Thursday, 13 July 2017


Dead and dropped on the tarmac by the car, this mole or mouldywarp had been taken, probably by a hawk, possibly by a cat and left as I disturbed the predator. It must have taken a lot of animals to make a moleskin waistcoat.

And then the guided missile that is a sparrow hawk takes a fledgling blue tit in front of my eyes (well, it wouldn't be behind them). This is not much of a photo but it was a snapshot through the window - only had a few seconds.
The big whites are staring to go over,
the Rambling Rector Roses and the Philadelphus. The deutzia is done and even the white willow herb starting to seed. I think I shall have to cut that one down as it self seeds a bit too freely. It is bad enough having its runners spreading through the banking grass. On the other hand it is lovely.

Sometimes plants exceed expectations - tall plants, the eight feet tall lovage, nine feet tall rue growing up through a cherry tree, (even the foxgloves are tall) cardoons and stipa gigantea, even one broad-leaved willowherb (yes a weed) at six feet - normally smaller and widespread. Then there are the Lilium regale, stuck in a pot for four years, this year they should have been small and in need of moving - but!

So bad back, R tells me to go easy - so what do I do - weed the whole place, trim box and sarcococcus etc etc (and take paracetamol) - but cannot moan - self inflicted problem. And now - a bonfire, some heavy mowing followed by a shower and some alcoholic analgesia (just a small Peroni.)

I will, soon, have to attack the lower banking as the grass is getting too long and I cannot use the excuse of letting daffodils build up their bulbs for next year.

 The anthemis and self sown feverfew here light top a dark corner whilst Crocosmia Lucifer is blasting out its red. I put some in a vase in the church porch for the weekend - I wonder if anyone realised they had Lucifer in the church?

And then there are the ducks - by the pond. As we walk around one way the duck waddles ahead of us, just keeping out of range. Today I saw a cock reed bunting in the vegetation at the side of the water.   

We have two nests of house martins though sadly no swallows this year. Sitting out is interesting as the feeding parents zoom past our heads.

Still eating raspberries - and finally bought some cream.

Friday, 7 July 2017


The battle with the blackbirds goes on - I wish I had put in a fruit cage now - the redcurrants are decimated, blackcurrants going the same way and raspberries half eaten. Yesterday I caught a blackbird caught within the netting I had put around the fruit.The plums and apples look ok but the pears, greengages and to some extent damsons have fallen foul of the late spring frost.

R's saga with the mallard goes on and then I caught them on the camera walking up the garden top the field, presumably on their way to the Mill Dam a third of a kilometre away.


Bad back! Its is not the scything that does it but the raking of the cut grass.

Bees have been mentioned - my daughter and her family have a guest hive in their field in Herefordshire. It would help with pollination? We seem to have mainly bumble bees.

It is the season of Oxeye daisies - albeit wild they give a dazzling display.

Just caught a jay in the squirrel trap again. In the local paper their was an offer to take away (and cull) grey squirrels but if someone else is going to kill them is that much different from me doing it - I'd have still done 'em in.

Having to take a break as bad back - more pressure to get help in the garden - can still pick raspberries though (when I am not eating them).

 And so to birdlife in the garden - the greater spotted woodpecker feeding its offspring thought the latter is as bias the adult.

Under the feeders the hen pheasant collects the cast off bits of peanuts and seeds.

And she is guarded by her male half as she wandered through the roses.

 On the edge of the shed roof birds queue up for the feeders - a place I think might be very vulnerable to a passing sparrowhawk. Here a cock tree sparrow and a greenfinch.

Meanwhile there are fledgelings everywhere, waiting in shrubs and on fences to be fed.

One joy of a garden is having flowers in the house especially pinks with their wonderful scent.

Thursday, 29 June 2017


Came back from Herefordshire (5 1/2 hour drive) and had to nip out and mow the lawn before rain after the brief sunshine that was probably our summer.

So another year under my belt (at least not hanging over it!)

R has just watched the mallard duck walk down the garden from the back field to the pond with two ducklings, both quite big. We think they have been reared on the old mill pond about four hundred yards away and she has brought them to us for breakfast. 

The pheasants, as usual started the year with more than one chick - two this year, but now none - could be fox but more likely a cat - number one predator in the garden.


I have been scything the path sides as the grass was leaning over and after rain making walking very unpleasant.

We have picked our first gooseberries but the damsons look disappointing and the strawberries very poor. As far as the currants and raspberries go it is the usual battle with the blackbirds and thrushes.

The squirrel trap continues to work but only to catch yet another angry jay. I watch the birds come and go, mainly tits, sparrows and finches like these goldfinches.

I have given PB yet more stuff from our pond (and covered myself in mud collecting it.)
The rambling rector rose is stunning but now the main colour in the garden comes from the alchemilla (Lady's Mantle).

The wild dog roses are flourishing, not as dramatic as the garden varieties but lovely nevertheless.

 Down by the pond the earlier red candelabra primulas have given way to Primula vera - the yellow one. This also is self seeding by the stream.

All in all the garden is looking good - the house full of flowers - alstroemerias, pinks and so on.

 The new delphiniums have survived slugs and snails and the dry banking is a mass of germaniums and grey foliage - interspersed with self sown foxgloves.

It is a bit late but I have ordered some netting in a last attempt to at least have a few currants for the freezer. 

The top wood is looking good - here a bit earlier in the year with the Hawthorn in flower.

And who says we do not grow some exciting plants in the garden - like these poppies!

It was too cold last night I put on the bed socks M gave me for Christmas! It is June, nearly July and the temperature yesterday struggled to 13C though was only 11.5C most of the day. At least the new netting came - just have to go out in the steady rain now to cover the soggy fruit.

Friday, 23 June 2017


Is the latest fragrance after I got covered in mud moving arrowhead and flowering rush. R decided the could not see enough clear water from her shed.
This is the rush on the right.
In the garden there are many white flowers, so important - the deutzia and philadelphus are in full bloom and here are some others beginning with the water lily.

Others include the rather invasive but beautiful white willow herb in the upper banking jungle, a white campanula much loved by R,

the pink Mrs Sinkins and the Rambling Rector rose cascading out of the great ash tree.

There is also the shrub rose William Shakespeare on the left and the crambe on the right by the back path.

So who else has been to the garden - how about Reynard the fox. (Might be Mrs Reynard though.)


Back to Eau de Pond - here is a puddle in a mass of mud - a sort of pond, the digging out not complete. I have now chucked in some plants from the bottom pond.
You can see the move pond on the right in this shot of the far top garden, dark in the wood and damp. The gap straight ahead between the trees was made when I removed the shrubs referred to in a previous blog.

The lower far garden shows the birches, a compost heap on the left and the line of the stream - must scythe the sides soon.

One flower R loves is the Rosa Mundi, When I pruned it in the autumn I stuck three bits in a corner of the cutting bed and voila - they have all rooted.

I must now go the the plumbing merchant as I have broken the en suite lavatory seat! Ah! Back to the fundamentals of life.

Saturday, 17 June 2017


I have decided to prune the lower branches off the white lilac as they are shading out surrounding plants. Then R and I walk to the top clearing in the wood and I realise, if I removed a hazel and an elderberry there would be a fine view across the bay - cue for a seat even though a lot of the time the big trees next door would leave it out of the sun - would be good on hot summer days though - if we get any.
Just as I am about to go out (R has gone off to church to wield the chalice) I receive a happy Father's Day text (except it is next week.)

The trees are duly cut down and heaped in a bonfire (not lit). I walk up to the top grassy area and look at the new view - of a large pylon - now, where did that come from?

The weight of pigeons has demolished the hanging bird table and I have had to restring it.

I am reading Alan Bennett's Keeping On, Keeping On, R lent it to me. The trouble is I keep seeing the world now in anecdotes and observations. 

Back to the computer and there is a grey squirrel in the trap on top of the shed outside - three in four days - they are breeding like rabbits (well, squirrels).
Loaded the car with pondweed and the willow canes for P, then added the squirrel - till cannot kill them so will relocate it (I know, illegal!) Squirrels are vermin and eat birds' eggs and so on.

And just when I think I can put the trap away it goes off again - look what I caught.

Come the next morning, 6.45 am and I wake to the sound of a voice in the garden. It turns out it is R talking to a Jay trapped again - perhaps not the same one? She cannot open the thing and release it so I wander out into early morning mizzle in pyjama bottoms undo the catch and lift the flap. The jay shoots off like a guided missile

Shortly after I see the woodpecker is feeding its young, taking peanut from the feeder - lazy young bird could do that for itself?

A note for Pam who gave me a little Phormium when we moved house - we may have to move again if it gets any bigger!

But all is not delight - we still have tragedy when the small birds hit a window and die.

Come on, I hear a cry - If it's June it's Roses - so here is some of the rose bed -

and some of the roses - on the left Emma Hamilton and William Shakespeare, on the right Gertrude Jekyll and I cannot remember.

Up in the wood the Rambling Rectors are just getting going whilst on the way to the pond the Albertine is flowering. This is a beautiful old rose, if a fleeting one with a heavenly scent. All in all, apart for the one I cannot remember the name of that was given to us, the rest are from David Austin Roses. We went to their Shropshire nursery and garden once - amazing.

Of course there are other plants flowering in the garden - like this black iris - Iris chrysographes black form. And colour is s strange thing - Oh! for a blue rose but the best they can do, like Rhapsody in Blue which is purple, fall a long way short. Some clever person will move a gene from a blue delphinium no doubt - but I feel that is cheating a bit?

R has been given and early birthday present of a white Ragged Robin, something the has wanted, and it has now been put in the edge of the pond just outside her Writing shed window.

Bang! A juvenile greater spotted woodpecker has hit my window. It was stunned and breathing heavily with beak wide but finally flew up to the trellis and then away.