Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Of Cranes, Dames and .... hanging baskets

Somewhere in the recesses of my mind was a saying. Never work with animals of children. The latter I happily avoid, but the former is pretty much a constant in my life.

Take yesterday. I was up with the larks and heading to WWT's Slimbridge for work to record a piece for Saving Species, on the Great Crane Project, a partnership reintroduction project to bring Cranes back to the Somerset Levels, later this year.

And yes that is me holding that fluffy thing. So I know what is going through your heads. Why are those 4 people dressed like nuclear power station workers. Well it's obvious isn't it? It was Paris Fashion Week!!

Actually we were dressed like this as we were in the Crane School enclosure where the hatched chicks are being carefully raised without any human imprinting prior to being released in August. and below is one of the inmates. Another ahhh cute photo on the blog. And after recording at Slimbridge, we headed down to the Somerset Levels to record their ultimate destination at their release area.

It is such a pleasure to be given access to such projects which aim to bring much needed biodiversity into the British countryside. It's 400 years since Cranes last bred in Britain, but with luck down on the Somerset Levels from this autumn, the plaintiff cry of cranes coming in to roost of an evening will be hard. It's hoped 23 birds will be released this year, with similar numbers in the following 4 years. We'll be back then to record what happens when the birds arrive here....... and no sorry, I can't be more specific as to the location for obvious reasons, sadly, but here's a photo from my Blackberry of a mute swan and cygnets taken yesterday near to the location.

So that was the day job. The weekend job is man of action and intrigue. Or at least that's what I try and think of myself as. Actually what it often is, and I love it, is man of gardening. Saturday was again grass cutting and hedge tidying at a client's of Julie's; but on Sunday after a leisurely morning (we went to the Polly Tea rooms in Marlborough for a scrambled egg breakfast - I love doing that) Julie began on some more hanging baskets for clients.

Now this is where it gets scary...... for you the dear reader. I'd recommend those of you with a nervous disposition, look away now and do not read on further.

Julie is a consummate packer of plants into baskets. All spring she nurtures her plug plants and then in May and June populates wire baskets, such as the half finished one below.

Being a man I thought to myself while watching her from the comfort of a lounger and drinking beer shandy, "that looks simple, I could do this, it can't be that difficult". So I offered to make her a hanging basket for herself, after all after all this hard work nurturing and bringing on her babies (as she calls them), it would be a shame if she didn't have her own basket to admire in the summer sun.

I set to with an unwanted tray of lobelia. Visions throbbed through my mind, a veritable riot of colour, a basket packed with so many plants a cigarette paper wouldn't be able to pass between the foliage. Designers of Chelsea gardens would come knocking at my door for my services. Julie would be mightly impressed and we'd be delighted for months by my creation.

It isn't as easy as it looks.

Many a lobelia clump became detached from it's roots. Not ideal for further growth. The compost kept falling out of the basket when I made the holes for the plants. After half an hour I had more compost and foliage on the lawn than in the basket. I was exhausted. I was frazzled. And very quiet. Julie said she's not seen me this quiet for so long, ever. And in the time it took me to half fill a basket, she had made up 2 baskets. This is too much. I persevered, and as ever when I concentrate hard, my tongue stuck out from my mouth (why do we do this?). Eventually, I'd used up all the lobelia and stood back to marvel at the foliage rich vision I'd produced.

Go on, admit you are absolutely astounded ?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

I'll stick to making radio programmes and cutting grass I think.


  1. Yesssss, astounded. That's the word that comes to mind! ;-)

  2. I'm glad you are astounded Wilma

  3. I'll be kind and say it will grow into something beautiful! Thank you for identifying the webs on the hedge...I am greatly relieved they are not giant spiders!

  4. Ahhahh thank you Lynn..... I'm sure with a bit of TLC it's look almost respectable