As I mentioned a few days ago I have invested in a new propagator mainly to keep my miniature orchids and Lithops (living stones) safe and happy during the Winter in my unheated conservatory:
This is a Vitopod Large heated propagator, double height. I also have an extra set of parts to add a third section to the height if any plants get too large for the present set up. Size is 38 x 110 x 39 cm high. A heating element is built in the base which I was surprised to find is only 100W but seems to be very efficient. Unlike most of the rather flimsy ones I have had in the past this is made from substantial UV treated plastic with plenty of adjustable ventilation on both top and sides.
Though the propagator comes with its own controller to maintain the temperature I decided to use my home made one which is a bit more versatile. I have set that up to maintain the minimum temperature between 12 and 15C. It's the black box underneath which is only showing the number 3 as the digits are multiplexed (shown briefly in very quick succession) so the fast camera speed only saw one digit.
No, not a new batch of underwear. Just looking forward as all the Cymbidium orchid plants I repotted some time ago are now producing spikes. At the speed they grow it will probably be Spring before some blooms open.
First a miniature Cymbidium which I have had only a few months has one bud soon to open:
It, along with my other miniature orchids, reside in a new propagator.
More about that another day.
My four large Cymbidium plants in spike:
This is the one I showed near the end of last year when I expected to see it flower in the new year:
This one with a spike which looks as though it will have several flowers:
One plant has two spikes:
Finally one which has just started producing a spike.
Hard to spot it is horizontal near the centre of the photo:
What I am looking forward to. A photo I took last year:
A couple of days ago I spotted a small group of Long-tailed Tits flitting about a tree in the garden behind me. I tried several times to photograph them but, true to type, they didn't stay in one place for very long.
In case you are struggling - start with the central one which is in flight. Another is almost hidden a short distance away at 4 o'clock. The third is standing on its head with tail straight up in the air further away at 10 o'clock
From time to time a resounding thump from the kitchen will let me know another bird has flown straight into the window. Why?
Depending on lighting conditions as they take off the reflected scene can look as though they are flying towards the safety of the greenery which is actually behind them.
Thinking of safe places for animal life I have recently noticed the importance of natures corridors. For us to freely move around a corridor is an open space, a footpath, bridal way or similar cleared lane through the countryside. For wildlife the opposite is needed. They need the shelter and safety of trees, bushes and undergrowth. Somewhere to hide quickly from danger. My new next door neighbours cut down many of the overgrown bushes which grew their side of our dividing fence. My bird feeders are near that fence. Since the disappearance of a nearby safe place to retreat when danger threatens I have noticed a large reduction in the variety of bird life visiting my garden. All the locals still visit - Blackbirds, House Sparrows and Starlings make up well over 95%. There is the occasional Robin, Blue Tit, Coal Tit or Chaffinch but even the Great Tits seem to have deserted my garden. I will have to try moving the bird table to different places to see where the other birds feel safer when visiting.
I'm beginning to think my back garden will never dry out. Though it only rains occasionally with the odd heavy downpour creating a temporary aquatic scene ...
.. it never seems to dry out. The lawn is sodden and walking across it leaves muddy footprints. The only ones enjoying it are the Blackbirds taking advantage of the worms and grubs driven to the surface.
There is an old hanging basket behind my garden clock. It rarely receives any direct sunlight so the Echeveria growing in it are being swamped by the moss which loves those conditions:
At least we are ice and snow free at the moment (whispered quietly so as not to tempt providence).
For Christmas Penny received two new cuddly toys. A Dylan Dog with a built in squeaker. She got fed up with it as I could make it squeak but she couldn't. The problem is the squeaker moves around inside the body. The 'Shake a Fox Toy' she loves. A rather strange looking beast as the head and rump are padded and the centre of the body is empty. That is how it was designed. She loves throwing it around the room and pouncing on it:
She has quite a pile of cuddly toys now and finds they make a great pillow on which to rest her weary head after an energetic day supervising: