It’s hard to believe that the garden was buried beneath a thick blanket of snow a little over a week ago. Today, the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and it’s beginning to feel like the landscape is slowly stirring back to life.
Pockets of snowdrops, crocuses and primroses are suddenly blooming beneath the fruit trees.
We’ve spotted a robin building his nest, our bird feeders have been chock-a-block with sparrows, tits, finches and starlings, and we’ve never seen so many blackbirds scavenging among the flowerbeds. We also managed to get our bird boxes up this afternoon. It’s been on our to-do list for the past week, so Ade put one back up in the hawthorn tree, a tried and tested site which proved popular with a family of blue tits last spring, and installed a new one in the pear tree. Within a couple of hours, there was blue tit activity around both of them! National Nestbox Week might be drawing to a close, but there’s still time to install some bird boxes in your garden before nesting season gets fully underway, and we’d highly recommend doing so. They’re easy to build, and it’s so heartwarming to see a pair of birds move in and build their nests, and then watch as their fledglings emerge a few weeks later!
Ade also noticed a large bumblebee in one of the crocuses this afternoon. It was huge – maybe even a queen. We were thrilled at first; the first bumblebee of the season! But when it didn’t move, we began to fear the worst. Ade prodded it and it slowly buried itself even deeper into the flower. I kept an eye on it for a while, just in case it was feeding, but it was barely moving, and after a time I began to wonder whether it had just woken up from its winter sleep and had managed to overexert itself on its first day of foraging.
The temperature outside had certainly dropped by this point, and although I’m not an expert, I know that bees can’t fly if their body temperature dips below a certain level, so I ended up taking the flower with the bee and bringing it into our utility room (which has also served as our bee hospital on countless occasions, owing to the boiler which keeps the room nice and toasty; perfect for rehabilitating cold, struggling bees!). At first, I was concerned I’d left it too late – it wasn’t moving at all. But I prepared some sugar water, and after a little feed, it began to gather its strength. Soon, it was wandering about, which I always take as a good sign. After ten minutes, with its energy revived and its body temperature restored, it gave a thunderous buzz and took to the air. I flung open the door and watched it disappear into the sky. Gotta look after the bees, people!
So, all in all, today was a busy day in the garden, for us and all the creatures we share it with. It really feels as though spring is just around the next corner, and I can’t wait!