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Saturday, 28 May 2016

Scenes from an overgrown garden

Hi everyone, I am back from my two week holiday in England. I've had a wonderful time staying with my mum in Somerset and have had some great days out. Lots of photos to share from a few of these trips but first I needed to record my jungle garden before the mower got in there! The photos don't really do the long grass justice, nor the amount of flowerheads from the tall yellow flowered plant - think it's called Hawkbit and it is everywhere in the lawn.

We arrived home on Thursday morning and in the afternoon we duly got out there to start the grand tidy up, only for it to pour with rain soon after we got outside! K ended up doing the orchard with the hand mower as long wet grass is too much for the ride on mower. Yesterday he did more mowing with the hand mower and even that struggled with the wet grass. I'm fed up with removing cleavers from my flower beds, whose seeds unfortunately have got into my compost. Even the chickens have had enough of them. I have a LOT of work to do out here!

This really amazed me - I haven't seen Horse Chestnuts self seeding before! I'm not sure how their conkers got pushed into the soil, or maybe the seeds just open up and root whilst sitting in the grass thatch and moss.

Looking towards what was once a pristine veggie patch.

The path down to the pond.

Really I was most enamoured by my mess of a veg patch which is now very colourful and really buzzing with bees, enjoying the Borage and the Phacelia which has opened up whilst we've been away. I'm always happy to see wild Poppies and it won't be long before the masses of Opium Poppies flower too. I have had to weed kill the paths though as it was getting really hard to get around in there. There are still a few strawberries but it's yet another job I never got around to, but I'm planning to root some runners and start again in a new place later this year.

Veggies! I've never left parsnips or carrots to seed before, so it will be fun to see their flowers. The parsnips are the tall plants on the right near the top, with the carrots bottom left. Currants in the background which have been tended to.

In the background here where the white flowers are is my original Pollinator Meadow and the white flowers are Dame's Rocket - another plant which is brilliant for both bees and butterflies.

First Striped Shieldbug (Graphosoma lineatum) I've seen this year but I later noticed there are dozens of them eating my Bronze Fennel and causing some damage to the foliage. The Bronze Fennel is popular as the last two days there has been a Swallowtail butterfly flitting about it, hopefully it's a female laying eggs!

I haven't been able to capture the bees very well as I really need to use my dslr and macro lens - think I'll get that out of the cupboard and see how I get on with it again. But my newish bridge camera is not bad for zooming in on them. You can click on any of these photos to view them larger - most look better that way with more detail showing.

A Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus) butterfly resting on a Verbascum leaf.

This is a phone photo - typical that I spotted this Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) just as my camera battery died - but I had the phone as back up!

Somehow the only decent Nora Barlow mix Aquilegia that I grew from seed managed to self seed on entirely the other side of the house!

These are a few phone photos I took on 11th May just before leaving - I had intended to show them to my Mum, but forgot! So to my brother, please show her all these pics.

These are the two Ivy Leafed Geraniums which survived the winter!

Mini Health Update

I'm glad to say that I did not have a moment of depression whilst in England, nor, and far more importantly, since I got home. The fact that I found joy in my own garden again and got excited enough to take the photos of the grass and veg patch, and start to look at the insects again and enjoy the buzzing of the bees attests to that. I've also managed to sit without any donut cushions in many coffee shops and restaurants around Somerset and Devon..... well I wasn't bloody well carrying them around with me all day when out and about! :-)

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Going back a bit and catching up with the garden

I seem incapable of keeping up with my blog - in a way maybe it's a good thing that I have too many photos from too many outings to get around to sharing. Makes a nice change! Truth be told I haven't been in the mood for sitting at the big computer processing photos, and I've been out working in the garden recently and whilst I'm in the mood for that, that comes first.

A few photos of work in progress in the garden:

This has been a nightmare - weeding around my currant bushes, which hasn't been done for about two years and so the creeping buttercups had got everywhere, and there are other plants just inside the fence too which I wanted to keep, so it's taken me hours on my hands and knees hand weeding. But it's now done!

Corner shady bed having a partial revamp.

I've some older photos here I wasn't going to post but I liked the photo of the wren and didn't know how to fit that into another post. So here are a few taken way back in March when we made our annual visit to the Marais de Sougeal, which is a water meadow which is purposefully flooded in late winter and is an important stopping off point for migrating water fowl. As usual all the birds are a long way away, although this time we caught the Marais just as the water was draining and there was a nice selection of birds, and some not as far away as usual. We could also get to the newest hide which is actually inaccessible when the water level is really high - duh to the planning of that one!

There are always a lot of Pintails here.

What was that I said about never seeing Canada Geese here? This is a first I think for us in France. There are abundant in the UK as they have been introduced, but as we are not that far away I guess sometimes they fly over the channel!

I tried to get a bit closer as this is shot from the footpath, but they weren't having any of it and wandered off to safety further away.

Do you spy the distant Great White Egret? We saw a fair few of them this spring; even on the way to the supermarket twice we saw one standing in a field near a lake! And another time we saw a flock of them in a field near a lake, including some flying towards them which was great to see.

Yet this is supposed to be their distribution in Europe! It's the map at the bottom and blue is their overwintering distribution. Now my book is 20 years out of date, but I checked a recent book and it hasn't changed. I'd say they need to update both Little and Great White Egret distributions as they are becoming more and more common here in Brittany.

On the way back to the car we were rewarded with this Wren quite close up, however I only had time for two snaps before it was gone.

Some phone photos here from the day we went out shopping to get me some new 'fat' jeans and trousers - having an impromptu lunch afterwards. I enjoy applying different filters to people and flower photos to get fun effects. :-)

We don't see Herons by the pond as often as we used to - they would hang around often when there were baby Moorhens around as they make great Heron food. This was taken through the kitchen window and is at the far end of the lake.

A baby Blackbird having a preen and demanding food.

A Thrush (Mistle Thrush?) - yup I still can't tell the difference!

In the garden all is pretty now it's blossom time. This ornamental cherry by the pond has looked fabulous but its time is so, so brief.

Another photo given a bit of treatment.

Forget Me Nots - it's their season now and I love how they self seed and appear in amongst other plants with a lovely touch of bright blue.

It's been bluebell time here for a while too and although they are thugs which take over somewhat they are so pretty - here with Euphorbia characias.

Aquilegias are starting to bloom - here with bluebells in the background.

And eating cherries are now in full bloom; with the lovely weather we are having at the moment their blossom looks fantastic.

Here's a little video I took with my phone yesterday. I only discovered there was a video on it recently, when I was looking at a photo I took of my hens and I could swear I saw the hen's bum wriggle. Thought it was my eyesight then I realised I had taken a 1 second video by mistake! Duh, the words Smart, Phone, and Mandy do not go together. :-)

I don't know what happened to the quality of that video - I tried to show it larger but the quality is rubbish - yet it views larger on the computer much more clearly. I didn't bother with YouTube but just uploaded directly from my Mac. Oh well. :-( 

I still have moths to share, not to mention a four day MoHo trip....... will try to get it together but as we're off to England next week (and gazillions more photos will be taken) don't hold your breath! :-)