16 January 2023
The last leaf in the garden against the backdrop of winter heather. It is hard to imagine how this has remained on the tree throughout all the gales but the colour is a bright spot on a dull day.
The heather in all of its glory.
I still have to look carefully each day to find colour in the garden. The staghorn Sumac had seemed rather dull but is a nice contrast to my neighbour’s cows.
At last, a lengthy dry spell and I can begin tidying up the garden in some of the dryer areas. I don’t want to plant anything that will hide my lovely dry stone wall so will try some small Acers now that this corner has shelter. My first attempts looked rather pathetic and my muscles and joints objected to the exercise, but at least it is a start.
Despite the change in the weather the camellias are still holding back although all of the bushes are covered in buds. I think that it is still too cold for a dramatic display.
My challenges trying to protect the vegetables last throughout the year. In Scotland the deer loved Brussels Sprouts but I would have thought they would be safe here. Despite my optimism something has been eating them and I have assumed that it was rabbits. The other evening I was alerted by the sound of vigorous crunching during our nightly pre-bedtime walk. The ‘un rabbit like’ paws tell it all. In common with the deer, Millie has scoffed the whole plant stalk and all. As you can see from the next photograph she has no sense of shame. To round off her supper she subsequently jumped into the raised bed beside the house to steal a few leek leaves. As she is now ten years old, I don’t think that she will change her ways although I have to admit that her penchant for fruit and vegetables keeps her very fit and agile.
The hellebores are gradually producing blossoms . Most are tucked away against the old drystone walls so I have to seek them out but it is worth the effort.
The beauty of this double spotted pink is not adversely affected by the protective chicken wire but I would prefer if I did not have to use it.
I appear to have at least half a dozen permanent goldfinches who live in the garden all year round. Last year I had a large flock of visiting goldfinches. At least one travelled from Cornwall so I expect that they all did. This year I stopped counting at forty. This is an unusually placid picture of five of them as they are usually squabbling and pushing each other about particularly when food is involved. Probably just like any extended family.
This area on the drive produces clusters of ink caps on a regular basis but I was amazed to see these in the middle of the frost and snow. They come and go so quickly that I miss them I don’t look for them every day.
I often think that blue tits should be in the section of ‘exotic birds from an exotic land’. Their colours are so delicate and they are much smaller than their great tit cousins. They are often seen clearing up the bird feeders at the end of the day and are less and less bothered by my presence.
This willow branch is a puzzle. It is a normal shape until the last foot or so and then flattens out with dozens of buds. It looks more like a flipper than a branch and it will be interesting to see how it develops.
I have yet to identify this mushroom that has taken over the fruit garden since I spread some old bark mulch. It starts as a white, conventionally shaped mushroom like the one to the left of the photograph. Then it starts to metamorphose to the tan and white specimen in the middle. As it ages is fully tan coloured. I hope identification will follow soon although my experience is that these tan coloured mushrooms are even more difficult than the others.
I have many robins in the garden and I am unable to tell them apart. However, this one is always waiting for me in the morning by the gate close to one of the feeders. He seems to like the perch and I think that it looks as if it was made for him. He seems fearless and friendly the perfect combination although I don’t try to interact with him for his own safety.