I am very sorry for not posting anything for a while but this blog tends to be the Cinderella of all the ones I write. I usually post to my literary blogs on a regular basis (I am not sure if these are the ugly sisters!) and the art ones only slightly less frequently but this one – despite by passion for plants, animals and the landscape of Southern England – gets ignored!
I must also confess to not gardening enough during the summer months. Up to quite recently it was blistering hot and as my studio was much cooler it became even more enticing than usual! I did take a handful of photographs over the summer months which I will share over the next few weeks. I may try and post one photo a day to see if I can build up some kind of momentum – we shall see!
However the picture below is from much longer ago and illustrates my very first greenhouse: which was made from corrugated PVC and purchased in the Sixties and an Alton greenhouse I bought a bit later in my middle teens (with a bit of help from my parents!). The small greenhouse was heated by a blue flame paraffin heater and housed Chrysanthemums in the autumn, lettuce et al through the winter, bedding plants in the spring and tomatoes etc. during the summer months. The larger greenhouse was initially heated by a coal fired hot water pipe system – which unfortunately caught the greenhouse on fire and then by electricity. It housed the start of my cacti and succulent collection and a large selection of pot plants; most of which I grew from seed.
The frames housed overwintering bulbs, vegetable seedlings and other small plants. The rest of the garden, and a very large allotment, belonged to my father.
I was waiting at the bus stop after visiting my father this morning and a red kite sailed over my head. I have seen one or two patrolling the tiny village in the past but this was the closest it had got – unfortunately it looks very small in a hurried smartphone photograph.
They must be in the top ten of the most majestic sights to be seen in the English countryside – the phrase poetry in motion being completely accurate in this case.
I walked to and from town last week and on the return journey I was very surprised to see a Goldcrest in the bushes by the side of the road. It was probably a female as males have a more orange crest. This is the UK’s smallest bird and although not actually rare, in fact the native population is boosted in the winter months by birds from the continent, it is more often found in coniferous woodland than beside the busiest road in town. She was busy searching for small spiders and insects among the bare branches. This sighting really made my day and I wish I had managed to take better photos with my phone.
I was walking the dog along a sheltered path by the railway line on Sunday and saw quite a few Brimstone butterflies. I think this means Spring has finally arrived folks! Having said that in a normal year you can often see an occasional Brimstone on the wing in late February or early March in Southern England – however this is not a normal year and the sight of so many on the wing cheered me up no end. Typically I never had my smartphone with me – although I didn’t really feel energetic enough to run after them for a good shot anyway! They appeared to be all males: the males have yellow wings, hence the name, while the females are off white. It is believed, realistically I think, that the word butterfly is derived from the males of this species
Our Forsythia bush began to open its buds over a week ago and I notice plants all over town are well out now. Although it is depressing in a way I quite like it when the flowers begin to fade as by then the leaves are showing and the combination of pale green and warm yellow is very attractive.
Forsythia on a bank
Incidentally, my wife’s front border which I photographed a bit earlier is looking even prettier now after the rain at the weekend. However in our large garden at the back of the house the weeds are growing alarmingly fast for the same reason. I am not sure when I will get round to attending to them as I have to clean out the fish pond over the weekend and I really must start potting. The turtles do eat the dandelions but unfortunately not in suitable quantities! The rabbit only eats the flowers – we have the fussiest rabbit on the planet!
The greenhouses are looking a bit untidy at the moment as I am starting to sort out some plants and repropagate those that need it. I am hoping to start potting earlier this year. The last few years I haven’t begun until May, which is far too late really (with the possible exception of mesembs which grow until late in the year).
A lot of plants are beginning to grow now and more are in flower.
Forgotten what Genus this! It is Bergeranthus or similar
Crassula hybrid – probably Springtime
Echeveria derenbergii – smaller form. In the old days I did have a larger form as well which I would like to get back
Aloe Variegata – I lost one last year so I have kept it drier this season. Indoors they are impossible to kill but in the greenhouse they suffer if too damp
My wife June looks after the tiny front garden of our rented property. It really is small with a large cherry laurel hedge at the front and our neighbour’s shrubs to the side. The soil is extremely poor but we are doing our best to improve it. The borders in front of the bay window and in front of the hedge tend to be a bit dry particularly in the summer months, however there is a nice show of spring flowers at the moment despite the bad weather – hopefully it will be even better next year.