autumn

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From the bottom of the garden there are lovely views over the River Teme  meandering across its flood plain below us. There are oxbow lakes off to the left with a colony of Canada geese grazing their banks and on the river we regularly see Mute swans, or rather more often hear the strong whoosh of their wings as they fly along the course of the river.

It was a good day for birds today. A red kite hunted overhead whilst a buzzard was mobbed by the rooks that have suddenly become noisy. There are always buzzards about here, and the kites have been over quite frequently. I saw a bird of prey cloaking its kill in the water meadow but by the time I had fetched the binoculars for a closer look, it had gone.

We put up the posts for the cordon apple trees this afternoon, having prepared the bed earlier this week. It looks as if we will be ready for the trees when they arrive later on this month. There are 2 overgrown,mature trees in the garden too and as both are reasonably healthy we may have a go at renovating them. One, excitingly, is carrying mistletoe. How splendid id that?

One of the next jobs is to weed some of the beds and cut back some of the tallest perennials to a more manageable height. Another job will be to edge the beds to control the spread of grass into them. That in itself will keep me quiet this winter, as there are some hefty borders here. Very excitingly I have been finding hidden plants and some of them still carry fragile plant labels.I love knowing what varieties of plants are growing here, especially as there are acid lovers in my life now, a rare treat after living in Wiltshire for nearly 2 decades.My star discovery so far is an in bud Hammamelis intermedia ‘Diane’ that is being overshadowed by a large and as yet unidentified shrub. My shrub knowledge is being challenged and found woefully lacking at the moment.Time to add a book to my Christmas list I think.

march

If ever a month were well named it is March and on this first day of Spring, it is time for a new post.

I began to write the last one on March 8th, unpublished as many of my posts seem to be, where I speculated on how the vagaries of the weather in this latitude change from winter to Summer and all seasons in between  in 24 hours, mostly prompted by a visit to Stonehenge where we were whipped by hail laden winds on one day, only to spend a day in the garden in pleasant spring sun the next. There was a sense of the pent-up energy of Spring in the air that day, and seedlings sown in the cold frame were just emerging.

Two weeks later, March has truly marched on. Not the tentative steps towards warmth and growth of February, each one made and then held back by chills, the promise shown and then hidden away again. No, March is the Roman God of months, relentlessly pursuing the single goal of growth. No longer is there a  feeling of spring pent-up, but of  it being released in the first great outpouring of energy that brings buds and birds nests, butterflies and bees and hosts of golden daffodils and chunky broad bean shoots and trays full of seedlings on every windowsill.

As I type this the sun has just peeped over the garden wall illuminating the daffodils, the sparrows and starlings dragging dead plant matter out of the borders to build their untidy nests under the gutters and the bluetits manicuring the lawn as they pull moss for their duvet of a nest in the birdbox. In the hedge,  the blackbirds attempt their annual exercise in triumph of hope over expectation as they start to construct in leaf and twig, stem and stalk. I always feel most sorry for them, rearing youngsters for cat food as they seem to. It took them 4 attempts last year to produce fledged youngsters. You have to admire their persistence.

The first butterfly I saw this season was a Comma but since I have seen Brimstones and yesterday as I went to collect the line dried washing from the garden, another ecological benefit of air drying the laundry became obvious when I spotted a new and very beautiful Ashy Mining Bee (Andrena cineraria) perched on the top of a sheet, chilly but wrapped well in her fur coat. She is a little early for her favourite fruit tree flowers, but the buds are swelling on the pear and she wont have to wait long. About a cm long, these little bees are peaceful and harmless and fantastic pollinators, and the only black and grey striped bee in the UK.