Ugh, it’s June. As several people have said, including without fail me every year, June is just rubbish. In birding terms it holds virtually nothing to get excited about whether you live on the coast or do your birding inland. I suppose an exception would be if you happen to live near a seabird colony, but for most of us there is not a lot going on. In truth I gave up about ten days ago, about two thirds of the way into May I decided that June had arrived early and curtailed my early-morning forays. Then last weekend I finally bagged Red Kite for the year and so have been able to hang up my binoculars until August.
So now I have to somehow survive about two months of bird-free life. What to do, what to do? Many people struggle, as evidenced by pretending to be interested in butterflies and so on. I have no such worries as I suffer from a surfeit of hobbies at the best of times, and an enforced break from one of the biggest ones is actually a welcome chance to invest some energy in something else. Traditionally many birders dust off their macro lenses around now, and I may start doing that too, but for now I’ve been enjoying an extra two hours in bed every morning. I am getting itchy feet however, and the garden is beginning to get my attention. Now I am not a big gardener, indeed for all the years I’ve lived in Wanstead the garden has just been there and has largely looked after itself. Every now and again we pay a guy to come and hack it back, but as a family we’ve taken very little interest in it. This year however there are some big plans afoot, and the first of these actually caused me to dig out the fork and spade that have been gently rusting away in the shed for the decade since we moved here. Prior to that they rusted gently in my old shed in Becktonia, but last week I actually used them! If spades could speak you would have heard this one squeal with pleasure as it was sunk into the soil for the first time this century.
Needless to say my back still aches, but the main goal has been accomplished – about 150kg of sand, grit, gravel and perlite has been dug into a bed near the terrace which will become a tropical oasis. Up until now I have been banned from planting anything exciting in the garden. This is grossly unfair as it is not like Mrs L does any gardening. Nonetheless rules are rules, so all my exciting plants have remained in pots and make an annual appearance on the terrace and dotted around the garden. What do you mean? Of course plants can be exciting! Now however I have permission to actually plant some out and I am wasting no time in doing so before she changes her mind. Here is the area in question, it is only about 3ft x 10ft and being a bit of a softy I had no idea that simply digging in a bit of substrate to improve drainage would be quite as back-breaking. Happily the worst is now over – I reckon a further few sacks of gravel and sand ought to do it and then I can sculpt it into a slope and get planting. Maybe Chelsea is rubbing off on me after all? Anyway, stand by for the “after” photos!