Happy New Year! 2017 has begun. Are you ready to start new resolutions, projects and adventures? I am hoping that this year is filled with peace and accord and many wonderful moments, successes and kindnesses.
Over the last week or two I’ve been mulling over various garden projects and I have decided that the main focus this year will be to get the front garden in order. The front garden is a bit of a mess to be quite honest and by announcing the plan to the world, I am hoping that I am more likely to stick to it.
In fact, over the years I have already had a couple of goes at it. The first time was during the year after we moved in and I cleared a bramble/privet/lonicera nitida thicket from the whole area so that I could plant the front hedge (hornbeam). Then a few years later I had another go when I installed a twisted rope edge to a bark ‘woodland’ path that I meandered through the central area. But the garden is still full of some nasty perennial weeds (largely bind-weed, ground elder and brambles) which I have been removing in a cursory way in blitzes twice a year. This time however, I am going to be more systematic and thorough. I am also resolved to improve the dreadful clay soil there and deal with the excessive root systems of the surrounding trees. This will probably mean getting ruthless in some way with several inherited trees and shrubs (a massive field maple, a white lilac, a purple lilac and some large wayfayer shrubs). I think that I will have to set some target dates for work in different areas, so that I can measure (and hopefully be encouraged by) progress. Once I have decided where to start, I will begin by documenting what is where currently and sharing in a post. Then I will be definitely committed to the project!
Have you got any changes for your garden planned for this year?
Just before Christmas we re-instituted bird feeders along front edge of the pergola. It is always great fun to watch the birds from the kitchen window whilst cooking the holiday fare. So far we have stuck to filling them with traditional peanuts and sunflower hearts. At first there was very little traffic to the food, but that has quickly changed and we are now seeing all our favourites. I love to see the goldfinches on the sunfower hearts and this winter there seem to be an impressive number of goldfinches around. The photo above is fairly typical: A charm of them waiting on our back hawthorn hedge, deciding which feeder to visit next. (Our neighbours both have comprehensive, year-round feeding stations set up.)
On New Year’s Eve we also found ourselves enjoying the hospitality of our neighbours, but to take some of the pressure off our hosts each guest contributed a dish for the evening. We took the starters and when I was deciding what to make I remembered a fun penguin canapé I’d tried from photo a few years ago. These penguins are so cute and easy that I thought I would pass them on:-
Cocktail Stick Penguins
The little penguins are constructed from:
- Sliced carrot (cut across the length into circles with little triangles removed) to form the webbed feet.
- Pitted black olives (I used tinned olives stored in brine) for the black of the body and heads
- Either triangular wedges of a hard cheese (e.g. cheddar or guyere) or cream cheese stuffed into a front cut, to make their tummies
- Small isosceles triangles of sweet pepper/capsicum, poked through the pit hole to form their beaks
Enjoy and best wishes for 2017!