My first big day in the garden this year today. Cleared the mole heaps off the lawns, divided the veratrums, pruned some of the hydrangeas, transplanted a few shrubs and cleaned the moss out of the turf I bought from the Welsh Rugby Union after the great 11-9 victory over England in the last grand slam season. Do you remember the game? The pitch cut up so badly that it was sold off in squares to raise funds in memory of Brent Cockbain's baby who died that year aged one. I bought a square and it has pride of place in our garden. We live near the Wales/England border and if you stand on this square, you look out onto our oldest and dearest neighbours with fondness and happy memories of great games played between our national teams - or you can just stand there, remember the 11-9 scoreline, and salute worthy opponents in a time honoured way.
More gardening tonight. I chaired a Gardener's Question Time at Carno Community Centre for Montgomeryshire Women's Institute. There were questions about why the berries on a callicarpa shrivel and drop, (too dry) and how to grow a Monkey Puzzle Tree. (Why on earth would you want to is what said). I was one up on the panellists in that I've managed to grow a Chilean Flame Tree (embothrium) in our garden. They are difficult to get going but wonderfully satisfying if you can. Or you can save yourself the bother, and just go to Bodnant in June.
And today's Telegraph had a half page on our most common garden birds. Not surprised to see the Goldfinch in the top ten for the first time. Its only recently that this spectacular little bird has wintered in any significant numbers where we live. We have one bird feeder with little black seeds especially for Goldfinches. My favourite bird feeder visitors are the Greater Spotted Woodpecker and the Nuthatch. They go for it with such incredible vigour. I also love it when a group of long tailed tits pass through. Even though they help themselves quite voraciously to whats on offer, they never seem to come back for more the next day. They must be stupid - bird brains I suppose. I'm hoping for a few more hours in the garden tomorrow as well, weather permitting.