31 January 2021
The dull wet days continue and the garden is still waterlogged and almost unworkable. Regardless of the weather, the dogs still need exercise and most days we pay a visit to the small cove below the house. Seaweed has always been an important nutrient for the garden and each winter the storms throw up large amounts which build up into banks on the shoreline and the narrow track that skirts the cove. It is easy to take away some bags for the garden. I also remove any plastic that comes in with the tide, so it is a mutually beneficial task. I am pleased that the amount of plastic has reduced over the last year or so and hope that this means that there is less dumping at sea.
For many years I have always thought of seaweed as consisting of dark, dull colours rather like the garden at the moment and that exotic colours existed only in warmer climates. As it is too wet to work in the garden my daily walks with the dogs have allowed me to amble along the tiny shoreline at low tide and to pay proper attention to the seaweed washed up with the latest tide. The varieties and colours are stunning. It is like having a beautiful seashore garden at a time when my own is so damp and dull.
Pink, green and orange seem to be the predominant colours although there are also many shades of cream.
I have no idea how many of these plants are edible, perhaps all. Sadly, I find seaweed very salty and only occasionally use some on my food.
The cove is covered in grey stones that provide the perfect backdrop for these plants. The recent storms have brought in some very large specimens including the roots and even these can be very colourful.
I think that this orange and translucent frond is from the same plant as the root above.
I found this odd creature (or possibly creatures) on the trunk of a complete seaweed plant that had been washed ashore. It is as delicate as tissue paper and as light as a feather. As with the other plants I have not been able to identify it on the internet and I suspect that a book on seaweed will be my next purchase.
Even the seashells are dramatic although they are less easy to see. The collection in the following photograph was collected in the past from the beaches around Roaringwater Bay. In my cove yellow and orange shells predominate.
Deep pink is also the predominant colour in the garden at the moment as the winter heathers and camellias are showing spectacular colours.
This is obviously a piece from a much larger plant. I suspect that even the seaweeds have been bashed about by the recent storms as this was the only piece on the seashore.
You can see how easily this seaweed would move with the waves and the views underwater must be even more spectacular.
11 February 2021
The cold weather has now been supplemented by storm force winds and a mixture of rain and sleet which is blowing across the valley in horizontal sheets. The storms have been raging for days although the temperature has risen to a heady 4 degrees today. Even the dogs don’t want to go outside. It is hard to imagine ever gardening again, although my new trees for the field arrive next week. Lockdown means that today I am restricted to the house except for the brief forays into the gale to exercise the dogs. On one of these I was amazed to see the first signs of spring in this lone violet daring to make an appearance on the bank behind the house.
As usual parts of my garden look like a prison camp as I try to protect some of the younger plants like the camellia above.
The weather and lockdown mean that I have ample time to brood on the regular intruders that are decimating the garden. They have moved from the vegetable garden to the hellebores and have also been chewing the bark of any unprotected shrubs and trees. This means that all of my new plants will have to have protection for the first few years. As most of the garden is surrounded by a fence of chicken wire, I have to grit my teeth at the need for double protection and double work when it is such cold work at the moment.
First thing in the morning and at nine o’clock at night I let the dogs out for their first and last trip to the garden. One could easily imagine that they are the Hound of the Baskervilles or banshees on their daily hunts rather than three collies, as they shriek their way around the garden at high speed. It is obvious that they are catching the scent of rabbits or hares and they usually arrive back at the house exhausted and empty handed but very pleased with themselves. Millie in her youth occasionally came back with a large dead rabbit in her mouth and I had mixed feelings about that. I have no need to worry these days as she is always empty mouthed. I suspect the shrieking is a giveaway and gives the rabbits plenty of time to slip into the next garden until the coast is clear. If past history is anything to go on the rabbits will disappear again within a few years as happened eight years ago. Sadly, this is likely to be due to myxomatosis. While I would prefer if they dined elsewhere, I don’t wish the creatures any harm and myxomatosis is a dreadful, cruel disease.
Despite the weather I can still find some colour to bring into the house on these dull days. This feels particularly important during the lockdown even if I have to brave the gales to find something. Gardening is the perfect antidote to lockdown ‘blues ’. With luck the weather will change next week so that I can plant my new trees in relative comfort.