<![CDATA[A Celebration of Nature - Blog]]>Tue, 23 Feb 2016 10:35:27 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[My Garden]]>Mon, 20 Aug 2012 13:22:08 GMThttp://www.laurablackwood.com/blog/my-garden Picture
A great source of inspiration while creating ‘A Celebration of Nature’ was conveniently on my doorstep – my garden!

 This large and semi wild (but still a lot of work) garden is a cross between the usual ingredients; lawns, flowerbeds and vegetables etc., and woodland habitats where flowers, birds and insects can be seen in their natural surroundings. It’s been an invaluable resource for the book

Its proximity to a lively river gives it a lot of character - the constant sound of the water running over the rocks in the background. There are a considerable variety of trees, amongst which the house is situated, making it a brilliant hide for watching numerous birds as well as red squirrels.

Most of the garden is set on a steep slope, which creates dynamic effects of the light where the foliage is lit from beneath in the morning, and from above later in the day. It’s structured by terraces, steps (keeping one fit), and many winding paths through the woodland which add a sense of mystery and encourage exploration. There are tantalizing glimpses of the sparkling river through the trees and strategically placed seats invite moments of contemplation.

But it’s not all peace and quiet. The garden is also home to the famous Alpine Croquet tournaments and there are many celebrations starting on our homemade island in the river and ending with lunch on the central balcony, with its ‘troée’ through to the river.

Recently the ‘Beechgrove Garden’ came to film here, of course choosing the worst and wettest of summers. They hoped to film flowers and plants featured in the August chapter of the book but lots of things hadn’t flowered, had been eaten or drowned, and I managed to fell the only cranesbill flower with my strimmer just before they arrived. However, it was a fantastic day and a wonderful (if somewhat nerve-wracking) experience overall, the team were great and it was a privilege to be featured on such a well-known programme.

Since they came some of the absentee plants have made an appearance so I thought it might be nice to include some pictures of them in retrospect.

<![CDATA[July 19th, 2012]]>Thu, 19 Jul 2012 17:13:43 GMThttp://www.laurablackwood.com/blog/july-19th-2012 Picture
Red Squirrel - part 2

We now have three squirrels which we think are immature siblings. Two are a rich chestnut red, one with ear tufts and the other without. The third is blonder and more timid and possibly in less good condition.

The opportunity to feed them intensely with mainly hazelnuts at a time when food is scarce for them, is brilliant - especially when the weather has been so poor. Today two of them were in close proximity on the bird table and we could hear their conversational squeaking as they took it in turns to take nuts from the feeder. 

<![CDATA[July 5th, 2012]]>Thu, 05 Jul 2012 08:56:46 GMThttp://www.laurablackwood.com/blog/july-5th-2012 Picture
Red Squirrel
"A recent and most welcome visitor to my window-sill bird table is a  red squirrel. With its distinctive pointed ear tufts, it is much smaller and more delicate than its originally grey cousin. It comes at dawn to breakfast on hazelnuts and is a real joy to watch so closely."

Many people know the story of the red squirrel who used to come and visit the bird table next to where I paint. I am delighted to announce that in the last few weeks we have spotted not one but two young squirrels raiding the bird feeder, occasionally almost getting stuck. I made the little box feeder (which they quickly learnt  to use) to help keep the blue and great tits from taking the nuts. and this morning there were three all visible at once. This is really good news.

<![CDATA[June 6th, 2012]]>Wed, 06 Jun 2012 14:40:18 GMThttp://www.laurablackwood.com/blog/june-6th-2012
In celebration of “A Celebration of Nature” coming out in print, I offer this blog as a journal of some of my observations of nature, as it unfolds in and around my garden. I hope it inspires you to begin to look and notice too...

   Great Spotted Woodpecker

In early spring the evocative sound of loud hammering on tree trunks by this native bird can be heard resounding in all types of woodland. They hammer to make nest holes, and a ritualised speeded-up version is a form of communication described as drumming. For this they choose hollow resonant tree trunks and can produce 23-24 pecks per second.”

As I sit at my painting desk, this woodpecker comes to visit the bird feeder right outside my window. 

   The Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas)

I love to watch these ancient plants unfurl at this time of year, knowing that soon the undergrowth will be full of them.

Ferns and horsetails are among the most primitive forms of plant life that flourished 2-3 million years ago...
Ferns have leaves known as fronds which unfurl from tight coils in late May. The spores are produced on the underside of the leaf and they contain male and female structure. When ripe the spore falls to the ground, and with the help of water becomes fertilised, enabling a new plant to develop.”

   Lawn Bee 

 “Lawn Bee – Early in spring, after mating, the female burrows up to 2ft/60cm deep to make several cells which she fills with pollen on which she lays her eggs. After sealing them she returns to the surface to die. They are solitary bees but will form colonies”

I was sitting on my garden swing, basking in the glorious sunshine last week, when I noticed at my feet these tiny little holes in the ground. They are the burrows of the lawn bee. A few months ago I saw a lone female lawn bee being swamped by the attentions of a huge number of males, and considered that perhaps her life wasn't so sad after all...


From 'Days Eye' as the flower opens and closes according to the degree of light. It can flower at any time of the year, but from late spring onwards lovely carpets of daisies are a common sight.”

I was told as child that if you could put your foot over a patch of 12 daisies then summer was here. My feet don't quite cover them, perhaps I'll go and ask my husband's size 12 feet to try.