This year the grey November is lit up by three of my favourite plants, all coinciding in time thanks to the mixed-up weather we have these days.
Don’t ask me (more…)
Cardiff’s streets are full of lime trees (the rest of the world seems to call them lindens) and they have been on my muddled mind all summer.
There are three main species in the UK and I have been trying to work out which is which, with many wrong turns in my “investigations”. Please tell me gently if you think my (final) conclusions are wrong!
It had long troubled me (more…)
Kingston Lacy, near Wimborne in East Dorset, has a bit of an ancestral connection for me, although sadly not with the wealthy Bankes family, who owned the great house for more than 300 years.
My 3-great grandfather was a woodman here in the 19th century. For this reason I have put a gallery of Kingston Lacy pictures in my blog’s “ancestral places” section and this is just a short post to point to it.
Today Kingston Lacy is run by the National Trust.
Please click here to come with me on a walk through the gardens on a very hot and bright August day.
The other evening the spring sun was low in the sky and I couldn’t resist taking some back-lit pictures of new leaves on the street trees of the city.
I have already written about wonderful autumn leaves but they are also at their most glorious when they first open in spring.
It’s interesting seeing those flowers on the (more…)
We always have two or three grey squirrels living in the garden and we have come to accept them as a pain but with as much right to live as the birds.
But in the last month they have been behaving unusually, stripping the bark from the ash branches I can see from my window.
Are they sharpening their teeth, or just eating the bark and the pith below? This is the first year I haven’t put out whole peanuts for them, only kibbled peanuts for the birds, so are they lacking something in their diet or are their dental work-outs not rigorous enough?
After they have laid bare the white pith of the tree, bluetits are attracted to it. Is it because the moisture draws small insects?
All part of nature’s rich tapestry…
And here’s the answer to the mystery, from June via a comment:
Hello, your Squirrel is collecting nesting material as it’s coming into their breeding season soon, look out for several squirrels chasing 1 squirrel, the 1 at the front is the female.
The bluetit is attracted to the rising sap which will be oozing out of the damaged bark.
Squirrels bark-stripping trees can eventually kill off the tree if the damage is too great, you could try providing alternative material for your squirrel such as, straw, hay, dried leaves or even shredded paper.
Does this remind you of anything? I spotted it at the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Carmarthenshire the other day.
The picture shows the sawn-off stump of a Polylepis australis in mid winter. And here’s the rest of the tree, rather the worse for wear after very harsh frost and snow – although it is probably adapted for the cold since it comes from the endangered mountain forests of the South American Andes…
Maybe you don’t see it yourself, but my first thought was Wall-E!
I will soon be posting more pictures from the National Botanic Garden of Wales, but I felt this one deserved its own mention…
All is resting in the garden at Aberglasney House in Carmarthenshire at this time of year, but still a great deal of interest remains for plant enthusiasts – as well as great home-cooked local food in the little Gardeners’ Cafe!
The brassicas in the kitchen garden have survived the frost and snow well…
But sadly the same cannot be said of the colourful but delicate Swiss chard…
When all else fails, the bones of the trees remain…
And the dead seed heads of the herbaceous plants…
And it’s a time for the mosses and lichens to shine…
The stony gardens are cold…
That same lavender was full of butterflies in the summer…
On the same dark mid-winter day that we visited Usk and Monmouth, we also went to Tintern Abbey in the lovely Wye Valley.
We are members of Cadw and get in “free”, so we always visit when we are in the area.
It was early afternoon, but with sunset soon after 4pm at this time of year, it was already dim. It made the abbey’s stones seem more ruinous than ever but also showed up their lovely pink colour. I believe it’s the old red sandstone on which much of Monmouthshire stands and which gives the Wye its red colour.
Tintern Abbey was a Cistercian house founded in 1131 and rebuilt in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. It was surrendered to Henry VIII in 1536 when he dissolved the monasteries. He gave it to Henry Somerset, Earl of Worcester, who sold lead from the roof and leased parts of the area for cottages and other early industrial buildings.
The abbey regained fame in the 17th and 18th centuries when it was discovered by the Romantic poets (such as Wordsworth) and artists (such as Turner).
My aim for the day had been to take pictures of bare winter trees and some of these were visible from the abbey, too.
What I noticed most, though, was the hard white lichen like chewing gum patches all over the stones.
And the whole ruins, which have stood tall for so many centuries, looked as if they would crumble into damp rubble at any moment.
In the dark, damp days between Christmas and New Year, once the snow had cleared enough for us to get out of the house, we went for a drive in rural Monmouthshire (my home county).
I took my camera, despite the lack of good daylight, and snapped a few odds and ends in Usk, on the grey muddy river of the same name, and at Monmouth, where the Monnow meets the red muddy Wye.