As you know, we have been busy with home improvements this year so haven’t had the time to go on our usual walks very often and I haven’t taken as many photos as usual. Richard and I did manage a walk or two in April along the lanes and over the fields.
Our local farmer has taken to sheep farming in recent years and this year he coppiced many of his overgrown hedges and then waited to see what came up again. He has selected the plants he wishes to retain in the hedges and has cut out the rest. He has put up stock fencing next to the new slim-line hedge and all is looking very different now.
We took our usual walk across the fields just after the coppicing had been done. All the heaps of wood were burnt and you can see a smouldering heap of wood-ash in the centre of this picture.
The last time we had walked this route there had been a thick hedge just in front of the ditch in the foreground.
I was quite concerned about the loss of the hedges because they are usually full of nesting, singing birds in the spring. However, the farmer does care about the local wildlife and had left reassuring notices next to the ex-hedges stating what he was intending to do.
A view across the open fields. This walk was taken at the beginning of April while the weather was still bright and warm.
This oak tree had been blown down in storm ‘Doris’. The green you can see is the ivy that had been growing up the tree trunk. Most healthy trees can cope with ivy growing on them and this one had seemed to be healthy.
An upright tree this time, with holes it in, probably made by woodpeckers.
Another view of the fields and that blue sky!
Red Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum) and Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)
The Blackthorn blossom (Prunus spinosa) was very good this spring.
This rather dull and unassuming little plant (not a clear photo, I’m afraid) has the interesting name of Sticky Mouse-ear (Cerastium glomeratum)! The leaves are the shape of a mouse’s ear and they are also sticky as you can see in the photo; the leaves are covered with grains of sand.
I found yet another Barren Strawberry plant. (Potentilla sterilis)
It is easy to tell the difference between a Wild Strawberry and a Barren Strawberry even if there are no flowers to be seen. The leaves of the Barren Strawberry are a mid-green colour and are matt whereas the Wild Strawberry leaves are shiny and yellow-green. The leaves of both plants are toothed but the Barren Strawberry’s terminal tooth (the one at the tip of each leaflet) is smaller and shorter than the ones next to it. You can see this quite clearly on the photo above. The Wild Strawberry’s terminal tooth is as long as or longer than the ones next to it. The flowers are different too. The Barren Strawberry flowers have large gaps between the petals and the sepals are clearly seen in the gap. The Wild Strawberry’s petals are close together and the sepals are hidden behind them.
A Blackthorn hedge in flower
A view of St. Peter’s church tower in the distance
One of my favourite views through a gap in the hedge
Another view from our walk. The field close-by has barley or wheat growing in it; the yellow field in the distance is of oil-seed rape.
A field of Oil-seed Rape
This photo is of the bank of a ditch and shows the lumps of chalk that can be found in the clay soil here
The verge at the side of the lane was covered with Lesser Celandines (Ficaria verna)
Another view across the fields…
Ash tree flowers ( Fraxinus excelsior)
Most of our fields are surrounded by deep ditches.
Annual Mercury (Mercurialis annua)
Most of the Mercury that grows here is the perennial Dog’s Mercury which is found in (sometimes) large swathes under hedges and in the woodland. The Mercury in the photo above is the Annual Mercury which doesn’t grow in swathes and is branched (unlike the Dog’s Mercury). It is not a native plant but has been here for at least 1000 years, introduced from mainland Europe.
Cowslips (Primula veris)
A pond at the side of the lane
The last of the Primroses (Primula vulgaris)
Part of St. Margaret South Elmham common
Another Blackthorn hedge
Another short walk we took was to view the orchids flowering along the verge near to us.
Early Purple Orchids (Orchis mascula)
Early Purple Orchids
We also saw purple Bugle (Ajuga reptans) and Dandelions (Taraxacum agg.)
This seems to be a Cowslip/Primrose cross
An over-exposed and out-of-focus photo of Lady’s-smock/ Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis)
Richard and I also called in at our neighbour Cordelia’s Daffodil Sunday when every year she opens her beautiful garden to the public in aid of St. Margaret’s church.
Her garden is full of spring flowers
The weather was perfect for the open garden this year
The Old Rectory
Looking towards the church from the Old Rectory
The drive up to the house
I apologise for the length of this post!
My music choice this time is ‘The Banks of Green Willow’ by George Butterworth
We weren’t very adventurous this spring, staying close to home and taking things easy, so there wasn’t too much to blog about.
A visit to St Michael’s church on the first mild spring day in March
We admired the ‘Narnia’ lamp post by the gate.
We were unable to tell the time as the sun failed to shine.
The peaceful churchyard.
Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris ) The flowers are in the centre of the bloom and have no petals. The 5 – 8 petal-like sepals are bright shiny yellow.
Peacock butterfly (Inachis io) It was very sluggish and was still in the grass outside the church when we came out again.
A pair of Greylags (Anser anser) took up residence in our garden as they usually do each spring
We enjoy their company.
They constructed a nest on the island in the middle of the big pond but after ten days it was abandoned. Feathers were spread everywhere. We don’t know what happened but we suspect an otter or an American mink was to blame.
The abandoned nest.
After we lost our summerhouse in the storm earlier this year we spent some time clearing the area behind it and discovered this tree with the deformed trunk. What could have caused this?
We enjoy seeing all the birds that visit our garden including the Pied Wagtails (Motacilla alba). Not a good shot as the bird hurried into the dappled shade just as I took its picture.
A sunset seen from the back of the house.
On a visit to our church at Rumburgh we saw this Mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) resting in the shade of a gravestone.
Primroses (Primula vulgaris) in the churchyard
I love the informality of our country churchyards and I like to see the wild flowers there. The wild flowers are just as much God’s work as any garden flower or exotic bloom. They have a haven in our churchyards and should be safe from herbicides.
Barren Strawberry (Potentilla sterilis)
Richard on his way to church
Meanwhile, back in my garden…..
My Pieris with its new leaves of red and its little white bell flowers
I have been growing these hyacinth bulblets on in shallow tubs and they are now ready for planting out in the garden to flower next spring.
Scented narcissi and pink aubretia
Elinor gave me some more aubretia, a mauve variety, as a gift on Mothering Sunday
Lathyrus and scilla
Pasque flowers. These began flowering just a couple of days after Easter Sunday.
I had a large patch of these red saxifrage but the deer scraped most of them up. I’m hoping they will spread again.
It is over a month since I last wrote a diary post. We haven’t done very much in that time but the days are getting longer and there are signs of spring in the garden and hedgerows.
The central elements on our old toaster had stopped working so we have bought ourselves a new toaster and this new one manages to toast both sides of a slice of bread at the same time! It has a ‘bagel button’ (though as I have never eaten a bagel I think I would prefer to call it a ‘teacake button’) which toasts one side and warms the other. We can now re-live the old toaster experience, except in reverse.
Snowdrops in bud
Another excitement has been the emptying and repair of the septic tank. Only those of you who do not have mains sewage can truly relate to this. The tank was well overdue for emptying and we knew it needed repairing a year ago but we have been let down by our usual contractor and have had to find someone new. The new contractor arrived and did what he had to do and was efficient and professional. An added bonus, as far as we were concerned, was the wind direction on the day.
Hazel catkins in the hedge
We have decided to have all our internal doors replaced and a carpenter has visited and priced up the job for us. He will be doing the work over three days next week. Richard will then have to spend quite a lot of time painting the doors, as well as all the skirting boards and the banisters. We hope to redecorate the hall, stairs and landing and get a new carpet some time in the next few months.
I’m not sure how many hazel nuts we will have on this tree this year. The female flowers have appeared before the male catkins have matured.
At the very end of January we had a morning prayer service at our church of St Michael and St Felix at Rumburgh. The day before the service Richard and I called in at the church to make sure everything was tidy and to set the heating to come on well before the service. It was a cold day but inside the church was even colder than out in the open!
I found the first rather bedraggled primroses of the year in a sheltered spot in the churchyard.
I also found my first snowdrops of the year
This gravestone has a skull engraved on it. Richard was asked to see if it was still in the graveyard recently as there had been a report that it might have gone missing.
The west door, which isn’t used anymore.
The west window
Work will start on March the 20th on the new tower screen in the church. We have been saving for years and years to get the work done and at last it is about to happen. Once the screen is in place the tower will be shut off from the body of the church and we hope it might be less draughty and warmer.
Black Spleenwort (Asplenium adiantum-nigrum) growing in the mortar on the wall of the church
Elinor has now left the City College but we hope this is only a temporary thing. As I mentioned in my last diary post she wants to enrol on a one year Art and Design course for older students and has therefore filled out the application form. We have been notified that the college has received the form and I hope we will hear that Elinor has an interview soon. At the interview she will be expected to hand in a review of an exhibition she has been to see recently and with that in mind, we went to the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich and viewed an exhibition of 20th century Japanese photography. Photography was not allowed in the exhibition hall but there is a large collection of world art on display in the main gallery, most of the exhibits donated by Lord and Lady Sainsbury.
Below are my favourites from the main gallery.
Edgar Degas – Little Dancer Aged Fourteen
Edgar Degas – Little Dancer Aged Fourteen
A beautiful Benin bronze – the Head of an Oba; early 16th century
Henry Moore – Mother and Child
Whistling bottles from Equador – one in the shape of an owl and the other is a bird sitting on eggs or pods. Both 1000 – 100 BC
Another couple of exhibits from Equador
Sketch for a Portrait of Lisa by Francis Bacon
Standing Jizo Bosatsu – Japan (1185-1333)
The top exhibit with the ram’s head is a backstrap from a sword or dagger hilt – India late 17th century The lower exhibit is an archer’s thumb-ring in the form of a bird – India 17th – 18th century
Left rear – Image of the Goddess Kaumari, India 17th century. Right rear – Shiva as Chandrashekharamurti, South India c. AD 1100. Front centre – Figure of Chamunda Devi, Nepal/Tibet 17th/18th century
Walking Hippopotamus – Egypt c. 1880 BC
The Sainsbury Centre. One of the first major buildings designed by Sir Norman Foster, it was completed in 1978.
It is a steel clad building with one face almost entirely glazed.
By the late 80’s the collection had grown so much that Foster was asked to design an extension. He decided to build underground and this is one of the entrances to it.
The new basement has a curved glass frontage that emerges from the slope underneath the original building overlooking the man-made lake. This new wing can only be seen from the lake but as it was very muddy there and beginning to go dark on a very gloomy day, I was unable to photograph it.
The University of East Anglia’s grounds looking towards the lake
Part of the university. There are many items of sculpture to be seen here.
Another Henry Moore sculpture
The University has an excellent creative writing department and many well known writers have studied here. Tracy Chevalier; Kazuo Ishiguro; Ian McEwan; Rose Tremain – to name but a few.
I managed to do some work in the garden on Sunday; the first time in many weeks that I have spent more than a couple of minutes outside.
Some weeks ago I moved three tubs of spring bulbs – snowdrops with Tete-a-tete daffodils in two tubs and little blue crocuses in the third – from their winter-quarters behind the greenhouse to the front of the house under the kitchen window. They were ready to bloom and they have brightened up the area near the front door. On Sunday I moved the rest of the pots and tubs away from the back of the greenhouse either to the front of the house or to the rear near the conservatory.
The area round the greenhouse has become very wet and waterlogged and the pots were sitting in puddles. Richard and I had a talk about how to solve this problem and I suggested a French drain ( a trench filled with gravel) immediately round the greenhouse and then we discussed again our idea of putting flagstones round the greenhouse to make it nicer to walk on than muddy grass. We have a plastic compost bin near to the greenhouse and a lidded water-butt behind the greenhouse – the water-butt will then go on the flags and so will the compost bin. The water-butt keeps sinking into the ground despite the bricks and flints it is standing on (there must be quite a collection under the water-butt by now). Also, we often get rats, mice and/or voles getting into the compost bin and having the bin on hard-standing would stop that little game! They dig tunnels that come up under the bin and then make themselves at home amongst the potato peelings and weeds.
One of the daffodils that have started blooming round the big pond
We also discussed where we would put the new potting shed. We have a very old tumbledown shed in the middle of the garden. It is rotting and disintegrating very quickly and we need to replace it and we don’t want to use the same site for the new shed. We have a very nice tool shed near the greenhouse so the new potting shed with a large window and bench will go next to the tool shed. This will keep all the out-buildings together in one place and will save us a lot of time walking from one side of the garden to the other.
Witch-hazel by our front door
I am considering drawing a plan of our garden as it is now and scanning it so that I can include it in this blog. When we make changes to the garden I can then update the plan.
This is our new summer house
I mentioned in a former post that our old summerhouse was demolished and the base was extended in readiness for a replacement. The new building arrived and was put up during a gale on 8th February and is just what Richard wanted. He has been enjoying his room with a view and often sits inside it looking out over the big pond.
Hazel catkins on one of our Hazel trees
A poor photo of a female hazel flower. You can just see the little red tuft at the top of the bud-like object in the centre of the photo
Behind the summerhouse (you can’t see it from the angle the photo was taken from) is our large open compost heap where we put our bulkier garden clippings and waste. Next door’s chickens are often here turning it over for us and kicking it about and in the summer Richard often finds Grass Snakes sleeping in its warmth. Richard doesn’t like snakes.
Not all of the Hawthorn berries have been eaten yet. These two had fallen from an overhanging Hawthorn branch above and caught on this Elm twig
I have also mentioned in former posts that the garden is large and is mainly laid to grass. There are a couple of vegetable beds near the summerhouse and another mixed vegetable and flower bed half way up the garden. I had started to use this mixed bed when we moved in to this house but I haven’t had the time to do much to it since my father died and Elinor started suffering so badly with anxiety. Most of my plants there have died and couch grass and ox-eye daisies have taken over. Richard is using part of the bed for his dahlias and chrysanthemums and there is a rhubarb plant and some blackberry canes there too.
The big pond
The arable field to the rear of our house
There is an old rose arbour next to the mixed bed and on this side of the arbour Richard has made a flowerbed for his favourite flowers. He has also started to make a shrubbery fairly near to our septic tank. We have a large gas tank close to the house and I have made a small flowerbed on the northern side of it and filled it mainly with spring flowers. I haven’t weeded it recently and this will be a project for the next time I get outside.
There are narrow flowerbeds most of the way round the house which I look after and I have also started to landscape the area to the south of the house. I had made a flowerbed near the hedge at the rear of the house but again, I had to abandon this when Dad died and Elinor started to need more support and I had much less free time. Many of my plants are in pots and tubs waiting to find a proper home. I hope to make a gravel garden at the front of the house with paths through it from the front door to the drive way. I bought the gravel for this project eight years ago!
Cherry-plum blossom in our hedge
Cherry-plum or Myrobalan Plum (Prunus cerasifera) is not a native tree but has become naturalised here and is often found in hedges. It is often confused with Blackthorn or Sloe (Prunus spinosa) but the Blackthorn flowers open before the leaves come out and the Cherry-plum’s flowers and leaves open at the same time. The cherry-plum isn’t so spiny as Blackthorn.
The corner pond at the front of the house.
My music choice today is a song written by B A Robertson and Mike Rutherford shortly after the death of their respective fathers. It is sung by a favourite singer of mine, Paul Carrack, whose father died when Paul was eleven years old. It is a song about the regret we have when we lose a relative and realise all the things we should have said to them when they were alive. I am so glad I was able to tell my father how much I loved him and appreciated the love he had for me.
We have been fairly busy during the past few weeks with not much time for trips out. Not that the weather has been conducive to those type of activities; we get one quite nice day with sunshine and a bit of warmth and then we revert to cold, windy days with grey skies and some rain too. We are still getting cold nights and looking at the photographs I took this time last year, the flowers and blossom I am seeing now were ones I saw then during the second half of April. The photos I am including in this post have been mainly taken on the few nice days we’ve had this month.
I took my mother to the hospital for her six-week check-up and we were sorry to be told that both her eyes had suffered a bleed or some damage and she would have to return to have injections in both eyes at the same time. We duly returned a few days later and she had the injections. Her eyesight has deteriorated again and for someone who has always enjoyed reading she is finding it so hard not to be able to read with ease any more. She can’t read sub-titles on the TV quickly enough either so has had to give up watching her favourite foreign-language programmes. She has also been told her kidneys are not functioning too well and her GP is having to re-think what medication she should be taking now. She is a brave and sensible woman and is trying to make the best of the situation.
Crabapple ‘Harry Baker’
My mother-in-law has now moved into her care-home. The actual move caused her some distress and she is still very unhappy. She had lived in her home for over forty years and she had been very happy there. She knows that she wouldn’t be able to care for herself if she went back home, even with a full care package, as she is almost totally immobile now and has so many other serious medical problems. But that thought doesn’t take much of the sadness and frustration away; it probably adds to it. Richard and his brother spent two full days last week going through her whole house finding the few things she would be able to take with her to the home and then trying to decide what to do with the rest of her belongings. They had four trips to the tip to get rid of things no longer needed and have stored the rest of her possessions in my brother-in-law’s cellar. My poor mother-in-law is sad that she has to sell her house to pay for her care and that she won’t be able to leave anything to her sons when she dies.
My eldest daughter Alice is working hard on the few corrections that have to be made to her thesis before it is printed and bound. She is also rehearsing for her next production with her drama group. Because of her work schedule she won’t be able to visit us until the beginning of June. We haven’t seen her since 31st December – the longest time we have ever gone without seeing each other.
Bergenia flowers. I took this photo on the 5th of May thinking that they may not be around that much longer. In past years I have had all my bergenia flowers eaten by deer or rabbits almost as soon as they came out. Not this year (so far). They are still flowering and have got so tall and look wonderful.
Elinor has taken her Art exam and has finished and handed in all her course-work. She was pleased with the way her exam went. She managed to do all she had wanted to do and didn’t panic at all. Of course, she is now starting to worry that she hasn’t done enough and might not pass her exam! She has an interview on Wednesday with tutors of the next two-year course she has applied to go on. She wants to do Graphic Art and we and her current tutors think that she will do very well.
Lathyrus ‘Spring Beauty’
We are currently applying for assistance for Elinor for next year. This will provide her with one-to-one mentors who will be able to help her if she experiences anxiety at college and it may also be possible to provide her with different equipment and/or furniture which she may need because of her mild scoliosis. She suffers from frequent back pain especially when she has to stand for any length of time.
She has her other exams during the first two weeks in June and is trying to revise for these at the moment. English and Psychology are no problem to her and she is predicted to do well in both these exams but it is Maths as always which is causing her, and us all, such headaches.
Heavy rain on 8th May
Dove’s-foot Crane’s-bill (Geranium molle)
Richard is fine and is getting used to the fact that he will need to be on medication for the rest of his life. Join the club, I say! He will be seeing the specialist in a few months time to have his situation reviewed with regard to the lesion on his pituitary gland. Will he or won’t he have to have an operation to have it removed? He is counting down the days until his retirement at the end of August but in the meantime is having to work very hard at work and has been allocated a number of jobs to do at locations all over the country, all to be done in the next couple of months. The firm is getting its money’s worth out of him before he goes. He is naturally saddened about his mother’s situation but knows she is being cared for properly now.
Not a good photo of Bush Vetch (Vicia sepium)
I continue to have a problem with my dry throat. I have seen a different doctor at our local surgery a couple of times and he has prescribed artificial saliva spray and also pastilles that should stimulate saliva production. This all sounds unpleasant but the treatment has improved matters a little. I would have liked to find out why I suddenly got a dry throat in January, which can be very uncomfortable at times, and would also like to know if there is anything I am doing or eating which has brought it on. It would be good to know that I could get rid of it by a change in life-style. I cannot get anyone interested in this and am just supplied with medication to alleviate the symptoms. The GP says I am to tell my Rheumatology specialist about my dry throat when I next go to see her – there is a possible connection between one of the tablets I take, rheumatoid arthritis and dry throats. I asked if the specialist might be able to do anything for me. Oh no, I doubt it, said the GP, she will just find it interesting! The one unfortunate side-effect is I am unable to sing properly any more. I get great pleasure from singing and hoped to be able to re-join a choir when circumstances allowed but if things stay as they are I would be a liability. It saddens me that I have had to give up so many hobbies because of my health and I had hoped that I would be able to sing for a while longer – I hope nevertheless that the medication will eventually enable me to sing again. I have also had a very upset stomach for the past ten days. I have had to continue with driving my daughter and mother to the places they need to be and also had a few appointments of my own to keep, but when I have eventually got back home I have no energy for much housework or any gardening let alone the enthusiasm for reading and blogging. I have felt quite a lot better today and have managed to catch up with commenting on the blogs I follow but if I have said anything over the last couple of weeks that has been a little odd please blame it on the stomach bug (it wasn’t me!).
Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)
Male Orange-tip butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines) on bluebell. It’s a pity the butterfly chose to drink nectar from a bluebell with a bird poo on it!
On May Day Bank Holiday Monday, Rumburgh village had its annual fete and as usual I provided a couple of cakes for the church’s cake stall. Richard pulled a large amount of our rhubarb as well which was also sold on the stall. I spent most of the day before baking the two cakes I took to the fete. We went out in the afternoon to Captain’s Wood to see if the bluebells were flowering. I will put that visit in a separate post.
Honey Cake tray bake. It’s always good to provide tray bakes or individual small cakes for cake stalls. They sell for more money than a large cake does.
The tea tent at the Rumburgh fete
Last week, while Richard was away in Manchester helping his brother sort out their Mum’s house, Elinor and I went to Minsmere RSPB reserve to walk through the woods. This will also be the subject of another post.
While I was baking cakes for the fete I also made an Eve’s Pudding for us to eat at home. I didn’t manage to photograph this before some of it had been eaten. The other cake I made for the fete but didn’t photograph, was a Mincemeat Cake. A good way of using up the extra mincemeat bought at Christmas.
This is the sum total of our activities so far this month. Quite gloomy in places I’m afraid.
I was surprised to see two Red-legged Partridges (Alectoris rufa) in my garden one morning as I opened the kitchen blinds.
This one had obviously had a bad night.
Please ignore the weedy flowerbed – I have since tidied it up.
Shortly after I took this photo they both flew away.
The variagated Euonymus is looking bright with new leaves.
The Pieris ‘Forest Fire’ has tiny new pink leaves
The Clematis montana ‘Rubens’ I cut back a few weeks ago is showing me that it won’t be beaten.
The Rosemary is still flowering beautifully
The Ash trees (Fraxinus excelsior) are flowering.
The flowers are very small and a warm purple colour. Ash trees have separate male and female flowers, mainly on separate trees but there are a few trees that have both male and female flowers but on separate branches! The trees around us are all females and produce thousands of Ash ‘keys’, winged seeds that hang from the trees in bunches in the autumn. My mother has plenty of Ash trees near her house but all hers are males – so no ‘keys’.
A reflective Greylag!
A bumblebee on White Dead-nettle (Lamium album)
A very over-grown corner of our garden. This ditch doesn’t belong to us but is part of the common land between our garden and the road. I expect that no-one will take responsibility for looking after this but if there is a problem with it in the future we will no doubt be asked to deal with it!
The Amelanchier is blossoming.
The Viburnum bodnantense produces dark pink flowers in the spring and pale pink or white flowers during the winter
Wild Cherry blossom (Prunus avium)
Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris)
A soft pink Tulip
It looks so different depending on the angle from which I photograph it
The new leaves of Bristly Ox-tongue (Picris echioides). Another member of the Daisy family.
Crabapple ‘Harry Baker’ flower buds
I had an on-line conversation with a member of the WordPress team a week or so ago and asked about my missing posts. The person who dealt with my enquiry was extremely helpful but was unable to retrieve them. He would have been able to retrieve three old posts I had deleted on purpose but was unable to find the ones that had disappeared! Fortunately, a very dear friend who is an e-mail follower has been saving my posts and has sent all the missing ones to me. When I have the time I may post a page with them on for anyones information.
In between racing about in my car to Norwich and Mum’s house, the doctor’s surgery and the hospital, shopping trips to Harleston, Halesworth, Bungay and Diss, I have been able to take my camera with me as I walk round the garden, filling all the bird feeders. I haven’t had time for any gardening for about ten days and I miss it! The weather here has continued bright and dry with frosty, misty mornings and warmish days (as long as you are out of the chilly NE wind). Today has been much warmer with a change of wind direction but according to the forecast, this will not last. Rain and cold are set to return by the end of the weekend.
Hawthorn leaves. We have two types of Hawthorn in our garden hedges, Common Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) and Midland Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata). This is probably Midland Hawthorn or maybe a hybrid between the two.
A Daisy (Bellis perennis). I love its simplicity.
The Elder leaves (Sambucus nigra) are now almost fully out and have lost the pink tinge they had. They are matte mid-green leaves. Last year we had the best elder blossom I’d seen for many years.
Goat Willow or Sallow catkins (Salix caprea). Male and female catkins are on separate trees and appear before the leaves. Sallows are a food plant for many different types of moth. The catkins are known as ‘Pussy Willow’ when they first appear as they look and feel like silky cats paws.
I found a Heartsease or Wild Pansy (Viola tricolor) plant on the path round the big pond. Next to it there is also the first rosette of Spear Thistle leaves (Cirsium vulgare).
Silver Birch leaves (Betula pendula)
I love standing underneath our tree and looking up. Silver Birches eventually grow to be about 26 metres tall. I don’t think ours has quite got there yet.
This Bluetit (Parus caeruleus) sitting in the Birch tree looks a little strange. It has a black sunflower seed in its beak.
It spent some time taking the seedcase off…
…and eating the seed within.
The Greylags (Anser anser) have been amusing me a lot lately. The geese are much calmer than the ganders. The goose here is up close eating some food I put out for it. The gander is further away and hissing at me.
This one I found the other morning standing on top of the hedge.
The original goose on her nest on the island…
…was joined last weekend by another goose (nearest to us).
A third goose has made her nest on the edge of the pond. I surprised her and she surprised me when I walked round the pond yesterday. I am not sure how successful this nest will be as it is quite vulnerable to fox predation.
A Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Daffodils along the ditch at the front of the house
Daffodils at the top of the ditch between us and the old School House.
Our Rhubarb (Rheum x hybridum ‘Timperley Early’) looking majestic.
A very early flowering near-species rose has buds on it. (Rosa xanthina ‘Canary Bird’)
Richard pointed out this snail trail up the side of the house!
I saw this Muntjac deer doe very early the other morning. It was eating the crabapple tree! The leaf shapes on the window are meant to stop birds crashing into the glass but aren’t very successful. I usually have to pull the window-blind down to stop them!
Very blurred photo! You can see how stocky/thickset these deer are and also the white in their ears.
The does don’t have antlers but have a dark triangular patch on their foreheads.
I think I see her tongue sticking out as she chews a mouthful of leafy twig.
I had great trouble trying to focus on the deer. The camera wanted to focus on the window glass of the double-glazing or the daffodils behind the deer.
Richard on his new tractor-mower. The old one wasn’t working too well so we part-exchanged it for a newer, better model. It has a mulching facility which will be good to use in the summer.
I must share some good news I heard today. My daughter Alice has been told she has her PhD. She is now Doctor Alice! I am so proud of her.
Two very handsome Mallard drakes (Anas platyrhynchos).
Ground-ivy (Glechoma hederacea). Many of the newer leaves are purple and the plant has a slightly unpleasant minty scent.
As I have mentioned before, when we moved to this house there were no Primroses (Primula vulgaris) in the garden at all. We now have a few plants here and there on the banks of our ditches.
The Cowslips (Primula veris) are beginning to bloom. We have always had plenty of these!
A primula hybrid that arrived unbidden about three years ago. I rather like it.
The house next door to us is the former village school. I am not sure when it closed but a friend of ours from church used to attend it during the 1940’s. Where our house and garden is now, there was a meadow full of wild flowers and our friend walked across it every day to collect the milk for the school from the farm next door. These wild flowers we have in our garden are all that’s left of the hundreds that used to be here up to about 50 or 60 years ago. I hope that we can hang on to these few and perhaps, by not using chemicals, encourage them to spread.
Sweet Violet (Viola odorata)
This is our parcels and newspaper box at the end of our drive. We noticed during the winter that it was starting to rot and needed replacing. It appears that we weren’t the only ones to notice the state the box was in. I opened it the other day to find something had made a hole in the back of it ( you can see where the light is shining through just below my thumb as I lift the lid). The next day I found this straw and moss had been put in there. Richard saw a Great Tit (Parus major) flying away from the box so I suspect this is a Great Tit’s nest. I carefully peeped into it a day or so later and found the whole box stuffed full of moss and we can also see lots of straw sticking out from where the box sides are coming away from the base. We have tied up the box and put a ‘not in use’ sign on it and we now await the happy arrival of baby Great Tits.
I knew that Tits nested in holes and I also was aware that Willow Tits excavated their own holes but I hadn’t realised that Great Tits also excavated holes to nest in.
The top of the brick gate-post at the end of our drive is covered in moss and lichen but because we haven’t had much rain recently, it isn’t looking as good as usual. Birds have been collecting the moss for their nests too.
This is a close-up of one of the lichens.
The Marsh-marigold or King Cup (Caltha palustris) is flowering in the pond.
I love its shiny yellow petals.
I took this photo of the daffodils round the pond over a week ago and I am glad I did. On Tuesday and Wednesday of last week we had very warm weather (24 degrees C on Wednesday!) and the daffodils that had come out earliest began to wilt.
Earlier this year I posted pictures of these Hazel (Corylus avellana) bud galls. I went to look at them again last week and noticed tiny flies sitting on all of the galls. I wonder if these flies had hatched out of the galls.
New Hazel leaves
Water Mint (Mentha aquatica). The new shoots are growing round and in the big pond.
Horse-chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum). This photo was taken about a week ago.
This photo of our Horse-chestnut tree was taken on the same day. These leaves are higher and get more sunlight. I was pleased to see that the flower panicles (candles) were growing nicely.
I saw the frogs spawning but unfortunately didn’t have my camera with me. I took this photo of the spawn later in the day. This is the first time I have found frogspawn in our pond and was surprised at how late in the year it was. We have a windswept, exposed garden which may account for it.
There were lots of eggs and I was glad that the fish that live in the pond hadn’t come out of hibernation yet.
I took this picture a week later as the tadpoles were hatching out. The fish still hadn’t woken up!
Two days after this the tadpoles had dispersed but I had also seen the fish swimming in the pond and leaping to catch flies. They were probably feasting on tadpoles too.
I found a dead fish on the path round the pond again – I found one last year that had been caught by the Heron who had been disturbed by one of us. I don’t know what had caught this year’s fish as there was no stab mark on it. It is interesting to see the workings of the food-chain. We are part of it as we get bitten by the flies that the fish eat!
Spring is definitely progressing quite nicely. We have had some really glorious weather recently – blue, shining days and mild, moonlit nights. Today we had some very heavy showers – the first real rain for some time. In fact, the mud on the roads has been drying out and cars have been causing dust clouds as they travel along our lanes. Most of the recent signs of Spring and many of the things I have seen in the past few days I have not been able to photograph. Either they are unphotographable like birdsong, or my camera is unable to take a decent picture of them – birds in the garden (can’t zoom in far enough) and the moon – or I am driving somewhere and can’t stop.
More and more different types of birds are singing each day and I have noticed more pairs of birds in the garden instead of either solitary birds or flocks of birds. The house sparrows have started building their nests under the eaves of our house. They sound as if they are wearing hob-nailed boots as they busily sort out the old nesting sites under the roof tiles and they clatter about in the gutter chattering and arguing. R and I look forward (I don’t think!) to the mornings when we are awoken by the sound of a happy sparrow singing at dawn -( ‘cheep!’ (two, three) ‘cheep!’ (two, three) ‘cheep!’ (two, three) ‘cheep!…..). When R and I went out for our walk last Thursday evening we listened to many birds singing including a yellowhammer. These birds are getting quite scarce now and this makes me sad. The woodpeckers are starting to drum. I heard a chiff-chaff warbler yesterday – our first summer visitor – and above my head a skylark was singing.
On Sunday evening at dusk I looked out of the kitchen window to see a large hare run along the road to the end of our drive and stop there for a minute. It then raced across our grass at the front of the house then out of sight in the direction of the big pond. On the way to Mum’s house on Sunday morning I had to slow down as a very small terrier dog was running up the lane keeping pace with a tractor ploughing the field next to the road. The little dog belonged to the ploughman who waved an apology to me as I drove very carefully and slowly past. This evening, on my way to Mum’s house again, the sky looked quite dramatic -a thick black cloud-covering which had rents in it with the pale blue evening sky showing through like silk beneath the slashes in Elizabethan clothes.
I will end this post with, first of all, some photos of my Phalaenopsis orchid which I won in a church coffee morning raffle on 5th October last year and which has been in continuous flower since then. (Apologies to friends on Facebook who have seen this already today). I will then add some photos of today’s sunset.
Moments from a Norfolk Country Cottage. The furred & feathered & the worn and weathered. A Druid Herbalist with a Passion for Cats, Vintage, Dogs, Interiors, Nature, Hens, Organic Veggie Food, Plants & Trees & a Kinship with The Earth.