Early Chores

We spent the afternoon of Good Friday in the back garden, laying in with the pruning equipment with a passion.

Corylus cornuta, male flower.
Corylus cornuta, male flower.

I thinned out the Beaked Hazel (Corylus cornuta), which was beginning to obstruct the path. It is in bloom now–at least the dangling male flowers are present, with no sign yet of any of the anemone-like female flowers. This shrub, which grows to about 2.5m (8′) in our garden, provides us with bean-poles yearly, and makes a great screen from the neighbours.

Next I cleaned the nest box that I had set up in our back-garden spruce tree. Years ago I had thinned out this tree to let in more light into the north part of the garden, and to allow my daughter to do a bit of climbing. This allowed access to upper part of the tree where I placed a nest box which was  sized for Merlin. which we sometimes see in out area. This may have been pointless as there is some question of whether or not Merlins will actually use a cavity nest.

View from the Nestbox.
View from the Nestbox.

However, it had been put to use by something, as the bottom had about 8cm (3″) of grasses, string and tissue paper inside–probably the ubiquitous house sparrow, although the size of the opening would leave a small bird vulnerable to predators.

Part of the cost of having a small garden with larger trees and shrubs is the fall litter that is created. While the back garden re-absorbs most of the leaves it produces, a great quantity of spruce cones, needles and leaves fall to block the garage eavestrough, so at least twice a year I must clean these out. In spring they are usually full of litter, with the lower areas already decomposed. I just scoop it out by hand and sprinkle it over the garden.

The pond is mostly thawed, with just a small block of ice around the filter box which is preventing the pump from working. I need to activate it and do some dredging as there is a distinct blackness to the water and pond edge due to the amount of decaying organic matter. The dredgings will also be scattered around the garden, which is rich in nutrients and not to be wasted–no matter how it looks!

Wildlife spotted lately? On Thursday I saw the first robin, and on Good Friday two Milbert’s Tortoiseshell butterflies were seen pursuing each other in the front garden–too fast and fleeting for photographs. Earlier in the week I heard a Sharp-shinned hawk , and the first gulls returned to our neighborhood. I await the first visit from our mallards, which first began visiting the pond in spring a few years ago.

Spring is here.


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