Category Archives: Gardens

Garden Updates

Big Garden Birdwatch 2016: Homes & Shelters

Big Garden Birdwatch banner

The Hidden Gardens staff and volunteers had a lovely morning taking part in
the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch on Saturday 30th January 2016.

Our initial excitement at seeing a Sparrow hawk fly over the gardens was dampened when we realised that the silence meant all the wee birds had stopped singing and gone into hiding! However they did venture out again and we were very pleased with our ‘snapshot’ of the bird life in the gardens. Here’s what we saw during our hour:

blackbird x 2
bluetit x 4
crow x 3
chaffinch x 4
coaltit x 1
dunnock x 1
feral pigeon x 2
goldfinch x 1
great tit x 2
greenfinch x 1
magpie x 3
robin x 2
wood pigeon x 2
bullfinch x 3
sparrowhawk x 1

A Winter Solstice

A winter solstice_Allan Hughes 2240 x 2040

Allan Hughes, one of our dedicated gardening volunteers, wrote a piece of prose inspired by seasonal beauty of The Hidden Gardens.

Entitled ‘A Winter Solstice’, it is our pleasure to share it with you:

A Winter Solstice

The Shortest Day

A winter mist silently shrouds the Hidden Gardens. The still white cloud quietly cloaks the sleeping settlement. The air is cold, fresh and moist.

High up, a crow’s caw cuts into the sky as the diffuse glow of morning light begins to permeate the slowly rising haze.

The shimmering shadow of a returning fox briefly disrupts the calm; then fades. The quiet returns.

As dawn gradually breaks, groups of nestling bushes and shrubs awaken with the rustling of rousing wildlife.

Trees stretch with a concertina of balletic branches praising the arrival of the new day. The clinging mist finally releases and ascends, leaving a glistening layer of silvery white frost settling on the emerging pasture.

The delicate blades of grass sparkle in the morning light.

At the far corner of the extending lawn, the solitary figure of a Ginko tree stands tall and proud like a wise tribal elder. Its branches spiral upwards to the heavens. The surrounding congregation bows reverently in anticipation of the winter solstice.

Then, all is hushed. A single track of tiny prints zips through the crisp, white frost. All focus on the track as it makes its way towards the bottom corner of the lawn. Towards the Ginkgo Tree. The footprints come to a halt.

A little Robin Red Breast stands boldly on the cold, glittery grass, arching its head, to address the rising giant.

A loud silence fills the air. The little Robin hops closer, perching on the tree’s knobbly roots. Its tiny beak chirps……the silence gets louder……the Ginko considers the wee postulating creature……the silence intensifies…..then…at last, all is well…harmony prevails as the Robin Red Breast takes off, spiralling upwards, playfully twirling in and around the giants welcoming branches. All is bright.

The Longest Night

It’s Dusk. A single snowflake drops delicately downwards towards Earth, floating precariously with the light breeze, hovering over thousands of orangey-yellow iridescent lights. A dark, imposing, organic shape
appears amongst the opalescent illuminations. As the little snowflake descends, the contours of the mysterious formation slowly expand, revealing a vast landscape surrounded by an abundance of diverse
dense foliage. On entering the grounds, the snowflake gravitates towards the long strip of land. Downwards it falls, steadily descending, prepares to land, then settles safely on the glistening grass.

The little Robin perched up high, shivers as it quietly looks on as more and more fragile crystals parachute by, filling the air with a kaleidoscope of colliding snowflakes forever freely falling. The wind picks up. More
and more frozen flakes are boisterously launched into the air in a sustained onslaught. Myriads of sparkling fragments hurriedly jostle for space, propelling bursts of snow into every nook and cranny. No corner is spared. Then, when the biting gusts of wind, at last, relent, the hail slows up, until, eventually, the invasion finally ceases. The quiet returns.

The Robin peeps out from its shelter. All is clear. The landing is complete. The slumbering garden is now thickly blanketed by soft, pure, white snow. All is calm.

A full moon illuminates the newly colonised terrain. The lunar light diffuses a cool, serene glow over the opulent gardens. The undulating snow softly cloaks the clusters of huddling bushes. Branches bend with lilting leaves. The undergrowth is hidden out of sight. As the last snowdrop falls to earth, the tranquil evening moonlight blesses the winters night. The long, untouched lawn elegantly emerges evenly covered, edge to edge, with a thick coating of soft, fresh, snow. Up above in the clear night sky, the Ginkgo tree is eloquently silhouetted by an aurora of celestial light, as a constellation of stars twinkle brightly in celebration of the solar resurrection. It’s the longest night.

The long silent night encloses in on the world. The Earth is at rest. The garden is sound asleep. The evening is still, quiet, at peace.

Reaching upward, the Ginkgo tree embraces The Heavens. The surrounding ensemble bows as the ethereal cycle unfolds. The tree’s outstretching branches herald the Transformation of Time.

It is a time of change. Seasons change. Dark gives to light. Night to day. What was dormant, will now grow. As the night passes and eventually draws to a close, the passage of Time will bequest its gift to Creation. The hidden world will awaken to the unveiling of the divine light of dawn, radiating with the essence of the suns’ warming presence, that shall transfigure a new beginning, a new day, a new life.

How to enjoy sunshine all summer at The Hidden Gardens

150715 make sun last all summer

It was a great day in the Gardens, with lots of people out enjoying the sun. We wish the sunshine would last all summer, but…

…here’s a way to enjoy the sunny Gardens, even in rain!

Materials required:
*Sunglasses/regular glasses
*Scissors
*Blu-tac
*2x beautiful shots of The Hidden Gardens in the sun

1. Cut out photos
2. Stick in glasses
3. Done!

It will be summer all year long in our administrator’s eyes!

Get rid of slugs (in a nice way, of course!)

Some all natural slug traps in situ at The Hidden Gardens
Some all natural slug traps in situ at The Hidden Gardens

This isn’t (as our administrator may have thought) how oranges grow, but rather a great way to deal with slugs.

Simply halve an orange, hollow it out, and put it round side up into your soil. Slugs will crawl into these wee domes overnight, so you can simply pick up the oranges the next morning and relocate the slugs far away from your precious plants. Birds love to eat these guys, so if you’ve a bird table you could offer them some limace à l’orange!

Just… don’t relocate them to The Hidden Gardens, okay?

How many birds are in The Hidden Gardens?

Great photo of some blue tits in the willow by Lesley McCue, volunteer and photographer extraordinaire!
Great photo of some blue tits in the willow by Lesley McCue, volunteer and photographer extraordinaire!

Some days in the Gardens it seems there are only pigeons here, but we’re actually home to a lot of birds. Bird expert Mark came along to chart all the birds in the Gardens. How many of the following have you seen?

Probable breeders within the gardens:

Great tit
Blue tit
Goldfinch
Greenfinch
Blackbird
Wren
Blackcap
Bullfinch
Robin
Willow warbler
Dunnock

Other birds recorded, but no evidence of breeding based on today’s visit:

Coal tit
Long-tailed tit
Lesser black-backed gull
Magpie
Feral pigeon
Starling

How many can you find? Let us know!

Here's a long tailed tit taken by Lesley.
Here’s a long tailed tit taken by Lesley.