Friday, 12 January 2018

OF APPLES AND THINGS

Peeling three Bramleys from the shed for a bit of stewed apple and cinnamon I was reminded of my father who would always regard an apple as a challenge - get the peel off in one go without breaking it. As far as eating eating (as opposed to baking) apples go I eat the lot, skin, core, pips (they have a slight almondy taste).
I am also looking at a large bowl of Seville oranges waiting to be turned into marmalade.
  To move on - we have had a gardener visit, after eleven years some help is at hand (perhaps reluctantly by me).
  We talked about replenishing the slate chipping paths and moving the rose bed with a view to the new upsizing and new siting area. Terms acceptable and he is the son of parents who were at school with me. (I hope that does not put him off?) So I have been weeding and clearing the rose bed until my fingers go dead. It is not the coldness but when they come round that is painful. Some of the roses are surprisingly feeble, perhaps underfed in too shallow soil, that will be remedied and we will see if we can revive them.
  First snowdrops in an egg cup in the kitchen, first blood blister of the year from my secateurs on my thumb. Bulbs coming through everywhere. Winter still with us but Spring is nudging the garden.
  Going out this morning (Sunday) and the farmer with his big tractor has snapped off the post with the electric gate button. I can tell it was he by the tyre tracks. Not a word of sorry, not a thing - just plain unneighbourly. I have cobbled some sort of support with a post and wire but will have to get it repaired. I have considered sending the bill to the farm but it would not do much good. Sigh!
  Just been out beginning to cut back the roses before transplanting later in the year - early spring best?

  There are certain objects that have moved around with us for some years - the rhubarb forcing pot, alas no lid, bought for a pound at an auction, a big lump of quartz carried down a mountain forty years ago, a sundial that belonged to R's grandmother and a small stone trough that belonged to my mother.

The trough has a small drainage hole in the base which is blocked and I will need to clear before planting up. I like the effect of the moss that has grown on it.
 
There are still some errant plants in the garden like this passion flower which continues to bud up, not die back and the primroses by the stream.


To change subject - some birds like robins are very territorial but recently I have noticed cock chaffinches at it too.

So tidying and a dry day leads to potash production - well, a bonfire. (Still smouldering a day and a half later.) The ash will go on the blackcurrants and such.

Having a one-armed wife (wrong arm)(broken wrist) leads to all sorts of surprises - cooking, ironing (the mystery of ironing a shirt), cleaning and putting in earrings. 
Currently making Cottage Pie (the one with beef not lamb (Shepherds' Pie)) for the freezer.

  And now it is time to cook the smoked haddock.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

A RESOLUTION AND A RANT



This is the view from home to the Nuclear Power Stations at Heysham over Morecambe Bay. I wonder what Wordsworth and Ruskin would say. 

New Year's Resolution - to try and make the garden more in harmony with nature without it becoming a chaotic jungle (though there is something in that idea)(will not be compatible with a control freak like me?).

I am reading John Lewis-Stempel's book, The Running Hare. The area where he lives in the Welsh Borders is very familiar as our daughter and her family live high on Orcop Hill. He bemoans the dreadful disaster that farming is inflicting on the natural world - I think too many people no longer living in harmony with their surroundings but exploiting it to its severe detriment.
Bird numbers in the rural environment have plummeted and the cities do not fare much better. Vast edgeless fields are empty of animal and insect life let along wild plants. 


So you say why a scruffy photo of a field with molehills? 
Well moles mean worms and worms mean a healthy pasture. This field is where a nearby farmer keeps sheep and cattle - so it is well fertilised - not only that he treats it with the muck-spreader once a year.

Pesticides and herbicides are lavished on crops - they are so safe that farmers who are spraying have to be in sealed tractor cabs!
And the chemicals enter the soil, wash off into the ditches, to the rivers and finally pollute the oceans.
We are gradually polluting and poisoning the world.

In the garden we encourage birds despite the predators - cats and grey squirrels etc - we have our pond, leave areas wild, make compost, have a lawn full of weeds like creeping buttercup. But we are a small, not quite two acre, patch in a world of factory farming.
I have a dream - I win the lottery and buy up farms, let some of the land go wild and then put in a farmer to cultivate in the old ways - that word harmony again.

And so to George Monbiot and his wilding - introducing lynx, beavers and wolves is irrelevant when what we need to do is live in harmony with the world about us. 
It is time for Chris Packham and the tribe to spend a series in the middle of a giant Norfolk wheat field and report almost nothing. (Apart from being sprayed with chemicals.)

Rant ended for now - a poem - or two -

THERE IS NO ROOM

There is no room for the wild,
we crowd it out.  The bees die -
no seed sets, no grain grows.
We wrap the world with our
insidious greed, plunder its riches.

We are too many.  Beyond our streets
the country is prey to geometric
habitation, block on block,
tar margined concrete plaque, 
reaching up as if to grasp the sky.

Is this now the time when politicians
should mention population,
realise a plague is here and we are it,
that in this war - election
and extinction versus common sense -

the winner will lose, we will all lose.
When fuel crops replace food, millions starve
but still drive their cars to supermarkets
for unhealthy goods they can’t afford to buy.
We were born with legs to walk

not to press accelerators, brakes -
with mouths to talk, to shout.
And if we do nothing - we will be gone,
for the balance will be restored.

With or without us Earth will turn.


DISEASE

It has rained, roofs are moonlight.
Geese wedge west, tug at the heart.
At the back of a blackthorn hedge
badgers half bark, half cough. Owls trade claims.

Rubbish is stacked by the gate, waits for the six a.m. wagon.
The world should be at ease but the drone of the traffic
drowns the peace, street lights, reflected from scattered clouds,
snuff stars, cast amber shadows on the tar.  

A farm dog on a night out rips black plastic, spreads waste.
It has rained, drains are blocked, chemicals flood 
from stinking fields, geese choke, owls are silent,
there is no lichen on the blackthorn bark,

It took ten thousand years and an Ice Age.
Man is gone. Now there are only scars and archaeology.
Blackthorn are heavy with sloes, owls hunt the scrub,
there are badgers in the woods.

From the mound of fresh earth at a sett’s mouth
a shred of black protrudes - the remnant of a bin bag.
To the west geese skein in to tide-washed turf,
apes forage in the rushes.

Friday, 29 December 2017

2017 A YEAR BETWEEN WINTERS


Before I summarise the last year here is today in all its slushy, cold glory. We are on the snow line and in the top left hand corner is the new feeder S and K gave us for Christmas.


And a happy New Year.

Back to the blog - 
Where does it all come from? Looking back through the year at woodland brimming with vegetation, roses heavy with flowers and so on - where does it all go?


In the early spring the days lengthen and the first leaves come with rhubarb bursting from their crowns.


Then the cherry blossom erupts


to be followed by leaves.


The borders are full of forgetmenots and tulips,


then hesperus and alliums.


The way to the wood past the oriental poppy bed 


leads to a wild display of campion and pignut.


Aquilegia, self sown, flowers wherever it likes


and the roses and crambe bring drama to the garden.


The garden is haven for birds like the nesting pheasants


and there are mallard on the pond.


 The year moves on through waterfalls of Rose Rambling Rector.


Gradually later plants emerge - the Japanese Anemones complementing the resurgence of flowers on the roses.


And then the shadows lengthen as September comes with dew and a different light.


Harvests are taken,


the leaves turn and fall -


Where does it all come from - where does it all go?

Monday, 25 December 2017

IT DOES SNOW HERE


Occasionally.

A happy Christmas time and a good 2018 to everyone.


Images from 2008 show an unmade, underdeveloped garden waiting for its gardeners.

More snow in 2009 the night shot taken from the kitchen door.
The garden view does not seem to show a lot of change.

Moving on to 2010, a prolonged freeze and a bigger snow fall. It must be said we do have some semi tender plants in the garden and most of them survive. Of course the tender annuals and such, like nasturtiums, quickly go gooey.



Not all days were crisp and sunny, often it was overcast, even foggy.
Walking around the garden the footprints of birds and animals become evident. Under the snow there are tunnels made by the voles and mice.
 
In 2011 we only had one snowfall I can remember.


And so to 2012 and gloomy days. We are often at the dividing line between snow and no snow, up on our hill. Go down the road and it all disappears.




When snow falls later in winter clumps of snowdrops can be found sheltering in hidden corners.

2013 and one of the bonuses of living high on this hill overlooking Morecambe Bay is the view to the south - even in winter.


On the other hand watching flakes fall in the wood, driven onto tree trunks, can also be magical.


I do not seem to have any snow pictures from 2014 which makes me thing there was none of any consequence, and 2015 reveals only one of some light dusting in the garden. Perhaps Global Warming is having an effect?

2016 - 


We had one good fall and I remember walking into town (about a mile) with the camera desperate to try and find a Christmas Card shot.
The white stuff was gone in 48 hours, back to rain and grey skies.

So to 2017 and at the end of first week in December we had the first flurries, not a lot, just an early warning perhaps of things to come (or not).


Tuesday, 19 December 2017

BALMY BARMY DAYS


BALMY BARMY DAYS


I had a dream may have been said somewhere else but the other night - ! I was in the rough to the left of the sixth fairway at Ulverston golf course playing football with my friends I and S. I was dressed casually, S wore only shorts and I was stark naked lying on my back in the dew laden grass. Further to the left was not the fourth fairway but a river and behind that rose an enormous monochrome mountain with snow. I was somewhat concerned with my nudity but S told me not to worry, no one will notice. And they didn't. Passing golfers seemed to regard what was happening as nothing out of the ordinary. Then I woke up.
Later the same night I was in a car driving down a lane having waited ten minutes to get out of the Greenodd village turning when something felt wrong. I pulled into a passing place on my left and got out to find the inner tube of a tractor tyre under the car - just as a tractor thundered towards me. The driver denied it was his. Then I woke again.
I could not identify anything unusual I had eaten as I am on a diet to try and shed some lard pre Christmas.

So there you are - the weather is definitely not balmy but perhaps I am (barmy).
Back to gardening with three of views from behind the house - one a panorama.




It is this end of the house that will, hopefully, sprout our extension.

Out digging over a veg bed - it his cold, I am old and won't be told - north wind, coat, gloves and after an hour that is enough.

One problem in the garden are rushes - the damp helps - I have even just dug some young plants from the veg bed. This pic is of what once was the bridleway up the field behind the house. Then a local farmer dug it out and left a ditch, the contents of which come into our garden as our small stream. As you can see there is the odd rush growing beside it. So no wonder we have a problem.

Cannot keep up with the weather - pouring today with flooding down the road and 7C, Saturday black ice on the road to the extent R slipped and broke her R wrist. One man stuff for a while but at least she has a doctor to nurse her. Ah! The well laid plans of Christmas. At least her purple wallflower Erysimum Bowles Mauve is still at it (and she has bought four more from the man on the market.)

The white amaryllis R bought has flowered and we thought it was over but - now we have a new bud coming and I am feeding it. It will probably not flower until January but a bonus. The others are tired and we have only managed to get a small new bulb - after 4 years of flowers. I have not decided yet whether to just throw them away or try and fatten them next year.
The squirrels just keep getting fatter as if they have to eat and eat in case Kim and Trump decide to have a ding dong - they are like two small boys who have been given a AK47 to play with the way they go on. And if they carry on many innocents will get hurt (isn't that always the case).
They ought to be made to watch the 295 episodes of Last of the Summer Wine - more men behaving like children.

ps Yes I have been mucking about with the layout - clearer now.