Feeling guilty about my birds.
So I'm feeling guilty - because that's exactly what I did. I've been avidly feeding the birds all summer - and fighting the squirrels off. And then I went away on holiday for a coupla weeks and the squirrels got into the feed box and wrecked it. So I have not yet got back into the routine and the poor birds have gone without.
I'm not such a sinner, though, according to one of my guests this morning, who's a horticulture and bird expert from Thatcham Garden Centre, because I've got plenty of berry and fruit-bearing trees and shrubs in my garden.
Karen Coleman, who was telling me about Wild Bird Care Fortnight, said I should get back to putting out seeds and dried mealworms (I can't bear to deal with the live ones!) for the robins, and if I want to try attracting gold finches ( which are coing to Britain right now, to get away from the cold winters of Northern Europe, Karen reckons I should plant verbena boneriensis. That's a job for next Spring, though! Until then, I also caught a snatch of Gardener's Question Time on Sunday, where they were telling everyone to start planting sweet peas. Reminds me of the one time I met media magnate and interior design and gardening goddess, Martha Stewart.
I was interviewing her on Good Morning With Anne and Nick, about her new book - a gardening bible which tells you, month by month, what you could be doing in the garden. It was ( and still is, because I still have it and love leafing through it) a delightful guide to the perfect gardening lifestyle - with the most fantastic pictures of Martha's unbelievably perfectionist Connecticut home, with gorgeous house and breathtaking gardens. She was very much into sweet pea growing, so that she'd always have them as wonderful cut flowers in the summer.
I tried so hard to do a Martha Stewart with my sweet peas but never quite managed anything but a few pathetic stems. Inspired by Gardener's Question Time, I'm going to have another go. Apparently you can either sow them in the early Spring - or now, and harden them up through the winter for planting out in the Spring. Here goes - another challenge! I'll let you know how it goes!