Six on Saturday – 4/7/2020

Last week, Nate gave over her six to the arrival in her garden of a peacock. Would that I could follow her lead. Our week here has been dominated/overshadowed (take your pick) by a pair of gulls deciding to nest behind our chimney. We should have been more vigilant, but you simply can’t see the nest from the ground and there are always gulls about. Two chicks appeared about ten days ago, probably not long after they’d hatched. The adults started getting noisy and somewhat aggressive whenever someone appeared in the front garden.

On Wednesday, one of the chicks ended up down on the ground and all hell broke loose. Step outside the front door and both parents would instantly start screaming and dive bombing you. Within seconds there were two or three more gulls joining in, lining up on the nearest roofs and launching attacks the moment you looked away. I thought the neighbourhood cats would soon have it, but they got the same treatment and backed off. I hoped figured they’d just wait for nightfall and that there would be a pile of feathers on Thursday morning. Wrong. There it was, ambling up and down the drive, mum coming down to feed it.

While I was out, some of our neighbours donned climbing helmets, caught it in a cat box and released it in the village hall carpark which is only two small gardens away and currently unused. They figured the adults would hear it and feed it there, away from people. Next door has two very small children, the risk of someone getting hurt was pretty high.

It seems to have worked. The adults are having to divide their attention which is keeping them occupied. The minute the other chick is gone we’ll be up there to clear the nest and block them from building another. I have no intention of posting six pictures of gulls, it’ll serve for one item.

One.
Larus argentatus. Herring Gull. There are no herrings here but they don’t seem to mind that. The nearest council landfill site is about three miles away, they’re not starving.
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I did get a short video clip 8 days ago, when both chicks were still on the roof. I suspect one climbed onto the solar panels and slid down and off the roof.


Two.
The front garden has been the focus of attention in other ways this week. A partial makeover is under way. The Chamaerops was getting absurdly big and with rows of hooked spines down every petiole, was a bit of a brute. All but the youngest leaves were heavily spotted with rust, so it wasn’t looking attractive. It has gone. I have space!
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Three.
Out the back, removing just one plant made a big difference. I was going to put the Astilbe bed in as an item but having removed a large pot of Alstroemeria ‘Indian Summer’ and replaced it with a pot of Fuchsias, the Astilbes seem like a footnote to the story. Sue just commented that it looked so much better and it was a wonder we’d not thought to do it before.

Four.
Crassula multicava. Fairy crassula. A couple of years ago we were given some little plantlets of this by a lady in St Austell. She lives close to Carlyon Bay in a spot probably a degree or two less cold than us and had this growing in gravel at the front of her house, in sun but just under the edge of a large shrub. It’s been there for years. We had two plants in pots, one of which is now on top of the wall behind the Astilbes and the other in a glazed pot that we can bring in for winter. It has pretty but tiny flowers and produces lots of plantlets on the flower head. The leaves are soft and succulent, I don’t expect it to survive outside here but lots of South African plants do..
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Five.
Aloysia citriodora. Lemon Verbena. We’ve had this in a pot for several years and I think it may have produced the odd flower before. This year it is covered, not that that is saying much, given the size of the flowers. When I walked past it one evening this week I fancy I caught a waft of scent from the flowers, as distinct from the foliage smell. I haven’t managed to get it since, so I probably imagined it. It has many culinary uses but has never been put to any of them in our household.

Six.
The Alstroemeria mash-up. Having cleared the space out front, we started considering what to fill it with. Something flowery, like Altroemerias, we thought. Nice hot colours and flowering for months. Happy in full sun. Head for the garden centre. Turns out most of what he had were dwarf, pale colours or not looking terribly good. We came away with a tall, pale flowered variety called ‘Summer Break’ and a dwarf variety ‘Inticancha Sunshine’. They were £9.50 for well rooted 3L pots, I think I know good value when I see it. I split the pot of ‘Indian Summer’ into three and put the pieces in 20 litre pots in the tunnel. If they recover quickly they can go out the front. ‘Summer Break’ is earmarked for the big pot with the fuchsias in it, but I’ll grow it on a bit first.

Cornwall is somewhat bracing itself for an influx of visitors from today. The weather is doing its best to help, it’s as near to raining as you can get without actual water coming from the sky. There may be gardening done, there may not. Blog watching, via The Propagator’s portal onto the horticultural universe, will likely feature large.

31 thoughts on “Six on Saturday – 4/7/2020

  1. Hope those young gulls don’t have a homing instinct, best watch out next year Jim. Your description of the incident is pretty horrifying, almost Hitchcockish.

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  2. Where did you put your palm tree? did you trash it? Or are you going to plant it elsewhere?
    Nothing to see with the garden but do you use solar panels for hot water or for heating?

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    1. I trashed the palm. It had been in a pot for years before planting and hadn’t really grown out, probably why it wasn’t very healthy. The solar panels generate electricity which feeds into the grid unless we use it ourselves.

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      1. That’s good ( solar panel use ) ! Not used enough here. I’m going to look for suppliers: my idea would be to heat the greenhouse and the shed with them.

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      2. One day I will get an electric car and hopefully use most of my surplus generation to run it. Then I still get paid for what I generate, even though I’ve used most of it myself.

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  3. Looking forward to seeing what the front looks like once you fill in that space. Long ago, we went birdwatching on an island in Northumberland with warnings to keep our heads covered because the terns would happily take chunks out of our scalps if we ventured too near their nests. Meanwhile, lovely astilbes.

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  4. That’s a scary gull story! I wonder of the chick in Josh’s garden survived? (30daysofwildparenting). I often hear the crows on my roof, hope none of them get any ideas.

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    1. I’ve marvelled at the fearlessness of swallows mobbing a cat to steer it away from their nest, or attacking a buzzard in flight, I shouldn’t complain when another bird species instinctively and fearlessly acts to protect its young from me. It’s admirable if you’re not on the receiving end.

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    1. My biggest worry was the youngsters next door. I suppose lack of easy pickings at the seaside could have encouraged them to nest further inland. Every house round here has a chimney, if we get rid of them from our roof they could easily pick another.

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  5. We have swallows and I’ve seen them go for one of our cats in the past (a male one) and they have seen off a Little Owl too. Hope your gulls are soon re-homing themselves. When people on gardening programmes say they want ‘a wildlife garden’ it always makes me think of things like this a wonder if they really do.
    I like your before and after pictures in item 3 – it makes such a difference. The Alstroemeria, despite being very pretty, is too distracting where it was.

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    1. I think we always knew that the Alstroemeria was jarring but didn’t really have anywhere else more suitable. In the meantime we got used to it so it was a bit of a surprise just how much difference moving it made.

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  6. Wow! What a story! I would not have had your patience with those birds. Are they nesting INSIDE your chimney? Love your solar panels. I have a small electric solar system and am hoping to get a Tesla soon. My fear is the peacock, who is now getting on the roof, will jump on the panels and scratch them.

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    1. They’re nesting on the roof just behind the chimney. The remaining chick is growing fast and already losing its down. Hopefully they’ll all be gone in a few weeks. You look like you’ve got a longer term problem with your new “pet”. Have you named him yet?

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  7. What a bummer that the Mediterranean fan palm needed to go! I had never seen them get rust, or any disease. Of course, our climate is a Mediterranean climate.
    Those gulls are like ‘the Birds’. Alfred Hitchcock lived here. A friend drives his old car.

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      1. Do you find the thorns of the palm to be bothersome? Those that I have known were not in such a crowded garden. I sort of thought that I would not want to work on other plants or groundcover that grew under them.

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  8. An interesting story there about the little gull. I would have thought that the parents would have abandoned it as it was moved away from the nest. Interesting that they are rushing between babies to feed them both. My Crassula is full of buds at the moment, so I am expecting a good show of fairy flowers in a couple of months. All the lemon verbena I have tried to grow look weedy and then just fade away. I’m impressed with the number of flowers on your plant. Lovely Alstroemeria.

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    1. The gulls were certainly not going to abandon the chick on the ground so moving it a short distance didn’t add much to their woes. Interesting that you grow that Crassula, it’d be happier with you I imagine. If mine just limps along I shall grow it in a pot and overwinter it under cover.

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  9. I’ve had a lot of flowers on my Lemon Verbena as well. It seems that as soon as they open white they turn brown. Very disappointing. It’s strange how a plant can be very healthy but be in the wrong place.

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