Tuesday, 18 September 2018

THE VIRTUE OF WHITE


It is seven thirty in the morning and our buzzard skims the trees chased by a pair of jays, the rooks land next to it and usher it away from their rookery. Later they will dive bomb the bigger bird as it circles on a thermal, rising into the blue.
I have said farewell to my cousin from Australia and as we stood outside the kitchen a shaft of sunlight lit up the hill behind Bardsea and then produced a rainbow. A grand goodbye.

The air is cold but shoving my hands into the compost heap soon warmed them up. (It was steaming.)

Do we have a small wood, a copse or a grove? I have found that there are ways of calculating the age of trees by measuring their girth at chest height. 
It transpires the bug sycamore and most off the ash trees in the wood are about 120 years old.



One of the big ash has shed a large branch so out with the loppers and a saw.

The seedling horse chestnut is now twelve feet high and thriving, the thornless hawthorns are loaded with fruit bending the branches down towards the grass though why, when I planted two identical trees one is much bigger than the other mystifies me.

Sycamore leaves are ageing and now spattered with blackspot. This is caused by the fungus Rhytisma acerinum.



The white birch stand out in their patch of long grass. I have decided not to mow amongst them this year.




White is so important in a world of green - a garden is mainly multiple shades of green. Japanese anemone on the right, phlox on the left and a bee in a white mallow flower below left, bellflower (campanula) below right.






















That is not to say that there are not some other colours still - 
In the house this gerbera had come again,


the fuchsias by the gate are delicate and contrast well with the grasses


And since we hacked back the buddleia the shrubby clematis is bursting with flowers.


We have carrots -







and even a rogue nasturtium growing on the compost heap. 
When we look at butterflies we see the gaudy open wings but here a painted lady shows of her beautiful underwings.

And the vicious rose "Grouse", a ground cover rose has pretty flowers and a faint scent.


R has eaten our only ripe fig.


And rabbits do eat damson leaves.



And if only our garden was as small and neat as this one from the Lowick Show - well . . .


Saturday, 8 September 2018

RAPTORS AND MARROWS



Yesterday we had buzzard and a pair of kites over the garden. Today we had a sparrow hawk sitting in the shrub by the bird feeders outside my window. The hawk looked at me and I am almost sure it smiled. Here I am providing a meal on a plate for it. Not a good time to be a small bird though the buzzards and kites are mainly scavengers.
The Mammal Society estimate, however, that 55 million birds are year are killed in the UK by CATS! We have two prowlers, a black cat (called Megatron) and a shaggy thing - do not know its name.



Let me talk damsons - yesterday morning R and I picked 28 pounds. Now most are in the freezer (actually for jam making freezing seems to soften the fruit speeding up the process) even this one that I posted on Facebook - could not resist it. There is definitely something anthropomorphic about it. (I have wanted to use that word in a blog for a while.)

I continue to do the Big Butterfly Count - 



 Speckled Wood

 

Painted Lady



Small Tortoiseshell 

The latter have suddenly sprung from the odd one to over a dozen.

We went to Holker Hall gardens the other day, partly as we can get in on our RHS membership cards and partly for coffee.


The herbaceous borders were still good and the use of white cosmos in the formal area was great. In the lower garden the pruning of the hedging bushes has left a line of dancing trunks. It gives the effect of a barrier yet one can see through unlike a normal hedge.

We have been to the Lowick and District Agricultural Show - the Li''le Royal. It has been going for about 160 years. Met friends and walked the tents. On the first Saturday in September. Congratulations to PB on his prize runner beans.

Back home the garden is struggling somewhat for colour. However the bed full of odds and so on - poppies, zinnias, cosmos - is still doing well - until the builder comes and digs it up.



Down in the cutting bed the black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia fulgia "Goldstrum", is bright and colourful but they do not cut well and droop almost immediately which is a shame. I looked up advice re this and got -


Rudbeckia- Harvest when just beginning to open or unfold. Flowers will continue opening when placed in floral preservative and water. Make your cut at the base of the stem or plant above a set of leaves.
Our flowers still droop.

One other thing that has givens a blast against the backdrop of sycamore is the Acer palmate "Sango-kaku" my sister gave me when we moved in.


If we are struggling with flowers it is good to have strong foliage hues.


Then there are courgettes and marrows - the freezer is filling with a courgette bake - defrost, put in a shallow dish, sprinkle with cheese and bung in the oven till hot - and now R is looking for a courgette chutney recipe.



Autumn looks like it might be early, the euonymus is turning red, the hamamelis yellow.

Apart from that the world is much the same, needs brightening up - I suggest at the party conferences Labour and Conservative do a swap - Boris for Jeremy and vice versa. We should have a new referendum on whether to have another referendum, Scotland and Northern Ireland to become anew country and the Isle of Man join Eire - OH! yes and Putin and Trump to have a week together on Necker Island and leave the rest of the world alone.

That's the world sorted, all I need now is a gardener who answers his telephone.


Wednesday, 29 August 2018

AUTUMN IN AUGUST?


Well, the second potato dug up did better than the first. I had forgotten they were redskins - a bit floury but good for roasties. 


I have finally struggled out between showers and with the temperature only 13C (it feels like autumn already) to mow some of the lawn with the little mower. Even so there was a lot of clogging.



The air outside is full of birds from herons (pterodactyls) and buzzards to bluetits and a horde of goldfinches. (That should be a charm really.)
The pheasants are skulking in the undergrowth


and there is a mess under the feeders (especially from the goldfinches and their Nyger seed) that I need to clear up. The chaffinches seem to like ground feeding though not exclusively and here is a dunnock that had crept out of the bushes. Who would think that this little brown bird is one of the most promiscuous.


After R trimmed back the big buddleia outside the kitchen window to let in some light I decided more radical action was needed so it is now a stump. Whether it regrows - ? - we will see. There is plenty of buddleia elsewhere. On Saturday I counted 14 small tortoiseshell butterflies on the big one by the septic tank.

Now the scythe has been out, only a smaller Austrian one not the big English blade, and part of the wood is done. Of course it is the raking off and carting away that is hard work. I do not want to leave the cut stuff on the ground as it feeds the soil and changes the wood. Wild flowers in woodland tend to like a poor earth.
R has pulled up all the opium poppies and borage from the new bed.

 On the right is our pear - not a good crop this year - and we have only  a handful; of Victoria plums - left.

 On the other hand the Bramley apples and damsons are looking good for a bumper crop. They must have missed the frost on the blossom.

By the back door (the front door but it is at the back) the michaelmas daisies are out of control flopping over the paving - they will have to come out later. Meanwhile I have used two old tree stakes to hold them back so the postman does not get sodden trousers.

And finally the warm muggy wet weather has brought out the cluster flies, here on a storage box by the veg beds - do not mind them - not like the clegs, that bite, their pincer-like mouth parts slicing through the skin.


Thursday, 23 August 2018

COLOUR AND COMPULSION





Two examples of a colour blast, zinnia and a crocosmia. There is nothing subtle about these flowers. As there is nothing subtle about the Black-eyed Susan or rudbeckia growing in the cutting bed.



It was with colour in mind the waste bit of ground was sown with poppies and so on.
And flowers are not the only hit of colour in the garden. The rose hips are with us - early because of the hot summer (now gone)(it is raining again) much like other fruit - there are ripe blackberries in the hedgerows, not as sweet as they might be but certainly edible. The Victoria plum is having a year off so only half a dozen which we will eat straight off the tree.





The cutting garden is full of gladioli and the red alstroemerias go on and on. The white phlox is just coming out. Ignore the buddleia seedling in the foreground - it will have to be shifted.

The courgette plants are bursting out of their bed and most of the veg is thriving - with the aid of some dilute Maxicrop - a seaweed concentrate.
One problem I have is with suckers put up by the big damson tree - they are all over the place. I dig them up, cut them off but they keep coming. On the other hand this tree is loaded with damsons so I can forgive (a bit).
In the distance you can see how well the rhubarb and asparagus is doing.



I have still not extracted the water lily from the pond - the one in the foreground above. It is our version of a Kraken - keeps on waking and will not go to sleep - well it will in the autumn when the leaves die back.
One day the teeth will have to be gritted and I shall step into the hidden depths (less than a metre).


 Two views up the path in front of the house from by the new rose bed. One plant that struggled before has loved its move - this sedum is a revitalised plant now. I think it is Sedum telphinium atropurpureum - I think.



The rain is raining,
The grass is growing,
I can't cut the lawn,
What do I care 
I've got my love to keep me  . . . .
er, well with her cold feet the answer cannot be warm.

Of course I have the answer - wilding - just let everything go but a small bed by the house. The trouble is I have an inbuilt tendency to like a cut lawn, a weed free bed and so on.

Answers on how to rid myself of this tendency please (without using drugs)(and that includes alcohol).