The Orange Tip

Month: February, 2012

The First Admiral

As I walked past the house yesterday, through the alley between the logstore and the kitchen windows, a dark winged creature flew up haphazardly into the air and dropped over the fence and into the bottom meadow. Eager to identify it, and driven by a desire reawakened after months of restriction, I caught up with the insect and found to my surprise that it was a red admiral butterfly.

Although red admirals have a long adult stage in the life cycle, and can be seen through most of the summer months from around late June, a spotting in late February is a rare thing, certainly over the last few decades. June/July sightings are most commonly migrants, flying in for the summer. My admiral, therefore, must have successfully overwintered in the garden somewhere. It must have awoken in this mild late winter in the hope and haze of a Spring.

I hope it survived the night!



Seed Sorting in the Shed

Every year around this time the seeds arrive for the coming year. A large box from trusty Sarah Raven will arrive containing cut flowers¬†of annuals and bi-annuals, veg and herb seeds all to be sown between now (February) and August. This year, although trying my hardest to cut down,¬†the packet count was… well, far beyond sensible anyway. Last year I ordered much less but was still pushed to get even 70% of them out into the beds to flower. However, as with my approach for most things in the garden this year, I’m feeling ambitious, and am keen to grow as much variety as possible.



Nothing like a new old tea pot

First Egg


First egg! The chickens can now begin to pay their way.

Red Cedar Wood


Kind donation from the tree surgeons working next door, a decent trunks worth of the wonderfully aromatic red cedar. I wanted to split it for next years firewood immediately just for the addictive smell, all the more sweet for having only moments ago been felled. Stunning epidermal pink circling the sap wood. I left a piece warming on the stove in the shed, the smell steaming out slowly around the room.


Blue tit


Guilty cat.

Early Aconites


Along with some patches of snowdrops just coming into flower, the winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis) are out up over the woodland glade. Although there aren’t a huge number of them, it’s a welcome site in an otherwise stark landscape up there. The buttercup family resemblance brings with it a sudden yearning for summer.

Sleepy Toad


While working in one of the borders this morning I came across a very sleepy young toad, overwintering under some plantain leaves. I moved him to a less disturbed area of the garden.

RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch 2012