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Friday, 19 October 2012

The green and soggy garden

I can barely believe the amount of rain that has fallen so far this month - over 140mm! That's a huge amount for a whole month let alone at just over half way through. Consequently I no longer have a weedy scruffy lawn as my OH managed to mow the main bit of lawn during one of the few dry sunny days we have had recently. It now resembles something like a real lawn - so long as you don't inspect it too closely, of course!

This photo was taken just before mowing, whilst my beautiful new-last-year 'Forest Pansy' was looking at its best. I kept meaning to get out my better camera as my compact doesn't do colours justice, but 5 days later it looked like the next photo, and by the time I did manage to wrench that macro lens off my Canon, there were only about 10 leaves left on it. That'll teach me!

Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy'
Taken 7th October

Harumph. But look at my lawn! I can even call it a lawn now!

I think I still have a hosepipe out which I really think can be put away for the winter now.

We also have a full lake, which filled up in just 24 hours!

The ducks under the 'peach on the beach'.
The rain came too late to water this poor tree
so the fruit was small, dry and inedible.

The ducks are not really very friendly at all and I can't get close to photograph them. We've gone from the stage of frantic preening if I went anywhere near them, to now a lot of chuntering noises, then they just swim off. Really we hardly see them during the day but they do at least come up to the shed at night to be put away safely.

And as for eggs.... well Doris the Saxon stopped laying about June and Rachel the Rouen, the one who went broody for a few days, was only laying intermittently after that, and now she's stopped too. That'll teach me to buy pretty coloured ducks. It's obviously exactly the same as laying hens. If you want duck eggs, buy white ducks. If you want hen eggs, buy red hens. 

Dirk and Doris the Saxons

Rubbish photo because I have to creep up and take it through the undergrowth
or they swim off!!!

Some of my shrubs are starting to exhibit autumn colours and some not yet at all, such as my purple smoke bush. It has doubled in size this year due to the wet spring - basically it's grown as much in one year as it did the previous six!! I'm going to have to do some serious pruning next spring as it's flopping out all over the lawn.

Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple' still showing it's full purple colours.
This turns a lovely orangey colour in autumn.

The green smoke bush is just starting to show signs of turning. It will turn a beautiful orangey pinky colour eventually.

Cotinus coggygria 'Golden Spirit'
(I think, it had no label)

I'm so pleased about my Liquidambar though, as I'd showed that here a month or so back looking so sad and losing leaves due to being too dry!

Liquidambar just beginning to get some autumn colour.
This tree looks great through to November.

This next shrub is quite unassuming, having flowers that you'd barely notice in late spring, if not for the buzzing noise that comes continually from it. That's the bees who absolutely adore it. In autumn these berries will not last long, as soon, every time I walk past it flocks of birds will fly off squawking! So it is really good value for the wildlife and also screens off (to a certain extent) our ugly white propane tank.

Cotoneaster franchetii

Still looking quite colourful despite the plants
getting such regular drenching

Another thing I've noticed, which I haven't seen much in autumn for several years now, is the amount of fungi springing up everywhere. The first few years we were here I tried to take an interest and learn about fungi, but soon gave up as I seemed to have absolutely nothing that I could possibly ID. I wasn't really looking for edibles, just wondering what they were. I haven't noticed these ones before though - they are quite huge.

Unknown fungi

The chickens have been complaining that they haven't featured in this blog for quite a while. Well I told them that's because they don't stand still and pose for me, and all I get is a load of shots with blurry heads. It still didn't sink in so this is the only shot where I have no blurs. I did want to feature Marleen though. She's the grey scruffball at the back. Oh yes, it's moulting time, but whilst the others will do it by either just losing, say, their tail feathers, or looking generally a bit tatty all over for a while, Marleen has to go for it big time and do her 'just out of the battery farm' impersonation.

Front to back:
Andrea, Rusty, Snowy, Freddy the cockerel and Marleen
Clemmy is out of the picture.

Hen laying is down big time too - I'm barely getting a dozen eggs a week now! Andrea (the botty in the foreground) is managing to have a feminine looking moult and still lay most days, and Rusty manages about four or five a week. I'm not surprised Marleen has stopped laying though. I've never seen any of my hens moult like this before - and she's already got some new feathers around her neck here where she was bald before! She's happy though; I think she's quite a simple hen, so long as she has food that's all that matters to her.  :-)

In these two photos they are eating the outer leaves of my chinese cabbage, which is very holey and I'm actually seeing slugs sitting on the leaves eating it during the day, and I've even seen a sneaky snail sitting on a chilli leaf! Hope it tries to eat a Cayenne is all I can say!

Marleen, not looking her best!


  1. What an absolutely delightful blog Mandy. I'll definitely be back for more.

    1. Hi Steve and thanks very much for visiting - I really appreciate it!

  2. I'm reading your blog every day Mandy.
    Poor Marleen, she doesn't look very well, to call her a simple hen seems a bit sad!

    Philippa x

    1. She's actually just looking down and unlike some of the others who really do go into a sort of sad dejected mode whilst moulting, she is still a happy hen and moulting doesn't seem to bother her one bit. But she is a little piggy when it comes to food. Chickens aren't really very complex creatures but with her she's not bothered about pecking order, doesn't get grumpy with the others and so long as she gets her grub that's all that seems to matter in Marleen's world! So that's what I mean by simple. Perhaps I should have said an 'easy' hen!

      By the way if you are reading this every day you must be rereading the same posts ha ha! Much as I'd love to lead an exciting life where I could post every day it isn't really possible (and it takes time to write a post/sort out the photos)and I do have to do some other things, you know :-)

  3. I'm glad about Marleen and her world.

    What I meant was I am looking at your blog every day to see if it is updated. That involves reading it. I love your blog.

    P x

    1. Thank you Philippa, it is lovely to hear that. Do you even like when I do rather insect orientated posts though? I try to minimise that a bit although I have got rather interested in them this year due to the macrophotography, but try to keep the blog to a mix of general things. But obviously I can't help it if a pretty butterfly or a bee just happens to be on a plant I'm photographing and nobody minds them. :-)

  4. I love seeing your insects and also I show your blog to other people in my department at work. They all love looking at your pictures when we are at lunch together. Keep up the good work.
    I won't be looking at your blog much for a few days as we are off to France so no internet after tomorrow.
    Just going to read your latest offering!

    Philippa x

    1. I'm really pleased to hear that! I'm glad other people where you work like seeing my pics too. Hope you have a lovely time in France (I haven't time to meet up for various reasons so haven't suggested it and you will probably be busy too). Will email you to catch up privately when you are back. :-)

  5. No time to meet up as we are only over till Tuesday!
    Spending Monday night in that Hotel in Dinan Port before getting the ferry on Tuesday morning.
    Be in touch when we are back.

    Philippa x