Friday, 29 July 2016


Just cut off flowers on rocket and picked first beetroot, brought in three stems of rhubarb, each a couple of feet long (25cm). The rhubarb is chopped and put in the bottom of the Aga with a dash of water and sugar - gently stewing.

Have dead-headed the pinks and then found this small corpse no heavier than a feather. It is a willow warbler (chiffchaffs have darker legs.) It probably flew into a window.

Mowed the lawns today, Monday, and only had one small accident when I fell backwards through a small fence down into the poppy bed - only my pride hurt.
R has weeded the asparagus bed and it looks pristine.

No more sightings of the brown rat but the tree rats are back on the peanut feeder.
Today is Tuesday, morning rain so off to the gym followed by a cappuccino in the hotel lounge. Mine tastes odd and of soap, the drink is curdled so I take it back. I am told that they must have not washed out the coffee machine properly and give me another - no apology or anything.
Home via supermarket and I take the blue bins, one for glass and cans, one for paper, down to the gate in the wheelbarrow. They will back the lorry up to the house for the wheelie bin but not for the small boxes - can't get me 'ead 'round it.

The Bushnell Cam is working well now - several videos of me mowing!
No mowing today as the grass is sodden so out to photograph some of our flowers.

Cosmos  Abutilon
Agapanthus  Delphiniumm
Astrantia  Lychnis coronaria
Japanese Anemone  Crocosmia Lucifer
Day Lily  Hydrangea Annabelle

The hydrangea by the back door has enormous heads and as it has been raining they are bowed to the ground.

The redcurrants are pruned and the raspberry old canes removed and new ones tied in. Then I looked across the lawn and noticed we have lost one of out white birches - dead as can be I think - one moment you are up and then you are down.

I have sheared off half the chives so they can regenerate top give us fresh leaves and done the same with the sweet williams - saving seed which I have sown immediately in a small area nearby. As the latter are biennial we can get flowers next years if I sow straight away.

It is raining, no the sun is out, no it is raining - weather is like politics at the moment!

Sunday, 24 July 2016


Of course the title of this blog is a big lie - I rarely go out weeding in the rain.

Tuesday - one minute it is 28C, humid and we are cooking, then Wednesday morning - thunder lightning and a refreshing breeze before torrential rain. And now the sun is out - 24C but not so sticky.

We are at the end of the soft fruit harvest, last raspberries and blackcurrants - something unseen finished off the gooseberries. The new potatoes, grown in a Monty Don sack (well, sort of) are delicious and last night I cooked - really I did - salmon with our own dill and carrots with our own coriander - and the potatoes.

I have been lifting spirogyra (green algae a bit like hair) from the pond. It seems to be thriving again after nearly dying out.

We have had a full moon and, no, this is not a live hare but a rake one by Gillian Still.

By Friday the morning is a pleasant 20C but after lunch it begins to spit with rain and drive us in. The sky has been full of swallows and martins - 50 to 60 at least and the swallows, now the young have fledged, are thinking of building another nest.
There is small corpse on the laving- a sparrow I think - and a bit maggoty. 

There are many things to clear away the dead and rotting detritus of the natural world including fungi. I found these in amongst pine trees - perhaps Amanita Rubescent, The Blusher. However as I am never 100% certain I shall just photograph them. 

Up in the wood the evening light is a delight when it shines through the grasses and herbs. Soon I will have to bring out the scythe and clear it all - I do not mind that, it is the raking off and taking away that is so tiring.

The trees that seemed quite small  when we arrived ten years ago are now huge like this - one of our ash trees.

If I walk there it is very like a huge church with arches and a vaulted ceiling of branches and leaves full of birds and small insects. The wood white butterflies circle in shafts of sunlight.

One of the joys of being interested in gardening is visiting other peoples places, getting new ideas and noticing that hey have nettles and brambles growing at the back of borders too. A recent visit to a garden in Barbon produced this gardener in the mixed vegetable beds. 

While we were at Barbon R bought a white delphinium (they have a few plants for sale)(and we had tea and cake) and this is now in flower in our garden.

At the end of last year I cut out the oldest wood from the philadelphus belle etoile. The result has been a fine showing of its scented flowers.

Now for the video camera update - it is working - in 3 days I managed 629 videos, one bird and one black cat! Think that moving leaves setting it off!

And I went to look at how the big grasses were doing - stipa gigantea and such - and they were clad in bindweed and goosegrass (cleavers) - sigh!

Yesterday, in the local supermarket car park, we watched a moorhen leaping three feet into the air and picking blackberries which it gave to a nearby chick - not seen that before.

So end of blog.

Rates norvegicus, the brown rat in all its splendour under the bird feeders having a mid morning snack - not R's favourite creature.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016


Not everything in the garden grows. On windowsills, in discrete corners, by path edges there are collections of stones from around the country, even abroad, brought back by myself.

I have reset the Bushnell Trophy Cam to video and see what I can get. So far not a lot. 

Today, Friday it is rain all day, wetting Lake District rain - not much fun for the holiday makers but without it - no lakes, not green and lush vegetation, less sales of waterproofs.

Yesterday Chris and Chris came as we live where she grew up and she wanted to see what we had done. She paid us the ultimate compliment and said that her late father would have loved it!

Still struggling with the Cam - set to video then find my Mac Quicktime cannot show it - have to download a converter. I put out a plate as bait with some hassle on and got two videos - the plate full and the plate empty but no sign of what (or who) took it. I plough on determined to get a result. 
Second go on video and in fact nothing on it! So reset and try again.

Monday and went out scything by the stream at 2pm - cool 18C. By 3 pm 25C! I am cooked.
Tools of the trade - barrow, rake, scythe and shears.

And if I now have headache I can take some feverfew, a pretty daisy like flower that seeds all over the place.

Time for some warm coloured plants to go with the weather? (Actually the Met Office says it will only last until Wednesday then back to the usual procession of low pressures from the west.)

I have been collecting bluebell seed from the far wood and sowing it to extend the area of plants, just rake the cleared ground and scatter then gently rake in  again. In the catalogues they are charging up to £10 for 25 plants. 
Unfortunately (or not) in the UK H. non-scripta is a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Landowners are prohibited from removing common bluebells on their land for sale and it is a criminal offence to remove the bulbs of wild plants.

On the other hand kill the Spanish ones! (They have already interbred around the country so it is too late I am afraid.)

R just found an unusual caterpillar - a grey dagger moth I think.

I have a new job - well. I said I would take some pics of the golf course for the web site. At the highest point there is a monument - to the Gale Family. Tradition says it is three sided as these are the three directions the last brothers left across the world - nice idea anyway.
From the eleventh tee I can see home a few miles away, and whether the washing is out on the line.

The swallows and house martins have fledged - here are two of the latter chattering and generally making a mess under the nest.
This one is above the door we use so we have to be watchful.

Twice I have treated our persistent wasps nest in the dormer and, after I had mown lawns (in 28C) R greeted me with the fateful words - "They are back!"
I had noticed (and photographed) them feeding on the lovage. Time for an expert assassin.

So, as the world of politics descends into the vortex of inanity and as I listen to the tapping of a greater spotted woodpecker on the peanuts outside my window and head for the shower as a cooler end to a hot day.

Thursday, 14 July 2016


The internet is a strange world - suddenly the blog gets 94 hits from Mauritius!

This morning R called me upstairs and we watched a fox in the field below the house presumably hunting rabbits.

To some goodish fruit news - the Conference pear I was worried about has made a recovery and has some fruit. The Bramley apple is loaded - don't know what we will do with it all - probably give it away. The damson down the garden and the Victoria plum are also loaded but the damsons near the house and the greengage fell victim to the spring frost and are fruitless - this year.

We walked into the wood last night and the sunlight shining through the grasses and flowers was a treat. We saw a treecreeper - only the third time in nearly ten years but then they are a small brown bird and difficult to see against the bark. The ash tree branches are so low now they make a tunnel of the path beyond the beech hedge,

Reg Rambling Rector roses, usually fairly short in length of flowering are still going strong and new briars are shooting out across the grass. It grows so fast.

Being a good eco sort of chap, some of the time, I got myself an Ecotricity card for free charging of my hybrid on the Motorways. Last night I got an email to say that they are going to charge for charging! And I will need an smart phone with their Ap to do it. Of course if I go to them for my mains electricity supply I will get it free - but? As soon as they have cornered the charging point market and got everyone dependent on them they bring in the charges.

Now for some flower pics - yellow flag iris by the pond, blue knapweed, Hilary's rose and starry alliums - Christophii I think.

The upper banking is looking tidier, some of it. Where the white rosebay grows is still jungle.

We are still waiting for the paving man to come and repoint but there is no panic, anyway I would have to shift all the pots and  seats and stuff.

The asparagus, now fallow, needs weeding but there are a lot of good spears to build up the strength for next year. It only had a chickenwire surround of about a foot in height but that seems to keep the munchers away - for now.

I go on picking black and red currants - and then picking them over which takes ages. No wonder they are expensive in the shops.

The sun has come out - for one day anyway, my sister and husband are here to stay and coffee beckons.

So finally two more blasts of beauty - a vermillion rose and the simple white perfection of a water lily.

Friday, 8 July 2016


It is early morning, the night rain has passed 
and I am drawn to the bedroom window by a clatter. It is pigeon wings. An amorous male is dipping his head to the ground in obeisance to a female who is studiously ignoring him. He wanders after her like a lost soul - driven on by his hormones and her pheromones.

There are woodpeckers on the peanuts, greater spotted, female, male and juvenile. One flies up into the big ash and begins to hammer at the trunk.

Far down the garden the unprotected red currants have gone, eaten by the blackbirds, but those behind the netting are surviving. So I picked some and bunged them on a blue plate. There is a pound of juicy tart fruit and they are now in the freezer. 

Meanwhile a cock blackbird is leaping from the ground into the black currant bushes and gorging itself on the fruit.

We have a swallow sits outside the other window, the one that looks out over the pond, over the bay, and ignores the fact that we are only a few feet from it. At the corner of the roof are a cluster of seven fledgling tree sparrows, squabbling and chasing one another across the slates. 

When an adult arrives chaos reigns as they clamour to be fed.

These are not the only fledglings - there are both great and blue tits, chaffinches and collared doves, greenfinches and goldfinches everywhere. Then there are the skulkers - dunnocks, wrens and robins. The dunnocks, inconspicuous and promiscuous, are mostly silent but wrens tack through the shrubbery like a high-sterned galleons, silent now but in spring, all cannons thundering. Robins are robins, cantankerous and endearing at the same time, following me as I weed looking for upturned lunch - and I haven't mentioned house martins and house sparrows.

And never forget the bunny rabbits!

Sunday and we visited a house at Barbon under the NGS scheme and R bought a white delphinium. Whether it survives in our slug and snail ridden garden is debatable but I have put it behind netting to at least deter the bunnies.

Today is Monday and I have braved the afternoon showers to pick fruit - everything is coming at once - and make some spelt flour bread. (Have to admit I cut off the end whilst still warm and ate it will salty butter soaking in.)

The gooseberries and blackcurrants are in the freezer, the redcurrant eaten as part of a Pavlova - fruit, cream and meringue - and a little sugar as the currants are tart.

From outside there comes a laugh, not a woodpecker but a jay with his wonderful blue feathers - a supreme twitchy nervous bird biot highly intelligent - a member of the crow family.

Come Wednesday and it is insects that draw our attention - there is a strange noise in the bathroom like dripping water. I cannot find the source until I go up in the loft and meet wasps!
We have a nest in the roof space over the bathroom dormer. They are bad enough (or good enough if you are an ecologist) in the garden but not in the house - so bye bye.

Now, let me explain the next two pics - R gave me a cam for my birthday and I set it up in the wood. So - what did I get?

Me leaving last night

and me coming back today to see what rare beasts I had captured!!

So, try again and I got me putting away a ladder in the shed!