Six on Saturday: Cherries and chiffchaffs in a wildlife friendly cottage garden

A few weeks back I mentioned hoping that friendly bees would pop by and pollinate the cherry tree, and I’m pleased to see they have! Cherries are forming on the tree, and so I guess there is another cherry tree somewhere within bee commuting range. According to the British Beekeepers Association, that’s usually about a mile. Some cherries need to be pollinated to produce fruit, and this variety, called Hedellfinger, is one of them. I’ve only had this tree for two years and this is the first time it’s fruited, and I’m hoping they’ll be tasty and that we get to eat a few before the birds devour them.

The next of my updates for this week’s Six on Saturday is the exciting news that birds have started to splash about in the shallow end of the pond, rather like we hoped they would. So far, blackbirds, robins and pigeons have had a little dip. They seem to be the boldest garden birds. The tits and wrens are more reticent.

At the front of the pond is Gog, a carved wooden figure we bought at Wells market a couple of weeks ago. We got two of these carvings from the market, naming them Gog and Magog, after the legendary British giants and ancient Glastonbury Trees. Gog guards the pond, and Magog looks after the toolshed. Davina the cat seems fond of Magog, and likes to sit by him in front of the pond. Birds do not bathe while Davina is present.

We’ve seen and heard chiffchaffs in the garden. They visit the birdfeeders hanging in the apple trees, and I’ve had a couple of close encounters with them while sat under these trees. Seeing a chiffchaff up close is spectacular, they have lovely soft grey and yellow colouring, eyes that are somehow bright and dark, and a manner that I like to consider curious and quirky. I’ve no photos, but here’s one by Amanda Ellis from the RSPB community board that looks a lot like what I saw…

That’s four garden things and I’ve not even got to the flowers yet! So heres a collection of dianthus, cottage pinks and sweet william (If I was a better gardener i’d know more about the differences between them. Sweet william are smaller I guess). I absolutely love these blooms and they have a wonderful scent. Once they get going, and if you keep picking and deadheading, a cottage pink plant can produce beautiful scented blooms for months and months, so its no surprise they’re traditionally so popular in cottage gardens. I’ve got a few stems in a vase and the scent fills the room.

Probably miscounting, my fifth garden thing this week is the treacleberry, and a big bee. I believe this plant is leycesteria formosa, aka himalayan honeysuckle, aka treacleberry. Its a huge and fabulous plant, and at this time of year the flowers are a bee magnet. Later in the year, it forms treacle coloured berries, which the birds love to eat.

My sixth and final selection for this week is the freshly pruned fig, in front of the treacleberry. My marvellous husband has tidied and pruned this fig, cutting away the lower foliage to show of it’s ‘crazy legs crane’ looking stems. Over the past couple of years he has done a lot of pruning, in what was a very overgrown garden. Cutting back the lower branches and stems, leaving the top half or third of the plant really improves the appearance.

I could go on about another sixty garden things, but I’ll leave it for now and see what other people’s gardens have got going on this week. Visit the propagators blog or search #SixOnSaturday to see for yourself.

As always, I hope your plans and plants are doing well.

Jen x

One thought on “Six on Saturday: Cherries and chiffchaffs in a wildlife friendly cottage garden

  1. ‘Bing’ cherries were a main crop in the orchards around Sunnyvale. I barely remember them, since most of those orchards were gone by my time. What was weird about them was that my generation remembers ‘only’ the ‘Bing’ cherries. We do not remember the pollinators. There must have been some remaining somewhere, but we do not remember seeing them. A long time ago, there were only two or three other cultivars of sweet cherries. One was ‘Queen Anne’, although it was uncommon. I really do not remember who pollinated who, or which cultivar was matched with the ‘Bing’.


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