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Happy gardening!

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Our Garden in Brittany - a fly-thru for ready meals!

After a fairly rubbish night's sleep last night with the strong winds and yet more very heavy rain here I pulled myself out of bed at 9.40am to go and get Lucy out and was stopped in my tracks on the stairs when I noticed we had a visitor poised quietly on the roof of the bird table - a large Sparrow Hawk - thinking this must be like the equivalent of a Macdonalds Drive-Thru for him or her - with free ready meals!!  There wasn't a Blue Tit in sight!  So I rushed back upstairs to try and get a shot of the bird and this was the only one I managed through an upstairs window before it took off!  It was a nice surprise on such a dismal morning!

Sorry I've not been around visiting blogs much this week but have been busy working on a garden design for some French clients which has certainly kept me busy.

However in odd moments during the week I did manage to get one or two pictures which I've been storing up for my weekend posting.  This young Great Spotted Woodpecker sat for ages after filling himself up on peanuts from the feeder - I wouldn't be surprised if he was one of last year's babies which I'd captured on the bird table last summer.













The weather has played a predominant part this week - I think we've had the wettest weather we've ever had in the last 7 years now in Brittany - at least Lucy was making the most it!
















This is the field just below our house looking towards the road - the water right up to the arch on the stone bridge (hidden by the bushes!).

The stream which runs along the bottom of our woodland is now a complete torrent which has flooded almost as far as our French farming neighbours - this is only the second time that the little bridge over the stream has been completely immersed too.  We had very strong winds last night but from what I could see no real damage which was a relief.


A view from our woodland towards our neighbours!
















The spring flowers have certainly benefitted from all the extra watering - the daffodils are almost out, Hellebores continue to bloom and finally the lovely red Camelia has fully opened! 




This morning I discovered one solitary flower on the Pulmonaria had braved the elements too.  With the rain the perfume from the Lonicera was amazing... it's not an easy shrub to photo with such delicate flowers but a real favorite.










During the week of horrible weather it's been nice to see a few snowdrops and bright yellow crocus without having to go out of the house!

Do hope you all have a good week - have been busy collecting up toilet rolls in readiness for planting seeds in a few weeks hopefully... more on that in due course...

34 comments:

Edith Hope said...

Dear Miranda, I have so missed my little forays into Brittany but am glad to know that all is well and that you have been busy with a client's garden.

What an amazing picture of a Sparrow Hawk and clearly so close to the house. Very unusual for that to happen, I imagine.

And what rain! Your pictures really do give a very clear indication of what it must have been like. That amount of water can be so dangerous so do be careful. As for your spring flowers, they are lovely.

Rosie said...

Miranda

I just heard on the news that France had terrible weather last night and there has been dreadful damage in places and deaths. No wonder you were awake half the night!

Still no crocus in my garden yet - it snowed from Wednesday here - Perthshire got it the worst with power lines down so I 've not got into the garden for days to see whats appeared since the snow has melted. I'm still hibernating here lol

I would love to have a woodpecker visit my garden. My neighbour across the road has one - a lesser spotted one. I love their markings.

Wow a camelia in flower already - it will be sometime in April before I see one of those.

From your photos you look as if you have some pretty bad rainfall. Like you I'm surrounded by water too so there is always the risk of flooding (as you know my area well) I hope you get some better weather this week to help dry it all up and I hope you have success with your new clients garden design.

Rosie :)

The Early Birder said...

Hi Miranda. Very interesting to see how many of us are getting close garden encounters with Sparrowhawks at the moment. The sight and perfume of the early blooms definitely helps to raise the spirits with all this wet underfoot. FAB.

Miranda Bell said...

Dear Edith - thank you so much for popping over to my blog - sorry there haven't been many postings this last short while - this is what happens when you have a gardening business... I miss all the contact and having time to check out what is happening elsewhere! I've been aware that there has a been a Sparrow Hawk around but I've never seen one that close and static like that so near to the house... do hope you have a good week - finally finished the design tonight - off to the printers tomorrow :-) Miranda x

Miranda Bell said...

Dear Rosie - you're right France has really had a bad go of the weather this last few days but last night in particular but then again the UK has had it's fair share including your neck of the woods too... do hope the snow goes soon - you poor thing with no flowers to see - the snow can become a bit of drag after a while especially when it stops you getting out.

I love the Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers too - have seen 2 since we've been here but they're not v. common at all.

I must admit despite Brittany being very pretty, I do miss the hills and mountains you have around you - especially in the wintry weather! Have a good week - Miranda x

Miranda Bell said...

Thanks for visiting Early Birder - you're right about the Sparrow Hawks - I'm guessing that this one is a female judging by your rather fab shot of the male - the plumage on the male being more vibrant as is so often! Can I be really nosy and ask what camera you have as I'm really hoping to be able to get a better one with a better zoom this year and need all the help I can get! Hope you have a drier week this week - having said that at least with all this bad weather it does bring wildlife and birds nearer to your back door... Miranda

Chris said...

Hello Miranda. My goodnes, I thought our garden was wet! Lovely to see so many blooms though. Sparrow Hawks, hmm, usually followed by finding a heap of feathers in our garden, they are not a favourite :-( but I have never seen a woodpecker here which surprises me as we are surrounded by so much woodland. Happy March.

shirl said...

Hi again Miranda, as you know we were getting the same sightings and posting at the same time too. Don’t you think she is cheeky sitting on the bird table roof? We also see this.

Wow… that’s a lot of water you have there. I too heard about this in the news after I’d seen your post. Hope it hasn’t got any worse for you.

As Frank said, it’s great you have some colour there to brighten your damp surroundings. Then again as you point out the weather does kick up opportunities to see things you don’t always see.

Wishing you a good week :-D

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Wow! What a visitor and what a great shot! All that water is also impressive! I love the pictures, especially Lucy in the water and your snowdrops.

Liz said...

Hi Miranda,

Love the Hellebore it's so stunning!

Sorry to hear you've been having horrible weather... And here I was thinking France's weather is far better than the UK's!
Mind, Scotland has had shocking weather - snow... I can't even begin to imagine how they must all be feeling right now.

It kinda makes me feel bad for feeling in a good mood as the sun is shining and it's lovely outside, a real Spring day, my Iris have finally opened and I've planted loads of Viola's I bought very cheap!

Noelle said...

We have been seeing reports here in the States of the very bad weather that you have been having. I do hope you dry out soon. The sparrow hawk looked like he was just resting a bit before starting to hunt.

The Early Birder said...

Hi Miranda. My DSLR is a Cannon EOS 450D and I usually use a EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens for most wildlife shots. I have found the lens to be quite versitile, even for close ups with Dragonflies and flowers but as many of my bird subjects tend to be at some distance I have recently been digiscoping with the 450D attached to a birding scope via a photo adapter as the cost of a bigger lens could be out of reach now that I've stopped working. I also use a 17 -85mm IS USM lens for general shots. Both lenses came as part of a kit deal from Warehouse Express so worth checking them out. So far I have found their service excellent.

If you mainly take shots using a tripod then you don't actually need lenses with IS (Image Stabilisation) but as I take mine hand-held it certainly helps. One of the more expensive DSLR's will have more 'bells & whistles' including higher ISO speeds which obviously helps in poorer light conditions.

BTW I think our paths may have crossed during the past 10 - 14 years as I was working at the RHS Wisley Plant Centre until they restructured towards the end of last year.

As for the weather, well the sun has shone today and looks good for tomorrow so will head out for some coastal birding in the sunshine before the rain returns later this week. Best wishes. Frank.

Anna said...

Thanks for your recent comments on my blog
Miranda :) I have been sorry to read about the dreadful storms that have affected France in the last few days and the sad consequences of such weather. We have enjoyed a few holidays in Brittany - a lovely part of the world. Looking forward to getting to know you and your garden better.

debsgarden said...

You have certainly had your share of rain! We, too, have had one of the wettest years ever. But I won't soon forget our terrible drought of 2007, so I'm not complaining. I am looking forward to some sunny days predicted for later this week. The photo of the hawk is amazing. We have a red-tailed hawk pair nesting near my Lady Garden, but so far I've not been able to get a photo.

Thanks for stopping by my own blog. have a great week!

Miranda Bell said...

Dear Chris - Thanks so much for visiting and for your comments too - it has been a wet old time but the water is going down bit by bit and I managed to get my first load of grass cutting done yesterday which was great! Forecast looks quite dry for the next number of days so here's hoping that I can get them all looking good before Easter! Take care Miranda x

Miranda Bell said...

Thanks for popping over Shirl - a very cheeky Mrs Sparrow Hawk indeed - maybe she reckoned on being camouflaged up there... not sure the Blue Tits would fall for that one!! It's been amazing but despite the storms and all the rain the plants are coming on bit by bit - the Hellebores especially and enough to bring a smile to anyone's face! You are right - I do love my work and it's very satisfying especially getting gardens ready for when people come over on holiday - most of the ones I look after are for people who have properties as 2nd homes rather than one that they let out which is much better! Take care and hope more of your Penstemons kick into life Miranda x

Miranda Bell said...

Thanks Tatyana - must admit Lucy loves her walks especially if it includes water!! I'm off to see a client up near the coast today so hope to sneak a walk on the beach too! Hope you're having a good week where you are.. Miranda x

Miranda Bell said...

Liz please dont' feel bad because I think all that sunny weather has hopped over to France - it's still v. cold at nights - two frosts the last two but I actually managed to get my first lot of grass cutting done yesterday which was great... hope your spring flowers are enjoying their new home - I noticed there were more Hellebores out this morning - some of my favorite flowers! Take care Miranda x

Miranda Bell said...

Hi Noelle thanks so much for visiting -we have had some pretty awful weather here but it seems to have turned around - cold sunny days at the moment which are fab for gardening! Hope you're doing well where you are - Miranda x

Miranda Bell said...

Hi Frank - thank you so much for all the trouble you went to on the camera descriptions - I'll print this off and keep it for the day that I have enough to get what I want - other people's experiences on this is invaluable and a bit more genuine than your average salesman!!

Not sure if our paths would have crossed as infact I've only ever visited the Wisley shop once when I was meeting a friend and it was too late to go around the garden :-( - I did my training with Jon Wheatley (Dahlia specialist) in Bristol - he was such a great teacher! Anyway aside of that hope you got some good shots whilst on the coast... thanks again - Miranda

Miranda Bell said...

Thanks for your thoughtfulness - France has been hit hard with the recent weather but in Brittany today the sun is shining and the water levels receeding which is great!Hope you're having a good week where you are and managing to get out into your garden - Miranda

Miranda Bell said...

Thanks for popping over Debs - and here's hoping you manage to get shots of your Hawk! Always interesting to see the different species of birds people have futher afield as they are invariably different to those here - Off to go and do some work outside so hope you have a good day... Miranda x

Kelly@LifeOutOfDoors said...

hi - I just found you via Blotanical - what fun to see a garden in Brittany. The hellebores make me renew my pledge to have them in my Philadelphia garden next year. Camelias may be a stretch - but they are lovely. Hope you dry out soon! Kelly

Miranda Bell said...

Hi Kelly - a really warm welcome to my blog and glad you found it - shame you're not living nearby as I could give you a pile of seedlings - the Hellebores seem to have produced an absolute mass of babies this year - we've had a completely dry week this week which is why I'm so behind in replying to postings - I run a gardening and design business here and have been out gardening every day! Have a lovely weekend - Miranda

Brittanygirl said...

Hello Miranda Back from the Clinic now and back on the internet. Lovely photographs of both the sparrowhawk and woodpecker. We have been lucky just here with the flooding not really affecting us, but I have been amazed driving around just how much water is lying everywhere. Brittany certainly shouldn't run out of water this year.

kate smudges said...

I didn't realise that the weather had been so terrible there. What a lot of rain you've had. I hope the water recedes quickly. Lucy must have loved it At least you have some beautiful spring blooms. The sparrow hawk must have been a wonderful sight. I love when there's a surprise like this. I hope you are having a relaxing weekend ~ it sounds as if you have been really busy with work.

Babara said...

When seeing your blooming Spring harbingers, especially the camelia, I had to scroll back and look at the posting date. Already in February you're spoilt with all these beauties, lucky you. Since yesterday our garden is again covered with snow and my various hellebores seem to have been disappeared. This year we have to be very patient in waiting for Spring and do some gardening.

Gail said...

That is a great deal of rain Miranda~It might take a while for the soil to dry out. We had our share last year~ Love the woodpecker... shot. gail

ShySongbird said...

Oh dear! I nearly missed this post :(
I was sorry to read of, and see, the appalling weather you have experienced recently and hope you are drying out now!

The Sparrowhawk was rather advertising herself by actually perching on the bird table :) I know they have to eat too but I do prefer them not to do so in my garden too often :)

Lovely colourful flower photos here Miranda, it does lift the spirits to see some colour after the drab days of Winter.

I loved seeing the Woodpecker photos, I would so like to see them in my garden!

That was a great tip on an earlier post about using old mineral water bottles as slug protection, I shall try that :)

Miranda Bell said...

Hi Sandra - sorry to be so long in replying - no time for my blog this week as work has certainly kept me busy and will continue to do so now... Do hope your ankle is mending now and that you've been able to get out and enjoy your garden a bit more this week... keep in touch Miranda x

Miranda Bell said...

Dear Kate - my work continues to keep me pretty busy - thus the long time lag in replying to your lovely comments - at least the water has all gone now and have even started grass cutting! Do hope you're doing well and having a good weekend - take care Miranda x

Miranda Bell said...

Hi Barbara - thanks so much for your comments - do hope your snow has started to subside and you can see something more of your garden and that you've found some flowers at least to fill that beautiful vase! Take care Miranda x

Miranda Bell said...

Dear Gail - well you might be surprised as I was that 10 days following all this rain I started my grass cutting - a miracle in itself - such a relief to be able to get out and start on the gardening routines especially now with many clients coming out for the Easter Holidays - do hope you're having a good weekend Miranda x

Miranda Bell said...

Dear Shysongbird - glad you didn't miss my posting and was lovely to get your comments too - we've even had the woodpecker in the garden this morning - he's very cheeky in that he seems to hog the nuts whilst all the little Blue Tits wait in the wings till he finishes!! Haven't see the Sparrow Hawk recently though so at least it leaves the little birds in peace for a while. I must admit it's at this time of year I start to look forward to the Swallows arriving :-) - do hope you're having a good weekend - we celebrated our 6th Wedding Anniversary yesterday - can't believe the time has gone so quickly! Take care Miranda x