Thursday 27 April 2023

A to Z challenge 2023 – W is for . . .


A to Z challenge 2023 – W is for . . .

My theme for this challenge is Nature in all much of her wonderful diversity. My posts will reflect the fact that I am resident in the south of England.

All photographs in this post are the property of the writer.

Warm Welcome

We planted this climbing rose at the far end of the garden and I wish we had chosen a spot nearer the house, for although it is advertised as having a ‘light fragrance’, it has a noticeably sweet scent.

It is reputed to be one of the longest flowering climbers available, and is classed as a ‘short climber’, or miniature climbing rose, meaning that it attains an eventual height of about 8’ (2.5m). It has been available commercially for about 40 years.

‘Warm Welcome’ bears clusters of bright orange semi-double flowers from July to September, which shine out on the darkest days, yet are not overwhelmed in bright sunlight, and which contrast beautifully with the plethora of dark green leaves.

Despite its loveliness, it has vicious thorns, the sort that pierce sharply and hang on tightly, not wishing to release the person who has ventured to prune it. Sturdy gardening gloves are de rigeur!



All living things need water. Even a small pond in the garden will attract wild life, some of which may not be welcome, though most will bring delight.

Within a very short time of digging a pond – or utilising an old sink or dustbin lid – all manner of flying, biting, humming, stinging, buzzing, swimming creatures, large or small, will find their way to the new water source. A miniature world of procreation, battle and renewal will be revealed as the occupants and visitors commandeer the area.

With luck, toads, frogs and newts will discover the new playground, the nocturnal newts to be rediscovered periodically when they rise from the depths or appear from under rocks, while the frogs are more readily seen. Toads are secretive and lurk in damp, dark regions of the garden, returning to the water to mate and lay eggs in the spring.

Common toad
Common smooth newt

In the heat of a dry summer, birds drink and gratefully bathe in the shallows. Small birds must drink at least twice a day and will also bathe to clean their feathers and cool down. In cold winters, a pond is a valuable water reservoir for birds, when other areas may be covered in ice.

Pipe in the forest to drain water

Mice and rats come to drink and sometimes swim, though usually as a means of getting from one location to another, rather than as a leisure activity.  (Mice can swim and tread water for three days.)

Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)

This tiny bird, the commonest in the garden, occupies a wide range of habitats and is the most common breeding bird across the UK. It feeds on insects and spiders, searching among the leaves to uncover them. It is a bird popular with people and featured on our long defunct farthing copper coin.

For centuries the wren has been regarded as special. The legend that it proved itself to be the king of the birds is found across Northern Europe as well as in 13th century Jewish writing, in India, in central Africa and in some North American tribes.

The Irish version says that all the birds gathered in a hidden green valley and decided that the one that flew the highest would be crowned king. The eagle soared high above the others and thought he was the winner, but the wren had ridden on his back and flew up above him at the last moment.

Because it is a very small bird, it does not have huge reserves of fat and suffers appreciably in cold weather. Wrens huddle together for warmth, all thoughts of territory put aside. In the winter of 1969, 61 wrens were found in a nesting box in Norfolk.

Early Christians thought the bird had pagan associations and in Ireland and the Isle of Man the bird was hunted on 26th December, St. Stephen’s Day. It was said that the wren’s noisy song had alerted St Stephen’s persecutors to his hiding place among the bushes. A captured wren was paraded through the streets atop a pole and the date was known as Wren Day.

Folklore holds that hurting a wren brings bad luck. The bird is small but mighty! Its scientific name is taken from the Greek ‘troglodytes’ meaning ‘hole-dweller’ because the wren’s habit is to disappear into cracks and crevices in search of food.

I seem to remember ‘troglodyte’ being a term of unaffectionate abuse, an insult, in my youth. It implied that the person being so called was unsophisticated and didn’t know much, as simple as a cave-dweller, in fact. I wouldn’t mind being compared to a wren, that resourceful, alert, quick little bird.


  1. The rose is my favourite here today, I wish more of our Australian roses were scented, so many aren't.

  2. So many of the modern roses aren't scented and that is a great shame.

  3. What a gorgeous rose, and I do love wrens, which are called Winterkoninkjes here, which translates as "little Winter kings"! xxx

    1. Little Winter King is such a lovely name x

  4. Interesting reading! My daughter said she was inthe back yard and a newt slithered across her foot. I laughed. Surprised she didn't keep it for a pet and name it.

  5. Funnily enough, I found a newt wandering along the carpeted corridor at school. There was no pond near enough to deposit it so I picked it up and brought it home to our garden pond. It was a source of interest all day in my classroom!

  6. It is a beautiful rose and worthy of its place in the garden!


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