Sunday 30 July 2023

Bird people arrive


Large red damselfly

Greetings from the middle of summer. I am rather enjoying all of the rain and the greenness everywhere, it feels how it should be somehow.

I have been noticing that box hedging everywhere locally has been looking dreadful. I have some box in pots as well as in the ground and I can see that its days are numbered. Box moth is the problem. It's gone from a small area of damage to widescale destruction. A shame, but I'll just find something else to grow instead. 

The bin men are on strike around here at the moment so I am trying not to do too much pruning in the garden unless I can compost the stuff myself as the recycling centre has descended into chaos. The street bin chap has not been impressed as he is having to empty bins with nine bags of rubbish next to them, or stuffed with bottles so that he can't even lift the bag or, on one occasion, with actual concrete blocks in it. 

He is particularly cross because the recycling and household bin people are already paid a huge amount more than him and all they have to do is wheel the bin to the lorry and hook it up and not trudge across fields in the rain to a lone bin. I told him he should go on strike. 

There has been a knock-on effect with the roads leading to recycling centres completely clogged up and businesses losing money as they can no longer access them. One local operation has apparently lost thousands. 

The garden is absolutely full of birds at the moment eating all of the fruit. I am pretty much leaving them to it. Happy to share. Although it's a bit disappointing when the blackbirds pull off a blueberry, drop it and pick another one instead. Food waste! I have been picking them up and putting them on the bird table.

We have new neighbours and I am very excited to see that no only do they have actual plants, including herbs and lavender, (there hasn't been a single plant in the garden for years), they have a nest box, a bird bath and a bird table with food on it. Bird people! 

Cricket teams were back out yesterday after a damp couple of weeks. One local team put six first team players in a lower team, which caused rather a fuss. Honestly, it is all taken so seriously. I have seen grown men have lengthy temper tantrums on more than one occasion. Did you know that there's even scope for the home team's cricket tea provision to be rated and reported upon? And if the umpire makes a wrong call, oh my. It is NEVER forgotten.

I am wondering if I should get a Kindle. I don't really like reading hardbacks, especially if I want to take my book in a bag somewhere, plus sometimes the print is a bit small. I pulled my copy of Pride and Prejudice off of the shelf last night and put it back because the font just wasn't big enough. Any recommendations for which sort of Kindle is best? I don't need it to be all-singing, all-dancing, just easy on the eye if you know what I mean. And lightweight, but I am assuming that they are all lightweight. I would have loved one when I went travelling on my bicycle years ago. As it was, I had a single book with me (Anna Karenina) which I eked out over six months. Yes, it was a long time ago :) 

I hope all is good at your end and that you have the right amount of rain and a good book to read. CJ xx

Sunday 16 July 2023

Elephants in the garden


Photos from an afternoon garden tour at Highgrove House. For overseas peeps, that's the King's country home. And very nice it was too. I booked it ages ago, assuming as I always do that at some distant future date I would somehow have spare time to go swanning around country estates. And of course when it actually came around to it I didn't really, but I went anyway. Work has been busy, busy, busy lately, and I rarely take an afternoon off, so it was lovely.

The guide told us that the garden 'wasn't manicured', and it was really refreshing to see the odd thing that had been nibbled or an apple tree that looked a bit like mine. Apparently the King doesn't much like stuff to be cut back either, so there are lots of climbing plants over the house that aren't to be touched.

The pictures are from outside the private gardens, with no photos allowed inside. You can see inside here though. 

I left with a really good feeling about my own scruffy not-always-productive garden, which was nice. I imagine if I went to the Chelsea Flower Show I'd get home and look at my patch and be a bit despondent. But Highgrove was very encouraging. Let it all grow! It's all brilliant, let's just see what comes up etc. The wildflower meadow had faded this late into the season, but there were still lots of butterflies. 

Takeaways were:

1. Don't give up on the olive tree (mine had some sort of leaf problem and I was thinking about composting it)

2. More wildflowers - keep going and just see what comes up every year

3. Yew always looks amazing

4. Keep planting thyme - theirs hadn't done very well, so they were replanting

5. A group of life-sized elephants on the grass is absolutely the way to go

I bought a little salvia to go with my (small) collection, none of which are doing very well at the moment for some reason. I suspect some old potting compost might have been to blame, so I've repotted.

I've been loving the showers (except yesterday when me and the dog pushed our luck on a long evening walk and had to stand under some plum trees for about 15 minutes to avoid a deluge). The local authority have planted lots of saplings and they were struggling in the dry weather, so it has been nice to seem them well-watered and perking up nicely.

In other news it is of course perilously close to the end of term. As above, I always imagine I will somehow magically have time off, only to take on a load of work at the last minute. But the urchins are fairly self-sufficient and don't generally need to be taken to the seaside or to see the goat at the garden centre any more. 

I am knowing my limits this year and not pretending I will accomplish all sorts of amazing summer things, such as fantastic trips, arts and crafts projects, minor garden construction (raised beds, hedgehog house refurbishment and insect hotels), working through the To Be Read pile, decluttering and award-winning cuisine. You can see I haven't even thought about it.

How is everything at your end? I hope summer (or winter) is chugging along nicely. CJ xx