Beautiful Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

We visited Lake Bohinj, Slovenia in early July 2011. The area is in the Triglav national park so remains relatively unspoiled. Lake Bohinj lies between Bohinj’s mountains, which rise from 1,600 to 2,000 meters, and is Slovenia`s largest glacial lake. It is 4.2 kilometers long, one kilometer wide, and forty-five meters deep.

One side of the lake is bounded by a road and the other side is bounded by a footpath. The first picture with the goat statue was taken from the road side and the others were taken from the footpath side.

Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

Click on the pictures below to see a larger version.

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Camellias blooming well

In spite of the hard winter our camellia shrubs have held on to their flower buds and are putting on a magnificent display. I guess it is a matter of timing as in much milder winters gone by a late frost has caused many of the buds to drop off. I have two camellia bushes against the garage wall and they provide a colourful sight from the kitchen window.

Camellia

Camellias

Is my compost bin a breeding ground for slugs?

We try to be as green as possible by recycling as much as we can. My large plastic compost bin is the method we use to recycle the fruit and vegetable waste. When I started composting I thought that it would be a wonderful source of compost for the garden. After using it for a couple of years I regard it as a magic bin. We keep feeding it with kitchen waste but the level seems to stay more or less the same.

I suspect that we are really feeding the local creepy crawly population. Since I am an idle gardener there is not a lot of garden waste goes in compared with kitchen waste, especially during the winter months.

I do remove a small amount of compost once a year to put on the vegitable patch. My worry is that it might be full of slugs eggs and the slugs will hatch out and go on a feeding fest.

Photograph looking into the bin.

During the summer the compost bin is definitely home to flies and slugs. Fortunately the lid is a good fit and they stay contained.

So my question is, am I keeping the slugs off the garden by keeping them well fed in the compost bin or am I breading a population of slugs that will eventually run wild and eat my runner bean plants?

When I was taking these photographs I moved some waste matter from the surface and was surprised to find a large amount of wiggly worms. I understand that this is a sign of a healthy compost bin. I know that people pay good money to purchase worms for composting but luckily for me these have appeared naturally. However, I do wonder what other creatures are lurking amongst the rotting waste.

A photo of the wiggly worms. Apologies if you are about to eat a meal.

The Great White Cherry and other spring flowers

When I opened the curtains this morning I was greeted by the beautiful sight of the cheery tree at the bottom of the garden. It was covered with white flowers set off to their magnificent best by a bright blue sky. It was a photo opportunity that could not be missed. It is Prunus Taihaku or Great White Cherry.

Prunus Taihaku or Great White Cherry

Whilst I was in the garden with my camera I snapped a few of the other spring flowers. I have tubs of Viola F1 Coconut Duet that were planted in the autumn and have been providing winter colour since then. In the past few weeks the blooms have multiplied and they are putting on a marvellous display. However, they are in danger of being overshadowed by the tulip plants that are now pushing their way through.

Viola F1 Coconut Duet

The Bergenia cordifolia is just starting to come into flower. My Bergenia plants originally came from my parent’s garden. My mother referred to them as Elephants luck but the usual common name is Elephant’s ears because of the large round leaves.

Bergenia cordifolia

Near the bottom of the garden is a delicate sprig of Chionodoxa. The bulbs came as part of a mixed bag that I planted in a tub a couple of years ago. When the bulbs finished flowering I planted them in a patch at the end of the garden.

Chionodoxa

My Camellias are just starting to flower. I have two bushes against the garage wall. There are lots of buds so there is the promise of a colourful show in the next couple of weeks. In some past years a late frost has caused many of the buds to drop of but hopefully that will not happen this year.

Camellia

Finally a miniature daffodil caught my eye. It is gallantly holding its own in a tub of relatively large tulip leaves. Its tiny trumpet is less than half an inch across but it is a welcome sight on a sunny spring day.

Miniature daffodil

Who’s been eating my primulas?

My primulas are in flower but something is making a meal of the petals. If it was slugs I would expect them to go for the leaves rather than the flowers. Or are the flowers extra tasty to a slug? Maybe the bright yellow colour is attracting the birds to have a peck although I haven’t seen any birds attacking them. Maybe there is some other creature that likes primula flowers. It is heartbreaking to see the well munched petals. Do you have any idea who might be doing it?

Update

March 23, 2011

Soon after I took the above photograph I sprinkled some slug pellets around the plants. The latest flowers are much less nibbled so I suspect that the culprit is a member of the slug family. There are no dead slugs to be seen so the creatures must be tiny enough to disappear from sight. I don’t like resorting to chemical methods but the directions on the packet say the pellets are safe for pets and birds if used sparingly.

After using slug pellets the new flowers are much less nibbled

Frogspawn and crocuses Spring is early in my garden

The frogs in my garden seem to think that spring is here even though it is only the last week in February. The frogs have been mating and frogspawn has appeared in our garden pond.

Lots of plants are coming to life and putting out new shoots. The crocuses were putting on such a brilliant display that I felt compelled to take some photographs of them.

Winter sunshine

“The sun has got his hat on Hip – hip – hip – hoo – ray!” in the words of the Noel Gay song from Me and My Girl. After days of overcast gloominess where we were putting the lights on a 2.00 o’clock in the afternoon a sunny day raises the spirits. In my garden the first of the spring bulbs are beginning to show. At the local lakes the leafless trees look magnificent in the winter sunshine.

WEEE Man at the Eden Project

One of the exhibits in the outside gardens of the Eden Project is a sculpture called WEEE Man. It is a robotic style monster made from everyday objects that we discard. Look carefully at the picture below and you will see washing machines, vacuum cleaners, televisions, computers and monitors embedded into his body. He is made up of 3.3 tonnes of waste material, representing the electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) an average UK citizen will throw away in a lifetime.

The sculpture was installed in 2005 and was recently given a makeover by his creator, contemporary artist Paul Bonomini, who added mobile phones and mp3 players to the body.

The good new is that recent UK Government legislation, making producers responsible for appliances at the end of their lives, has seen over 850,000 tonnes of WEEE collected for refurbishment and recycling.

Eden Project winter visit, the Mediterranean Biome

The entrance to the Mediterranean Biome is through an arch of pink bougainvillaea plants. It was cool compared to the Rainforest Biome (described in my previous post) and many people were returning to the cloakroom to collect their outdoor coats as soon as they realised.

The planting represents typical Mediterranean, South African and Californian gardens that have dry, thin soil. There were orange and grapefruit trees covered with ripe fruit. The Aloes were particularly impressive with their spiky succulent leaves and their tall red flowers. The Californian blossom tree was very pretty with its white flowers and orange stamens. Some man-made objects also caught my eye; a bright orange plant made from car exhaust pipes and some pigs made from driftwood. There were also some bronze figures representing Dionysus and other gods of the grape harvest.

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Eden Project winter visit, the Rainforest Biome

Our visit to the Eden Project took place on 5 January 2011. We arrived by coach in a shower of rain. The gardens and Biomes are built in a disused clay pit. This was our second visit, the first being in 2001 soon after the gardens opened to the public. A short downhill walk took us from the coach park to the entrance. Thankfully much of this was under a covered walkway. We emerged from the entrance building at the top of the old clay pit and had a magnificent view of the spectacular Biomes.

A footpath winds down through the gardens towards the Biomes. Being the depths of winter there was little to see in the way of flowers in the outside gardens. However, once inside the Biomes there was plenty to look at.

We started with the Rainforest Biome. Since it was raining very hard outside there was a very realistic damp atmosphere. I am not sure if it was condensation dripping from the roof or if there were tiny leaks here and there in the roof but there was certainly dripping water in places. There was not enough to spoil our enjoyment but enough to add to the atmosphere of the place.

The plants inside the Rainforest Biome are wonderful. The path winds up through tropical plantings representing rainforests of various parts of the world including Malaysia, West Africa and South America. The temperature inside the dome during our visit was around 30 degrees centigrade. I understand that it can get much hotter in the summer, particularly as you get nearer the top of the dome.

There are banana plants, rubber plants pineapple plants and all manner or tropical flowers in bloom. As you go round notices explain the crops that are produced with the pros and cons of the effect on the environment. It is good that food can be produced; it is bad that the rainforests of the world are being destroyed to produce the crops. It is a difficult equation to solve.

If you are in the area of the Eden Project I would thoroughly recommend a winter visit as an escape from the cold climate for a few hours.

Click on the pictures below to see a larger version.

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