Signs of Life

It’s mid January so it’s mid winter here in the UK. It’s been milder than usual here in West Lancashire with temperatures hovering around 8°C-10 °C during the day. I’m not surprised to see that there are signs of life in the garden already. Patches of bare earth have fresh green seedlings and spring bulbs are already poking their noses through the dark earth too.


I’ve been raking up leaves again. Each time I do it I tell myself that this is the last time until next autumn but then I find another sheltered place where fallen leaves have gathered. This time I uncovered three trays of plants in 1L pots. I’d forgotten all about them and was delighted to discover lots of lovely Aquilegia produced from seed. I was amazed to see new growth despite them being covered with a good 10cm / 4 inches of wet leaves for the past three to four months.


These are McKanna Hybrids which have beautiful long spurred flowers in shade of pink, white and yellow. I used them for cut flowers last year so I’m very happy that I have another 30 plants to add to our Spring Garden. They don’t look much at the moment but I can already imagine how beautiful they’ll be. Here’s some in a vase last spring.


At first glance things in the garden look bleached and there are dead stalks and leaves everywhere. Closer inspection reveals fresh shoots and buds on many plants. According to the Met Office temperatures are set to drop a little this weekend and it’s possible we may have more frost in February so I’ll leave the final tidy up until then. I like to be sure that our wild visitors have places to shelter and seeds to eat.


Our pond is no exception. We have Bullrushes and Iris which are clinging on to their crispy old leaves. A pair of Moorhens nest here each spring and raise three broods of chicks. They use the strap-like leaves to construct a new nest each time raising it out of the water by weaving layers of dry leaves and fresh pliable new leaves together. Today three wild Mallard ducks were inspecting the pond. They grub around in the mud at the base of the plants for insect larvae to eat and like to shelter in the dead foliage too. There are foxes around here so a safe place to rest is essential for them. You can just about make out the soggy remains of a duck nest at the bottom right of the photo above.



I’m feeling excited because I can see the potential. We’ve had some grey and dismal days but things are already Looking Good in the garden for a burst of life everywhere this spring.

Are there signs of life in your garden this week?looking-good-guidelines - Copy
Perhaps some new seedlings, buds or wildlife?

You are most welcome to join in with Looking Good each Friday.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. Gillian 🙂

13 thoughts on “Signs of Life

  1. How exciting to discover new, but forgotten plants!

    You’re garden seems to be at the same stage as mine which I’m surprised at as I am near the Norfolk/Suffolk Border and you are further North than me.

    I, too, have still not finished clearing the leaves yet! It’s helping that I have a leaf blower and a new purple ‘horse’ wheelbarrow that tips and holds loads more than the normal ones!

    My highlights at the moment are the increasing aconites and snowdrops pushing their way through the ground every day and the many buds on my hellebores!

    1. Oh this happens every year to me Sandra. I grow lots of plants from seed and I’m always finding a tray of something I just couldn’t squeeze in! It’s amazing that our gardens are waking up at the same time isn’t it?

  2. This post is filled with hope! Those aquilegia thrived when ignored, which I love. What a fun find! When mallards return to our little pond, it’s a welcome sign spring is on the way. None here yet, but we are thawing nicely and tips of earliest bulbs greeted me yesterday. Enjoy all that beauty.

  3. Hi Gillian. It’s lovely to see some views of your garden and what wonderful wildlife. I can relate to finding seeds etc under leaves – amazing what we forget we’ve done. Those aquilegia will be stunning.
    I’m down in the S.West and we’ve had several heavy frosts over the last few days which will slow the growth a bit

    1. Thanks very much for visiting and commenting Sue. We haven’t had much in the way of frost here at all this winter. It’s forecast for the next couple of days but we are lucky to be in a sheltered spot so it’s not likely to be too cold here. I hope it’s not too harsh for you and your garden.

  4. Gillian What a wonderful surprise to find the Aquilegias! I love. It is good that you have two pairs of wild ducks hanging around the pond to make their nest. And the cocks of water that usually come every year to nest. So much wildlife in a garden is wonderful. I’m glad your bulbs are waking up. I am now in Madrid not in my country house, but two days ago it was at 8:00 pm at -8 ° C. There is no life in my garden. Greetings from Margarita.

    1. That’s cold Margarita! I know Madrid is very hot in summer and very cold at this time of year. We’ve seen Spanish ladies with their fur coats on in Madrid in winter. I hope you keep warm!

    1. It’s quite strange here Liz. Some things seem more advanced and there’s more winter blossom than ever… yet our snowdrops are a good two or three weeks later than usual.

  5. Hi Gillian – apologies for my absence of late 🙁 It is lovely to see your beautiful garden. Your pond is gorgeous and huge! It must be wonderful to see all the wildlife that visit it. How exciting to find all the little Aquilegias! I would love to grow them here but I think I would have to treat them as annuals as they would probably melt in our summer heat! I plan on joining in with your Friday meme occasionally – just have to get myself organized!

    1. Thanks for visiting Kate. It’s true our pond is quite large… it’s actually part of our sewerage treatment plant which the clean water runs into. Apparently it’s so clean by the time it arrives in the pond that it’s drinkable. We haven’t tried that for obvious reasons but the wildlife are very happy in there so that’s good. It would be lovely if you could join in with Looking Good on Fridays. I need to get myself organized too!

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