There was my little boy standing in the middle of the patio with a bunny (we had let her out of her hutch earlier) hopping at his feet. Our friendly robin was sitting on the table watching and a dunnock kept sweeping past, flying from the hedge to the beech tree.
Further down the garden I could see a male blackbird pulling an unsuspecting worm out of the ground. The bees were happily buzzing in and out of their purple sleeping bags – foxgloves. All we needed now was for my daughter to skip past in her Snow White costume.
Unfortunately, the harmony was shattered when my little boy dropped his trowel onto the concrete, making a terrible din. All the creatures ran for cover.
My hanging baskets of begonias which I lovingly created are under attack. They are being subjected to an aerial bombardment. In the throes of passion, copulating pigeons keep falling off the pergola, smashing into the beautiful displays. Luckily, begonias are quite robust plants and seem to be coping well with the assault.
It reminded me of when my Dad waged war against these birds. He came up with a solution to scare the pigeons away when they were eating all the seed from the bird table, leaving none for his more delicate feathery friends. We called it Dad’s catapulting bird table. In brief, he added a piece of wood to both sides which was also attached to the edge of the bird table by a screw. It acted a bit like a see-saw. The smaller lighter birds could land without any trouble but the heavy ones, fell to the ground. Many a Sunday was spent watching those unsuspecting pigeons get the shock of their lives as the floor was removed from beneath them.
It all came to head, when a crow jumped from the roof of the bird table on to the platform just as a pigeon landed on the other side. It was catapulted up into the air, right over the hedge. At this point we realised that perhaps he had gone too far. We had visions of an unsuspecting dog walker, getting whacked round the head by a pigeon missile. Not to mention the poor bird. He was told by the females in his house to live and let live. A truce was drawn between my dad and the pigeons. I have decided to do the same and will just move my hanging baskets somewhere else. If anyone has any ideas on how to dissuade amorous pigeons please let me know, no catapults though ….
There is a time between darkness and light when for a brief moment the garden becomes magical. The morning mist clings to the earth giving the landscape a mystical feel, petals are laden with dew drops and the air is crisp and fresh. There is a stillness and serenity that quietens the soul. A new day is dawning and on Sunday 29th July this was the scene that greeted us. My little girl and I had spent the night in my old tent for the National Garden SleepOut event (sponsored by Primrose). We were now waking up to the sounds of birdsong. All that kept us from the invigorating outdoors was a thin piece of canvas.
We’ve had a royal visit this week. The Queen came to stay! Not the real one of course, but a gnome I bought to celebrate the Jubilee. My daughter loves her and has paraded the smiling monarch all over the garden.
She has surveyed her Kingdom with a regal air and has decided upon the vegetable plot as her palace. She took a dip in a bucket which was filled with water from the recent rains and even had a shower using the watering can. No expense spared for our guests!
My little gnome friend was suitably impressed by the bunting of the Union flag which hung majestically from the pergola on our patio. I have to say though, she keeps a slightly unnerving eye on me. She appears where I least expect her. I had quite a shock whilst I was peacefully potting up some geraniums in my haven (the greenhouse). I moved a piece of green netting to discover her Royal Highness smiling up at me. Later, I was informed that Queen Elizabeth needed some rest and liked the look and warmth of my glass retreat.
Just before the heavens opened and our Jubilee weekend became a very British affair (rain, strawberries and a stiff upper lip in the face of cold winds), I managed to plant my cherry tomatoes. Their new home was hanging baskets and also, a wrought iron manger I had been given. The latter is now impressively adorning the wall of our once bare garage, like something you’d find in a medieval castle. I did wonder whether it would overpower the patio.
I used marigolds to give the displays a burst of colour. Those little yellow and orange flowers were like knights of the realm protecting the tomatoes from white fly. Surprisingly, the planter didn’t look too bad and has softened the expanse of white that was there before.
I still have a quest to fulfil though, which is to plant the Alicante tomatoes into grow bags. Not an easy task. I have about 25 plants and a toddler who has taken to pulling my delicate little seedlings out by their stems in an effort to help Mummy. I think a couple or so will have to be sacrificed for the greater good.
I can’t wait to see his little face when in the height of summer he toddles into the greenhouse, pushes the lush green foliage aside and discovers the little red gems waiting to be eaten. Having said that, he will probably stumble in, trip over the door frame or the Queen and, in an effort to steady himself; grab the plant pulling the whole lot out in the process! Fingers crossed that the tomato plants and our little gnome make it through the summer unharmed!