Thursday, 31 December 2015

Happy New Year from London!

On the list of the most stressful things people do in their life, moving house and staying in hospital come quite high up. I had two hospital stays and moved house and garden, all in the space of 6 months between April and October 2015. I can confirm it really is stressful! I am still not finished in the house, but I finally got kitchen curtains up a week before Christmas, after having been here in my new house for 7 months. The garden will take a lot more time and I have no idea when the last plant will be planted in the ground – it’s just going to take as long as it takes. But I am happy I moved and the new house is much more suitable for me as it is a bungalow so no more stairs to climb and no stairs out to the garden.

My garden has not been much affected by the 6 storms we have had the last 6 weeks here in Britain, I am living in the South- East corner and we are protected against the worst of wind, rain and flooding. The weather has been milder than usual, especially at night, and there has been more rain than usual at times, but that’s all here in London.

The mild weather has made some of my plants rather season confused, this is a pot of oriental lilies, well on their way up – about 4 months early!

And the mice on the mouse plants are usually not seen until April, late March is probably the earliest I have ever seen the flowers in the past.

The lilac is just about to flower. Have you ever seen lilacs in December??

With all this new lush growth going on you should think there would be plenty for birds and animals to go round without them having to raid my plant pots....but no, the squirrels keep attacking my pots and eat whatever they deem edible – and throw on the ground anything not to their taste.

As a peace offering I have therefore started to feed them peanuts, in the hope that a full belly means less damage to my plants and bulbs. I have never seen more than one squirrel here in my new garden so for all I know it could be the same one coming all the time. But the squirrel is not in for a free meal for life, I will do the feeding until the spring bulbs have finished flowering, but that’s it – and if the squirrel brings all its cousins and extended family into my garden I might have to stop the peanut bar sooner than planned!

Taking photos of squirrels is relatively easy since they are not much scared of humans. But I have had a wish of taking photos of some of the smaller birds in my garden and they are not as easy to photograph. Small birds will typically fly away as soon as they detect a movement and they can even see movements through a window. Here in my new house it is better to watch the birds as my living room is facing the garden, but it is still difficult to photograph them as I often scare them away before I even get placed in the right direction, let alone get my camera up.

I decided I really wanted some photos of birds eating on my fatball feeder and I set up my camcorder to record anything and everything until the memory card was full. I just left the camcorder to it – and got 4 hours of two small flies having a feast on the fat balls!! But I did get some bird footage too, a few minutes - and I have finally been able to identify what kind of birds that come visiting here. On my End of Month View movie for December below, there are some glimpse of the birds, from what I have been able to see online I have a pair of Blue tits and a pair of Great tits in my garden. The movie is a mix of video and photos from the year we have behind us, starting in the garden I left and then moving on to the new garden.

For best view, change the settings in the bottom right corner to HD (720p or 1080p) and choose full screen.



The music was Cantique de Jean Racine by Gabriel Fauré.
I am linking today’s post to Helen at The Patient Gardener’s Weblog.

I would like to wish you all a happy New Year and all the best for the new gardening year! Until next time, take care.

50 comments:

  1. It has certainly been an unusual and stressful year for you, but through it all the garden has been a beautiful solace. Happy 2016!

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    1. Thanks Dorothy, happy 2016 to you too!

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  2. I'm glad that the birds have taken to your new garden, they certainly add to the interest. I look forward to watching your garden develop next year.

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    1. Thanks Sue, I am glad this garden seems a bit more suitable for inviting the birds in than my previous garden – I am doing the same things but in my previous garden the birds just didn’t come. It might have been the way the trees were placed, or perhaps the collared doves that lived on the roof, constantly flying down in the garden – who knows. Here it’s not an issue, today I have watched the feeder from my living room and I had 6 birds on it at the same time – typically when I had finished my movie!
      Happy New Year, all the best for 2016!

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  3. Again I enjoyed your beautiful video. The year has been stressful for you but you ended this year with already a lovely garden and wonderful indoor plants. Of course you have lots to plant and so on, but take your time because it is already nice. Also love those squirrels although I know they are a nuissance, we have rabbits and parakeets, haha. Wish you ALL THE BEST FOR 2016 and lots of gardening pleasure!

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    1. Thanks Janneke, glad you liked the video! I have a love/hate relationship with those squirrels – love seeing them playing around in the garden but hate the damage they do. Nothing I can do to prevent them from coming so I better just accept they are here to stay :-)
      Happy New Year and all the best for the 2016 gardening year!

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  4. What a great video as usual Helene...love the shots of the the birds...and those devil squirrels. It was fun to see your garden before the move, and after as the months have gone on....you need a few restful months I think! Happy New Year and here's to a wonderful 2016!

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    1. Thanks Donna, glad you liked the video!
      I would have loved to put my feet up for 3 months and do nothing but since it is possible to do garden work all year round here in London I feel I can’t really leave the garden and do nothing if the weather is good – so I try to go out and do a little every day when it’s possible. That’s how I get things done, little and often :-)

      Happy New Year and all the best for the 2016 gardening year!

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  5. Vakre bilder fra hagen din! Det har vært et år med mange begivenheter for deg, Helene. Håper at 2016 blir roligere. Håper været bedrer seg fremover.

    Godt nytt hageår ønskes deg, og takk for alle hyggelige kommentarer hos meg!

    Nyttårsklem fra Marit

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    1. Takk Marit, jeg håper været blir litt roligere her også snart, men det skal visst vare en stund. Stormen i natt var ille i nord og det er flere stormer i kø ute i Atlanteren. Jeg planlegger et roligere år for 2016 – så får vi se hva det blir, er ikke alltid det hjelper så mye med slike planer!

      Godt nytt hageår til deg også, har vært veldig hyggelig å ha kontakt med deg, spesielt siden du er norsk, har ikke hatt noen norske som har kommentert før, jeg tror alle norske som har lest har trodd de måtte legge igjen kommentar på engelsk så derfor har det vel ikke blitt noe :-)
      Nyttårsklem fra Helene

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  6. mouse plant - what fun!
    Happy New Year

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    1. Yes, the mouse plant is a funny plant, a great talking point! Latin name is Arisarum Proboscideum if you want to get hold of it.
      Happy New Year to you too!

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  7. I enjoyed your video--especially the parts with the birds feasting on the fatball feeder and the cute little squirrel. I'm so glad you're all settled in to a new home that will be easier and more comfortable for you. Plenty of time to get all the plants in the ground! I can't believe you have Lilacs blooming! Wow! Happy New Year!

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    1. Thanks Beth, I can’t believe I have a lilac flowering either! The weather is still mild here, slightly colder at night, but at around 5-8C at night there’s no frost though :-) Happy New Year!

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  8. Dear Helene, hope that in the upcoming year you get to enjoy your new home and garden to the max. I think the layout of your new garden offers more exciting possibilities design-wise than your old, which is wonderful and I am sure you will be taking full advantage of that. You have come already so far! No rush to get the plants into the ground, the way is the goal, just enjoy the process. Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year 2016!
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Thank you Christina, you are right, my new garden has more possibilities than my previous garden – and I took the house because of the garden, not the house – the house is just an ordinary, 1 bedroom bungalow, nothing special. But in terms of gardens here in East London, my garden is a bit bigger than the average, bigger than any of my neighbours, I have had a good look on Google Map so I feel lucky that way - land is expensive in London so gardens tend to be very small! It will take a few years to create a new garden here, but I will eventually get there.
      Wishing you happy New Year and all the best for 2016!

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  9. Trevligt att följa din trädgård året runt. Vackra månadsbilder, och förtjusande fåglar och ekorre. Du har hunnit med en hel del, din trädgård är riktigt fin.
    Ha ett riktigt gott 2016.
    Marika

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    1. Takk Marika, hyggelig å ha bli kjent med deg og godt at du likte filmen min. Jeg har filmet hagen min hver måned i to år – og sporadisk før det, er så glad jeg gjorde det for nå har jeg mange fine filmer fra min gamle hage jeg flyttet fra. Det er en fin måte å følge med på hvordan hagen utvikler seg. Godt Nyttår!

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  10. The past year was very important for you, Helene. Now you live in more comfortable house and have bigger garden. You received this offer when you've been ill and despite of it you could move all you 'many' pots with flowers to new place. It was very hard work and you did it, well done!
    I love your video especially cyclamen, camellia and lilac, they're so vernal. The small bird in the end of video are 'big titmice'. The same birds I feed every weekend in my garden. Happy new year, dear!

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    1. Thank you Nadezda, it has been an eventful year and I am looking forward to a quieter year with relaxing and just working in my garden! Wishing you and your family a happy New Year and all the best for 2016.

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  11. Happy New Year, Helene! I hope, you don't need anymore hospital stays in 2016. It shall be a healthy, flowery and exciting year for you. The photos of the squirrels are very cute. I haven't seen them in my garden for ages... don't know why. Our squirrels are dark brown or red. In my garden the snowdrops and helleborous orientalis have started to flower. All in all the garden looks like it does in March... very strange.
    Have a lovely first day in the year.
    Kind regards
    Alex

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    1. Hello Alex, I am used to seeing red squirrels too from Norway, but here in Britain we have very few left of them and don’t see them very often. That’s because of an invasion of the American grey squirrels – they have a virus which don’t harm them, but are being passed on to the native, red squirrels and make them sick so they die. There are steps taken over here to save the red squirrels, but it will take a long time before red squirrels become common to see again.

      Enjoy the lovely weather while we have it - over here it’s set to last and I hope we don’t get a cold period as that will ruin some of the spring flowers, but you never know, winter is still another 2 months :-) Happy New Year!

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  12. Hope 2016 is a much less eventful than 2015!

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    1. Thank you Roger, I am hoping for a peaceful year I can spend in the garden :-)
      Happy New Year!

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  13. Oh those squirrels! You are too kind to them.
    A very Happy New Year Helene.

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    1. Maybe I am too kind – I am trying to be kind to my spring bulbs!
      And a very happy New Year to you too!

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  14. I hope all the stress is behind you, Helene, and you can dig in (literally!) and enjoy your new garden in 2016! Even in pots, your garden surpasses most. I'll be interested to hear whether your squirrel feeding/diversion strategy works - since the squirrels started raiding my bird feeders (all sold as as "squirrel resistant"), I seem to have more squirrels and, when they can't get into the feeders (as is the case now due to repairs my brother-in-law made), they eat my Gazanias!

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    1. I remember the squirrels from my previous garden – they ate just about anything and were especially fond of camellia and rose shoots in early spring. Terrible for the roses as the delayed the first flush with weeks. Today I had TWO squirrels in my garden, first time I have seen more than one. Perhaps peanuts weren’t so smart after all, but the squirrel is eating on the birdfeeder anyway so I was hoping the peanuts would be a distraction.

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  15. As ever, your photos are brilliant Helene. Love the one of the squirrel leaning over and helping himself (or herself?). For anyone interested, Helene has a great selection of her photos recording the plants in her garden on our site:

    https://www.greenplantswap.co.uk/growers/Helene-U-Taylor

    and a lovely post about the Mouse plant:

    https://www.greenplantswap.co.uk/talk_posts/8-the-sweetest-mice-you-can-have-in-a-garden

    I also just shortlisted Helene's blog in an article about the 'Best gardening blogs'.

    https://www.greenplantswap.co.uk/talk_posts/338-best-of-the-gardening-blogs

    Happy New Year Helene. Do hope 2016 is less stressful ... and do keep up the inspiring work. We love it.

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    1. Thanks Jeremy, I do hope this year will be slightly less eventful! I hope to spend 2016 pottering in my garden and when the weather is too awful (like today) I hope to catch up with work online like the GPS website – I have not forgotten you, just had too much to do!
      Happy New Year to you and Amanda!

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  16. That's a lot in a 6 month time. My plants are confused too. I even saw daylilies blooming today out in middle of a parking lot flower bed.

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    1. It has been a strange winter, but in a way not so unusual for London where I live – more usual perhaps for other parts of the world. I hope 2016 will be a calmer year and less eventful. I just want to spend the year in my garden :-)

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  17. I hope 2016 is an easier year for you. :o) It's been really warm here, too. Love that little mouse plant. What is it's Latin name?

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    1. Thanks Tammy, I also hope 2016 will be slightly less eventful – I just want time to potter around in my garden and possibly unpack the rest of the boxes still in my shed!
      The Latin name for mouse plant is Arisarum proboscideum, it is a lovely little woodland plant which is also great in pots and containers – easier to see the unusual flowers when up from the ground. Slowly spreads without being invasive. You can dig up a few roots and give away or plant in pots when the clump gets too big, but that will take a good few years.

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  18. You certainly had a lot going on in 2015! Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2016! I have enjoyed seeing progress in your garden, and it was fun watching the birds in your video. I have had limited success photographing birds. What success I have had is due to a good zoom lens and a portion of good luck. I have a lot of spring bloomers budding out now, but I hope the current dip in temperature will slow them down a bit. Otherwise, things are likely to be in full bloom just as a deep freeze hits.

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    1. Thanks Debbie, I have a good zoom lens on my wish-list, I am still using just the lens I got with my camera and it’s good for overview photos of the garden, but anything that needs to be closer I have to crop heavily. I also hope we don’t get a period of really cold weather, I have too many spring flowers on their way!

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  19. Happy new year to you saw your pictures of gall mite .
    Very contagious can be spread by touch will also spread to neighbours.
    Best to destroy plants affected being very careful I have been told you can treat with Chicken total mite kill fortunately haven't had this myself yet so haven't tried myself.

    http://www.petsathome.com/shop/en/pets/total-mite-kill-aerosol-250ml

    Best of luck Peter

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    1. Thanks for the tip Peter, I have destroyed all my fuchsias now, all 86 of them! Really sad, but after following a strict spraying regime this spring which didn’t work I just gave up. I have kept my miniature fuchsias as they are not affected, but I don’t know if the mites will be on them and possibly re-infect any new fuchsias I buy. I haven’t been able to find out that from info online. I was planning to wait a year before I get any new fuchsias, but I need to be sure I don’t re-infect them with my healthy (but possibly mite carrying) miniatures. Really unfortunate that my collection got infected as Fuchsia Gall Mite is still rather uncommon.
      Happy New Year and all the best for 2016!

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  20. I'm so impressed with how much you've done in the garden despite the hospitalizations! It was strangely warm here for a long time, but now we are back to snow and ice. Your birds are so pretty! I wish you a happy and healthy 2016!

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    1. Thank you Indie, and happy New Year to you too!
      The mild weather goes on here, I have a gerbera that flowered today, two pretty flowers :-) And my roses are producing new shoots at an astonishing rate so I just have to prune them now, it would be silly to leave it any longer.

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  21. Quite a lot of information about Fuchsias on Facebook
    Fuchsia Friends, Foes, Diseases
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/167016081323/

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  22. What a treat to see all these blooms and greenery in your garden, Helene! We had an unusually warm December which confused some of my plants, too, but January has started off cold and there is nothing at all blooming outdoors. Your little squirrel is so cute, but frustrating, I'm sure--I hope the peanut buffet does the trick. We do not have Blue tits over here; what gorgeous birds! Wishing you all the best in the New Year!

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    1. Thanks Rose, the peanuts for the squirrels is not working well, like Alistair in his reply below I am experiencing the squirrels coming here and burying peanuts in my pots instead of eating them. Not what I wanted!

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  23. Happy New Year Helene and a less stressful one. Great video and lovely shots of the great tits.
    We also started feeding the squirrels peanuts some time back, I often counted six (squirrels, not peanuts) at a time in the garden. No longer feed them as they started making a helluva mess burying peanuts in the borders.

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    1. I have found out the same about the squirrels! They don’t just eat the peanuts, they come here several times a day and run around bury 10-12 nuts every time. Soon there won’t be a single pot where the squirrels haven’t got a packed lunch!

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  24. All the very best to you are yours Helene. 2016 is off to a great start for you down there and I'm sure you'll be on top of all your plans and we will notice a huge difference throughout the year to come. I look forward to seeing everything coming together.

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    1. Thanks Angie, its’ cold here this week, no gardening for me – I bet it is even colder with you, stay warm, spring is not that far away!

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  25. You have been through a lot since we last communicated. I watched the video and your new garden looks lovely. Good luck with the planting and enjoy your new home.

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    1. Thanks Carolyn, leaving my house and garden after 14 years there was a big decision but I just couldn’t cope with the stairs anymore due to my disability. Now I am in a bungalow and have step-free access to the garden so perfect for me – and a slightly bigger garden too, which is a bonus. Starting a new garden is rather daunting but also very exciting, I have done a lot since moving in but there is so much more to do here and work is slow. I am enjoying the process though and have no deadline except I hope I am not watering all those pots another summer!

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