Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Wildlife

A Visit From The Local Fox And A Lucky Escape

Since my last post about the Silkies there have been a few developments. On the 14th of May Scarlett, the tiniest of the Silkie bantams, decided at last to sit on her eggs. Having decided that she was in earnest  this time I duly put Day 1 on my calendar. That very same night we had a visit from the local fox and the sight that greeted me the next morning was devastating. The group are housed in a double hutch which is inside a shed. The hutch was ransacked, the roof of it on the floor, the chickens traumatised but luckily still alive. After I had collected myself together, Laura and myself emptied everything out of the shed into the garden fully expecting bad news about the eggs. However, Scarlett was clinging steadfastly on to all but one of her eggs. We were very lucky that all the fox had got away with was ten eggs that Mai had gathered together. Oscar, my brave cockerel, looked as though he had done battle for his girls and won.

The situation today, 26th May,  is that Scarlett is on day 14 , Mai is on day 2 and Snowflake, one of my Pekins is also sitting on six Silkie eggs after she went broody with a vengeance on 22nd.  I think the total count to date is 22 fertile eggs under three broodies.  Oscar is doing a sterling job of looking after his girls and all of my fears about having a cockerel in the garden have disappeared. He is not noisy, as gentle as can be and so handsome that he can do no wrong in my eyes.

The Pond! At Last

We finally managed to get the old plastic pre formed  pond liner out and replace it with a heavy duty flexible liner and an under liner to protect it from any sharp stones. Rob did a good job of first lining the shape with sand too. It looks much better now and I have planted it up with the Lobelia Cardinalis Queen Victoria for now. I have also dotted a few creeping phlox and other low plants around plus planting a few Iris Riculata bulbs which I hope will survive the squirrels and the chickens and give us a bit of colour come next spring. Update –  22nd April 2018 – Although the Iris were few and far between this Spring, the creeping phlox are a great success and I have added Sedum and Aubretia this year.

 

Laura gathered a few seeds of Golden Eye Grass when we were in Devon at the end of September. This plant is said to be happy in a rockery and around a pond so I have just sown the seeds into the garden in the hope of raising a few plants. Update 22nd April 2018 – No sign of this grass yet so I have sown 24 seeds into a module for another try. Golden Eye Grass – Sisyrinchium californicum is a rhizomatous perennial herb producing a pale green stem which grows up to about 60 cm. The flat, narrow leaves are grass like. The flower has six tepals. They are bright yellow with brown veining. 

Sisyrinchium californicum, Golden Eye Grass produces a small clump of grass like foliage with a yellow star shaped flower. Usually this six petaled yellow flower blooms from April until the end of July. Its not actually in the grass family but is a member of the iris family. It grows well in rock gardens, cottage gardens, at the front of borders and along pathways.  It will naturalise and look good with other low-growing ground cover plants like creeping thyme or sedum.

Saxifrage Touran White – A new addition to the area around the pond. A beautiful plant which I love and so, unfortunately, do the new Silkie chickens. Saxifraga x arendsii ‘Touran White saxifrage is a low-growing evergreen perennial forming a neat cushion of green leaves topped in mid and late spring by masses of pure white flowers with bright yellow centres. 

By next Spring we should have a few more plants that can be placed around the pond. On the whole I am very happy with it and my hope is that it will attract wild life like frogs and newts into the garden.

Pond Update – 7th June 2018 – The pond is now well established and I have added a few oxygenating plants including duckweed that floats on the top. We had no luck with attracting any frogs so I have been given a couple of gifts of frog spawn and tadpoles to give it a kick start.

Pond Update –  22nd June 2018 – We have frogs!!!!!

 

Eyjafjallajokull

Wednesday, April 14 – After weeks of reduced activity, Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland erupted beneath its glacier ice cap, which by midmorning was spewing out a substantial stream of steam and ash. By midday the surrounding rivers had risen by 10 ft and a plume of ash had risen through the air to four miles in the sky. Guardian.

Here in my small world I have seen some beautiful dry days and signs of Spring everywhere. However 20,000 feet up the UK is covered by the volcanic ash cloud that has drifted over from Iceland. Down at the allotment the only things flying in the sky are the pair of buzzards that often glide and screech overhead as we are working. There have been no planes in the sky at all for about a week as flying conditions are dangerous in the ash cloud.  The small birds are oblivious to the dangers and are busy nest building and hopping about to catch the worms that we disturb when we are digging.

 

 

Common Buzzard – image from charlies bird blog hope he doesn’t mind

Monday 19th April – Gordon Brown announces that a Royal Navy Task Force of three warships, including the flagship of the fleet, HMS Ark Royal, will be dispatched to fetch some of the 150,000 British travellers stranded overseas. Telegraph

“Farmers in South Iceland are experiencing significant difficulties as a result of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption. There are great quantities of volcanic material in the atmosphere and ash deposits on the ground. There is also a risk of lowland flooding due to the volcanic activity being under the glacier.” – The Farmers Association of Iceland.

I feel so sorry for the Icelanders who are having to deal with this disaster while our governments seem to be more concerned by airport closures etc.

Abutilon Bella Mix – Scented Roses

abutilon bella mixToday I am sowing seeds of Abutilon, bought from Lidl. Abutilon Bella Mixed F1 Hybrid. A half hardy perennial that grows to about 16″. Bella Mix gives a selection of pastel colours blooming continuously. Sow February to April in pots of moist seed compost and cover with a fine sprinkling of compost or vermiculite. Place in a propagator or warm place and keep at a constant temperature of between 20-25. Do not exclude light as this helps germination. Keep the surface of the compost moist. Germination will usually takes 21-30 days. When large enough to handle transplant seedlings into 3″ pots. Harden off before planting out after all risk of frost.

 

greenfinchThere was a beautiful greenfinch hanging in the top branches of the Silver Birch tree this afternoon. With the sun shining behind him he looked almost lime green with a darkish tail. He was singing away, the most lovely song, even though the wind was waving the uppermost branch about so much. We have been told to expect snow in the next few days so I hope he has a warm nest to go home to. http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/g/greenfinch/index.asp

 

Burgandy IceRosa Caring For YouThe bare root roses that I ordered from Harkness have been delivered today. The Roses are Rosa Burgundy Ice, a scented Floribunda. Rosa Caring for You, a pale pink Hybrid Tea. Rosa City of London, a deep pink scented Floribunda. Rosa Compassion, a climbing rose with a strong heady scent. Rosa Belmonte, a perfumed pearly blush bedding rose sold on behalf of the Prince’s Trust. Rosa Helen Robinson, a deep pink Hybrid Tea. Rosa Susan Daniel, a translucent apricot blush Floribunda. http://www.roses.co.uk/acatalog/section_hybridteas.html

 

Garden Birds Brighten up A Grey Day

It’s grey, foggy and cold outside this morning so, after making sure that all the pets are fed and comfortable, to cheer myself up I have ordered the seed potatoes for next year. I am using Alan Romans again as we have always received reliable quality goods from them. I have ordered one bag of Charlotte, three bags of International Kidney and three bags of Vivaldi. We have grown them all before so no surprises. They are first and second earlies so they should be up before any risk of Blight. Despite the greyness of the day there was plenty of colour and entertainment in the garden this morning as the birds were busy feeding.