Posted by: Linda Proud | March 25, 2013

Feeding all the birds

In the past few weeks we’ve stopped talking about the weather. We’ve each withdrawn into a personal misery which is national. Lately gardeners have begun to admit that we’re up against it. Usually we try and beef each other up with, ‘Oh, they’ll recover!’ or ‘Just start late – they’ll all catch up!’ but as day follows bleak day we’re now beginning to doubt. Like the plants whose sap has frozen in the veins, we lie limply over each day wondering what to do to take our minds off things. The list of jobs to do in the garden grows ever longer and I watch the always-sunny  ‘Gardeners’ World’ at serious risk of depression.

We’re lucky down here in central south. Up in the north, and in Ulster, where the power has failed, they are really suffering. Nevertheless, we feel the misery.

My greenhouse can take no more in. Like a lifeboat after a ship has gone down, it’s denying access to those equally worthy but arriving just too late. Brussel sprout and tomato seedlings, ousted from the house where it is too warm for them now, stand in rigid shock on greenhouse staging, while other seedlings still on the windowsill await their fate. Potatoes refusing to chit are taking up most of the space, and in fact I’ll move them today into the summerhouse. It’s a bit dark in there but I have no other option. Who knows when we’ll be planting them. It certainly won’t be on the traditional day of Good Friday.

Yesterday was so cold and so grey. It was peculiarly silent. The birds didn’t come to the feeders. There was no traffic. No one — or just a few hardy dog-owners — walked on the meadow. Today it’s a bit livelier. The goldfinches are back in their numbers (the feeders can take eight at a time, and we’ve seen as many waiting their turn in the fruit trees) but the blue tits, so decimated by last year’s weather, have become as rare as sparrows. David shooed off a couple of rooks this morning. I’m glad that amongst humans we have not got to the stage where we only feed the pretty and the tuneful. Or have we? (See below).

This is Holy Week and in my experience the weather is always bad, and then it brightens up at the weekend, but the forecasters say this is set to run on into April. What will happen to the fruit harvest if we lose the blossom? What will happen to the bees? They say that the numbers of UK butterflies are now so low that as many as eleven species are threatened with extinction. People say, Oh, everything will sort itself out in time, and perhaps it will, but the historian in me shivers, knowing that these are times of famine.

I’m sorry to add to the gloom with this clip, but we do need to be aware of what is going on in the name of ‘economy’ in this nation.

If you feel moved to do so, The Trussell Trust are asking for the donation of the cost of an Easter Egg to help combat hunger in the UK. Yep. You heard me. HUNGER IN THE UK.


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