At Wimpole Hall, near Cambridge, the Reindeer Road is once again set up to welcome visitors to the gardens. If you take a walk along the winding bark-chip path through the Pleasure Grounds down to the Walled Garden and Home Farm and you will find herds of wooden deer grazing amongst the shrubbery. They are shy of course, but remarkably tolerant of humans spying on them, counting their number and even making lots of noise. The deer are glad that the snow has cleared, because they can once again find lush grass to eat.
For the last few weeks the gardens have been providing seeds and berries to a surprising number of hawfinches. Apparently these birds are arriving in large numbers in Britain following crop failures in Romania and Germany. Indeed, as you arrive at the carpark you will see birders lined up with their large telephoto lenses pointed at the tops of the trees in the Pleasure gardens. The Cambridgeshire Bird Club website is full of hawfinch sightings, many from Wimpole (e.g. look at these beauties photographed by Geoff Harries). I am disappointed to say that I have not spotted any yet.
Down in the Walled Garden you will easily spot what has become a typical symbol of Christmas: robins. Watch any of the gardeners working there and you will see that they nearly all have their own flittering red companion hovering close by, on the espalier fruit trees or the box hedges or the wheelbarrows, waiting for tasty worms and insects to be revealed.
There is a story that they became a classic Christmas card feature by association with the red uniform worn by the first postmen, who were also know as ‘robins’.
Anyhow, sadly we won’t be seeing snow here again in East Anglia over the next few days, so it is not going to be a fairytale white Christmas. Therefore, I am also taking inspiration for my Christmas card from our friendly robin red breasts. The one featured below was caught on camera while diligently watching my progress tidying the borders this week.
Wishing you all a happy and peaceful Christmas