2017 … Coming, ready or not!

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.


A quiet moment over the holidays visiting family and getting some fresh sea air (Deal, Kent)

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?


A charm of goldfinches

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


Could you eat these cute 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!


About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
This entry was posted in Food, Recipes, The home garden and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to 2017 … Coming, ready or not!

  1. I adore your penguins! I’m gonna make these soon…thanks for sharing:^)

  2. Cute penguins! I like your approach to the garden project. I would be inclined to tackle the the big trees and shrubs first. This will give a strong signal of progress to help you start the tricky work of eradicating the weeds. In a clay soil I fear you may have to be patient and very determined. Good luck and I look forward to reading all about it

    • I was thinking that the first thing is to lose the white lilac which blocks quite a lot of light from the area and then lift the lower branches of the field maple. I really doubt that I will ever eradicate the ground elder (apart from anything else it will inevitably creep in from next door). The garden is full of crocuses and other bulbs so I won’t be starting that task yet. Thanks for your good wishes!

  3. Christina says:

    Good luck with the front garden project. If I were designing a whole garden I always liked to make the front garden as a Winter interest garden. It is what you see when you leave and arrive home and neighbours enjoy when passing. Also a welcome to friends and other visitors. Good luck with the project and I will enjoy following your progress.

  4. Lindy Le Coq says:

    It’s never too early to declare our garden intentions! Best to you in 2017.

  5. Chloris says:

    Good luck with your front garden plans. I want to spend time on my front garden too. I was happy with it for 3 or 4 years as it was an exuberant cottage garden as I designed it to be. Now it seems rather an overgrown mess. That is the trouble with gardens, you get them just how you want them, but they change and grow into something different.
    You do have some lovely birds, a charm of goldfinches is wonderful.
    Happy New Year Allison.

    • Oh thank you and best wishes to you for 2017. Yes, the only constant is change and all that! When I first re-worked the area, it was a pretty woodland garden full of colour and plants in spring, but I am losing various plants to disease (e.g. aquilegias), animals (crocuses/trillium to voles), age (the lilac) and drought (under all the trees). So it all needs some TLC. Good luck with yours too. I look forward to hearing more!

  6. pbmgarden says:

    Happy New Year Allison. Enjoy your planning and projects. I love the photos of the sea and little birds. Lovely they’re collectively called a “charm.”

    • Best wishes for 2017 to you Susie! Some of these collective nouns are so perfect and endearing. I wish that we lived near the sea, but every place has its challenges. Clay and pernicious are my current ones!

  7. Tina says:

    Happy New Year to you, too! Your plans sound ambitious, but doable. And those penguins must have been the hit of the party!

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