Sunday, 13 April 2014

Cardiff flower show

On Friday my friend Edwina and I went to the Royal Horticultural Society flower show at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff.  It was a lovely sunny day with just a few clouds.  There were lots of people there and lots of things to see.  

So many tempting stalls in the farmer's market, which I resisted but Edwina did by some puddings from the pudding shop. 

I did buy some plants though, some clematis and some herbs.  Some of the garden exhibits were representative of the type of garden that can be found in Cardiff's twin cities. 

This one celebrates the Chinese city of Xiamen with trees, rocks, water and a bridge.

Next is the city of Hordaland in Norway showing the type of architecture in the first picture and the lush vegetation and cobbled streets in the second.

The third city represented is Lugansk in Ukriane. This is a family orientated garden with a children's play area and a tree decorated with little dolls made by the children.

The building is a traditional banya (sauna) where the family relax after working in the garden. It is made entirely of recycled materials and the roof being made from car bonnets.

My favourite garden was this woodland garden.  I like the way they have used logs and slate

There were some birds of prey there too. Just love the owls.

I think the first one is the long-eared owl and second is a barn owl

And this one is a snowy owl

I didn't take as many photos as I would have liked because once I had bought my plants it was difficult to take pictures with my hands full.  There were 2 large marquees of flowers of all kinds. All so beautiful and colourful. The only flower photos I took were of the remarkable display of daffodil varieties.  I am sure this wasn't all the varieties there are. 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Easter egg competition.

Thought I had finished having to help with this now my kids are grown but I had Stuart after school and his nan gave me some hard boiled eggs and asked if I could help him with his eggs.  He decided on his theme and I provided the materials and some advice. I think he did a great job with the materials available.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Spring flowers and other signs of Spring

Time to think about real flowers and bees after yesterdays post.  Lots of spring flowers in the garden now. Looks so lovely after the dull brown winter garden.  The primroses always put on a good show and provide nectar for the early bees.  The bees found their first food on my plum tree which I wrote about in an earlier post. That has lost its blossom now but looking forward to lots of plum, I hope.

The primroses spread everywhere, these are on my rock garden but they also grow in my lawn and are so many different colours.  At the top of the photo are blue muscari which are also very proliferative. 

 Lots of different daffodils but don't know the names of the varieties.  This one is a favourite and has several flowers on each stem. 

This double one is lovely but sadly the flower is so heavy it soon falls over and gets eaten by the slugs

Another favourite is the snake head fritillary, no prize for guessing the origin of its name.

This little violet is growing in the gravel path but also have them growing in the front lawn.

 Moving on from the flowers there are other signs of Spring in the garden. Below two different ladybirds out of hibernation, spotted by Stuart.  Seven spot red and two spot black. 

 These buds on this conifer look like masses of ladybirds.

Broken egg shell must mean we have newly hatched birds somewhere nearby. These look like pigeon eggs. Found two shells very close together. 

On the right of this photo is a mass of frog tadpoles just about ready to venture further into the pond to look after themselves now they have finished feeding on the spawn jelly. Not many of them will survive so that is why they produce so many every year. 

Seen several newts in the pond again but they are difficult to photograph.If you look carefully centre bottom you might see it. 

And finally after living in this house for 18 years I saw my first hedgehog.  I was specially watching out for him as I spotted what I suspected were hedgehog dropping on the patio and that night he came along sniffing around under the bird feeders.  Must have recently emerged from hibernation.  Hedgehogs like cat food but the problem is if I put it out for them I will be inviting all the neighbourhood cats too. 

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Trying something new

I look at a lot of craft blogs on the Internet and have seen some lovely embroidered pictures framed in embroidery hoops.  Saw some more in Craft in the Bay in Cardiff last week.  Decided I would try some myself.  I enjoyed doing these and think I would like to do more. All I need now is a cheap source for embroidery hoops.   I have plenty of crafty bits and pieces to use to make them.  I still need to back them.  I have looked on the Internet and so many different suggestions as to how to do this. So will have to think about it.

Butterfly and Bee. 

Quite like my little bee, I think it might feature in a lot of pictures.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Swans story

Spring is well and truly here and it is time to start the swan's story again.  I love to follow them through the year and hope some of you do too.  Last year the pair had 8 cygnets which caused quite a stir in the area by their travels around town to another lake nearby when they held up the traffic by walking down the middle of the road.  The female was injured at one stage and taken to a swan sanctuary for treatment but later returned.  The cygnets have been moved elsewhere as the adults try to drive them away at the end of the summer.  They are probably with a group of several other juveniles somewhere.

On March 11th I noticed they had started building their nest on the lake in the same place as last year.   The female or pen builds the nest while her partner, the cob supplies the materials.

  Today I stopped by the lake as I noticed the pen was sitting on the nest.  I watched for a while until she stood up and saw that she had 3 or maybe 4 eggs.  This seems rather early in the year as I had read they lay between late April and early May.  I don't know when she laid the eggs so if only recently there may be a chance she will lay more.  The usually lay up to 7 but as they had 8 last year she may do the same again.

The incubation period for the eggs is 35 to 41 days so hopefully we will have cygnets on the lake in early May.

Monday, 31 March 2014


One day in February when Stuart and I were looking round the garden he spotted these strange lumps of jelly-like substance among the gravel on the path.  I had noticed this once before then forgotten to check it out.  I contacted Gwent Wildlife Trust as there is usually somebody knowledgeable there who can often put a name to anything.  As usual someone did.  It is called Nostoc pruniforme and is a form of cyanobacteria.

 My first thought was how to get rid of it but after reading about it I think it might be a useful addition to my wildlife garden.  This is an extract from a Wikipedia entry. Click on it to read more.

Cyanobacteria inhabit nearly all illuminated environments on Earth and play key roles in the carbon and nitrogen cycle of the biosphere. In general, cyanobacteria are able to utilize a variety of inorganic and organic sources of combined nitrogen, like nitratenitriteammoniumurea, or some amino acids. Several cyanobacterial strains are also capable of diazotrophic growth, an ability that may have been present in their last common ancestor in the Archaean.[6] Nitrogen fixation by cyanobacteria in coral reefs can fix twice the amount of nitrogen than on land—around 1.8 kg of nitrogen is fixed per hectare per day. The colonial marine cyanobacterium Trichodesmium is thought to fix nitrogen on such a scale that it accounts for almost half of the nitrogen-fixation in marine systems on a global scale.[7]

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Early Mother's Day.

Visited the boys and their families last weekend as I had been invited to watch granddaughter Jasmine in her first dance show.  Prior to that she had a Stagecoach show which I also watched.  This included dancing and singing and also acting using puppets they had previously made.  Here is Jasmine posing for photo after the show. She is the one in yellow.

After this show we took her to the theatre to prepare for the dance show.  Jasmine was dancing with a group of children aged about 4 - 7.  They tap danced to the tune Wiggly Woo which is a song I remember from the 1950s.  They all did very well but we were not allowed to take any photos. 

I took the doll cushions I made for the girls and they both loved them.  Jasmine even took hers out when we went for lunch on Sunday.  We went to a gastro-pub called The Farm in Solihull for Sunday lunch which was my Mother's Day treat a week early.

I took photos of everybody's lunch but won't bore you with them all. Everybody had something different and there was quite an extensive menu. I had my favourite roast beef which was very nice even though the giant Yorkshire pudding was a bit overdone. I will show you mine

Granddaughter Safeya with Bear standing on daddy

 Grandson Zach with uncle Sam

Jasmine and Jakob waiting for their lunch

Jasmine with her new friend.