You find me in reflective mood. Maybe it is because of the drizzle outside in what has been an unrelentingly grey and gloomy week; maybe it is because we are all coming to terms with the prospect of the revised tier system and the Christmas rules.
Whatever the reason, I'm counting my blessings. My natural blessings. I feel so incredibly grateful that the wildlife in and around my garden has given me such a wealth of happiness and distraction while everything has been going on.
For example, my 'mini meadow' was colonised by day-flying Six-spot Burnet moths this summer, which took a fancy to all the Bird's-foot Trefoil I had been growing for them. It is almost the only thing their caterpillars will eat, and then the adults drink nectar at the Common Knapweed flowers blooming above.
Ok, don't tell the Burnet Moths, but actually my first target with the Bird's-foot Trefoil was the Common Blue butterfly, whose caterpillars also like a trifle of trefoil for lunch. They, too, brightened up many a day for me in the garden. Who needs precious gems excavated in some distant mine when you've got these beauties?!
The garden has also provided many moments of drama, such as when this male Saprrowhawk came and sat outside my study window while I was busy on a Zoom meeting and gave me some Paddington stares.
Wildlife is also good for a bit of a laugh, too. Take this Wool Carder Bee, for example, in my flower border. It's a fine looking insect with particularly natty long fluffy boots and black and yellow lycra leggings.
But what happens if you're a Wool Carder Bee and you've got a terrible itchy? Well, you do some double-jointed contortions, put one leg right behind your back, and have a right old scratch. (Takes me back to when I used to be able to do that). Ooh, that feels better!
And there are the cute moments, such as when this Fox cub appeared in the garden, barely a few weeks old. Don't worry, his mum came to collect him, dragged off by the scruff of his neck, the little scoundrel.
And I'm not going to finish a piece about what the garden gives me without an honorary mention to my best buddies out there, my constant companions whenever I'm digging or weeding, the ones who serenade all my activities with my own personal concert. Thanks Mr & Mrs Robin!
Nature gives so much in so many ways, and this year more than ever. From the contents of my e-postbag, I get the feeling it is the same for so many of you.
It has got me thinking about all the things I can do to give a little more back. The completion of my next pond is top of the list.
But it is not just in the garden: I'm actively trying to push my reduction of single-use plastics to the minimum.
And this year I bought some plants from a nursery only to then spot hundreds of bags of pure peat from the Baltic in their plant preparation area. Well, from now on, I will be asking any plant shop I visit if they only use peat-free compost, and politely explaining why I cannot buy from them if they don't.
It feels the least I can do!
The RSPB writes: One thing you might like to do is buy one of Adrian's best-selling books from the RSPB shop, here and here, for yourself or for friends and family for Christmas (we're not going to ask him to promote his own creations!). All the profits go to conservation when you buy from the RSPB, and we're sure you'll love them and get huge amounts of pleasure, ideas and knowledge from them.
We spend 90% of net income on conservation, public education and advocacy
The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International. Find out more about the partnership
© The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654
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