Sunday, 28 November 2010


Again we are nearly snow free (though not ice) because it all falls on the pennines and Lake District when it come from the Northeast.

Plants that have survived till now finally
succumbed in last night's severe frost. Green things are bent and wilted, final leaves falling.

R loves the snow but I find it a nuisance - getting about is difficult - no one salts the minor roads and they become polished glass.

Of course there are times when it is beautiful as in this picture of out great sycamore at night with flakes falling.

However the ground is frozen and plants cannot go in - the ones that came late when I was ill. They are in the shed but that will be below freezing in this weather so fingers crossed that they survive.

So, feed the birds, watch and wait.

Friday, 26 November 2010


I have just stuck this on the Gardener's World site -
"Every garden needs, at least, a rough patch if it is big enough - or even if it is not.
A wild area can be just as beautiful - I must admit I abhor the park bedding planting - must be a bit of Jekyll crossed with John Muir?

The unburned bonfire now has a dilemma - I cannot set fire to it now because of hibernating hedgehogs etc - and by the time they emerge birds will be building nests in it. So the heap will have to be left to slowly rot - at least till September."

This image is, of course, from the summer - the footpath sign is over the fence. There are planted willows now growing to improve privacy.

The garden does have other more tamed areas but no formal bedding - you can check this by looking back. Probably the most managed areas are the vegetable beds but even there they are not the rigid lines one might expect of allotments and Victorian walled gardens.

Oh! And it is also a fallacy that a wild garden means doing nothing - if you do it will probably be taken over by brambles, nettles (some needed for butterflies etc) and such.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


Outside it is very cold - first really hard frost though the sun is now shining.

The birds are active and I noticed that all the berries on the top of the cotoneaster - the flat one - have been eaten but the ones underneath that are harder to get at are still there.
Well, why waste effort if you do not have to.

There are Pigletty Haycorns under oaks and large bunches of keys hanging on the ash.

The rowanberries have been stripped by redwings and the hazelnuts taken and buried by both the jays and the grey squirrel.

A few rosehips remain and the hawthorn is covered still with its small red berries.

Flowering plants with good seed heads have been left as have the grasses so the frost and sunlight can lift the garden at this time of year.

Everyone seems to have waxwings according to the television - but us.
I wait in hope.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


You would think - make a path, then it is done.
No way - the one above is a path made by a builder, hoggin and side boards and hardcore and so on. It still needs weeding and the moss loves it.

In the wood the paths are of grass or wood chippings so need mowing and renewing all the time.

By the pond in the boggy area I put down a stone chipping path which sank into the bog without trace. So I had to build a wooden boardwalk with old scaffolding planks. No doubt one day I will walk along it and disappear into the mire up to my knees, (or just disappear).

On other paths and around the veg and fruit beds I have used slate chippings but even this needs weeding and topping up.

Then around the house we have stone paving which needs power washing and weeding and repointing.

Finally from the house to the cattle grid is tarmac. Great you say, at least that is the real thing - BUT - needs sweeping and the moss is staring to make an appearance.

This whole problem is known as Path Entropy - each path has an inborn programme to return to jungle.

So, unless you slave away, there is little chance of leading anyone up the garden p...!

Monday, 15 November 2010


As I am rotting away I thought I would talk of exciting things like hyphae and spore bodies - fungi.
The first is that horror of horrors - the Honey Fungus. You cannot do
anything to
prevent it other than try to keep trees
healthy as the thing is everywhere. Infected trees as our ash should be cut down.

(It is a sort of silvan Scent of New Mown Hay - book by John Blackburn).

Ash wood is good for a log burner so at least we get some warmth from it.
You can eat the fungus - it is edible - but I have not tried it.

Then a fantastic fungus - one of my favourites suddenly appeared in the middle of a
hoggin path. Do not ask me why it has come up there, I do not know.
This is the Orange peel fungus.
This picture is of it on moss covered wood as the specimen in the path is a bit feeble.

Some of the paths in the wood have as their surface wood chippings and in the autumn we get some interesting toadstools.

The two small images at the bottom show some of these.
Of course we have others like the Coral Spot and so on.

The only fungus I have had is Athlete's Foot. At least that did not look like this!

Thursday, 11 November 2010


It is a wild day. The heavy rain has passed but the wind is roaring over the house and through the trees.

Saw my first flock of redwing - here for the abundant berries.

The hawthorns are heavy with haws which some say indicates a cold winter ahead. Personally I would have thought it reflects the seasons past and pollination, frost damage to blossom and so on.

The garden seems full of birds and we have had the male greater spotted woodpecker back but this time on the feeders just outside the kitchen window. He is becoming bolder.

This is an old radio which currently lives out side the house on a windowsill in the covered area by the kitchen.

As I have outside electric sockets, in the summer I can listen to the cricket and sit in the sun.

A spider has set up house inside the radio - somewhere sheltered, dry and safe from predators. The latter essential as this is near the bird feeders.

The garden is looking a little unloved and untidy as I have been sidetracked by journeys to Manchester. At least there is nothing that a bit of hard labour will not cure - when I can motivate myself.

Monday, 8 November 2010


So the storm came last night - well a bit of a gale - and blew off most of the remaining leaves. The Prunus shirotae still has some.

The colour is spectacular but, nearby, the Great White Cherry is still resolutely green.

The big willow tree at the far end of the bottom hedge (actually it may be a sallow) still has yellow autumn foliage but the ash and sycamore leaves are long gone.

Sycamore is so disappointing for an Acer - such dull leaves - though I suppose the bright red young stems in the spring and early summer are okay. We have, of course one huge sycamore which scattered its winged seeds everywhere. I spend a big part of the summer pulling up seedlings.

The second picture is a close-up of the shirotae showing similar red leaf stems.

The feeders are plastered in tits - blue, great and coal - though there are other birds - see before.

Perhaps we should change the name of the house to The Tittery?

Perhaps not!

Friday, 5 November 2010


Rain, rain, rain and floods.
Unblocked the stream in several palaces - leaves and silt, dislodged turf from the bullock invasion, cobbles and twigs, watercress plethora.

Now the water is running down the bed as it should.

Halloween is past and here is our giant pumpkin as carved by Gary Gifford, street performer extraordinary.

What you cannot see is that he has drilled the fruit with many small holes which, when lit, would have radiated light in all directions.

The medium size one went to grandchildren in Manchester.

The smallest one was turned into soup after being roasted in the oven.
There is no definitive recipe. R did it and added a bit of this and some of that. Paprika was definitely in there as was vegetable stock.

It tastes Okay but as I am not a fan of pumpkin - except for carving for Halloween - it will do for us hot on a cold day.
It has always puzzled me how something that looks so wonderful can taste of so little.

It must be what you add that does the trick.

Pumpkin vindaloo? Then it would not matter too much of what it tasted.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


Manchester yesterday, Manchester today - travelling, it is tiring so the garden gets ignored. Thank heavens I have done the last grass cut before the spring.

A sunny item - this is the sundial which came from R's father's house in Liverpool and has been set into a piece of sandstone rescued from the barn conversion at High Greaves.
As the clocks have changed to winter time I need to adjust the angle of the dial.

The picture was taken just after we moved in in 2007 but the sundial is still in the same place near the house.

A not so sunny item - this is the top wood at dusk on a dark and dismal wet day. At the moment mornings are a bit like this but one struggles on!

The birds are consuming huge amounts of seed - we must be feeding everything for miles around. I need to get to West Cumberland Farmers for another sack of sunflower seed.

I buy in bulk as it is cheaper - I find the garden centres and big DIYs are a bit of a rip off.

We have most things now but I am still waiting for the first Nuthatch. I know there are some not far away but they have not found us yet.

It is time to watch for winter visitors - Redwing, Fieldfare, Brambling etc.