bromeliads are putting on new growth and developing ‘pups’. We’re hoping to establish some of the varieties more suited to the purpose, in some of our larger trees – many grow as epiphytes in their natural environment.