Molde warp


The earthmover has been working under the carpet of apple tree leaves and fallen apples. Around this apple tree the turf is totally rucked and rumpled by the handprint-like pink paddles of the mole. I presume flooding (the first of the 2016/2017 winter season) in the lower part of the garden earlier in the week has also concentrated activity.

I picked a barrow-load of fallen apples from under this tree yesterday, the most it’s ever borne, perhaps it’s a Bramley Seedling.

The apples have been dumped at the bottom of the garden for when the Redwings and Fieldfares get really hungry. At the moment they are in the trees eating the few apples still suspended and stripping the hawthorn today.

This morning a splendid russet fox with white tipped tail was hunting the rough grass in the field. So cat-like in movement it rippled through the grass, then pointed tail almost on its haunches poised, pouncing in an arc on a rodent – it got at least one which went down with a couple of chews. Then it came closer to the garden, I went out and it had gone – chickens sleep safely at least tonight.

We also have a Buzzard pair around, one is often seen on the ground in the field in the mornings or sitting on the sheep house or overhead wires.

Thousands of miles away  in many ways – well done Lewis Hamilton for the Abu Dhabi win just now! Farewell and good luck Jenson Button.

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Frost stops play

Frost got the dahlias

So typical of English weather, I could feel the frost nipping at my wellies as I tried to extract a sheep with its head stuck in the field fence in the dark on Wednesday night. Then 2 days later rain, everything soggy and miserable.

So that’s farewell to the dahlias for this year, Salvia Guanajuato which had so much going for it on Monday, and some fuchsias. Farewell forever to this year’s heliotropes, Solanum rantonetti and nasturtiums. Colquhounia frazzed, survival will depend on the severity of this winter. Banana nipped and will need digging up, chopping back and overwintering just frost free. Ricinus still standing but I’ve felled it today anyway to let more light in.

Bit sad to hack down the huge water-filled stems of Dahlia imperialis, not looking forward to digging that up, each summer it puts on more nuggets of tubers and the whole lump gets heavier every year.

Like others on Twitter today, I’m glad I anticipated the frost and picked the last of the dahlia flowers on Monday including Rip City, Chee, Karma Choc and Sam Hopkins.

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Last day of October

Salvia Guanajuato

Salvia Guanajuato with bee bum

After a foggy start this morning the sun is out, although there is a faint mistiness as I look across the field. It’s 16C mid afternoon. A huge streamer of spider’s web metres long gilded by the sun glides slowly westwards.  The tick and rattle of falling leaves is loud in the stillness, the ash and chestnut are nearly all done with shedding.

On the wing

An intermittent chack of jackdaws watching the chicken run for food and occasional burst of rook banter livens up the soundscape.  In amongst this the insistent calls of Long Tailed Tits and short bursts of Great Tit ratatat. Earlier the plaintive cry of a swirling Buzzard.

I’m waiting for the Fieldfares to turn up and feast on the fallen cooking apples (the fat Bramleys create a bit of aural drama as they clatter through the branches and thump to the ground). Continue reading

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It’s all over now


The final night flowerer attempting to open on a cold October evening, this is as far as Ipomea Bona Nox got, sadly it didn’t have the energy to fully open. It may look a lot like your common or garden pestilential convolvulvus at first glance but isn’t. It’s been in the greenhouse since May, slowly building up its buds but it’s too late in the year now. Perhaps we’ll have a better summer next year. Continue reading

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West Dean Gardens – hot house delights

West Dean Gardens GlasshouseI have been to West Dean Gardens in Sussex before but a long while ago and I didn’t remember the glasshouses or cutting garden particularly. This Monday the sun shone, the greenhouses stood to attention, neat and tidy, spic and span. There’s obviously care and pride at work here.

Glasshouses were filled with an abundance of tender bedding plants, the Cuphea ‘Tiny Mice’ in particular absolutely humming with bees. Continue reading

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Not so gladdy


This rogue gladdy appeared in a batch of Mirella

I’ve developed a soft spot for gladioli over the years, both for exuberance and for their later summer flowering, but they can be somewhat trying for a mere amateur! The tawny bed is home to two primulinus hybrids bought years ago from Bob Brown, Hastings and Mrs M Rowley. Hastings, a sandy orange is increasing nicely, Mrs M Rowley is a rich claret but less floriferous. Being primulinus they are small flowered and therefore less vulnerable to wind and rain. They also fit better generally into a ‘soft’ herbaceous planting. Continue reading

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Veddw – a garden of light and shade

Veddw House Garden

Stones record the shifting of names for the place over the centuries.

Yesterday, on a sunny day with a fractious swirling wind we visited Veddw House Garden in Monmouthshire.  We had been meaning to for a while now. I might have been expecting formal herbaceous plantings in amongst the clipped hedge rooms, there weren’t any. I had to adjust my focus to better appreciate this garden.

Continue reading

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Let’s hear it for the humble nasturtium


Nasturtium (Tropeaolum majus) are fabulous fillers this time of year, still looking fresh until the Cabbage White caterpillars do their thing (big round of egg laying going on for the past couple of weeks), and then another flush of leaves and flowers in early autumn. Sadly the butterflies don’t distinguish between the common and my more unusual doubles, Darjeeling Gold and Margaret Long. Continue reading

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A Queen of the Night flowers

Selenicereus - Queen of the NIght cactus

Selenicereus – Queen of the NIght cactus

The bud has been forming for a few months, starting as a small brown furry nub. In the run up to flowering a tiny bead of nectar sat under the tip of the beaky bud. Yesterday at around 5:00pm the first strap of the outer bud loosened and by 10:22pm she was fully open.

Even when the bud was closed yesterday there was a subtle scent, almost primrosy, the fully open flower scent was not as expected but sweet and greeney with a touch of cocoa. Today all is over, a brief burst of glory overnight. Sadly whether pollinated by bats or moths its only companion last night was a stray Green Veined White butterfly. Continue reading

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Lost in the gardens of Heligan

The Jungle at Heligan

We almost (but not quite) had The Lost Gardens of Heligan to ourselves one very rainy early May day. It was my first visit and on such a day the crowds for the most part were either taking shelter in the cafes or jumping into cars and moving on to sunnier places.

Having thought it would be ‘pants’ the jungle was lovely, we only met 3 other people on the walkways,  the misting rain and intimate scale of the planting made it very special. Continue reading

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