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Friday, 27 November 2015

November blues, and still those nasturtiums keep on going

My least favourite month of the year is November. It's dark early and usually grey, drizzly and gloomy enough to give me the blues, but I usually think of it and December as a welcome break from working hard in the garden. I tend to feel much happier once January comes around and I know the days are starting to get longer, the dreaded C word has passed and there is lots to look forward to in the early spring garden. I usually feel rejuvenated by then.

I don't know if any of my nature blogging friends are feeling the blues but I've noticed a marked absence of blog posts!

However, there have been a number of days with blue sky (blues - geddit?!) so I have welcomed these opportunities to get outside with my camera. As I'm still suffering the post chemo blues, at least this is one thing which gives me some pleasure. If it wasn't for that (and having to look after animals), I'd probably barely get out of bed.

Lake looking blue, shame about the leaves and stuff floating on the surface!

Here you can see how low the lake level is. The autumn rains have been late coming this year, and the stream has only just started to flow, so in the last few days since taking these photos, the level has gone up by about 18". If we were to get a number of days with very heavy rainfall, then the trickling stream would become more of a raging torrent and the lake could fill in a couple of days, or even in one day as has happened before during the summer! I usually go out and play at diverting the stream channels, just like we used to do on the beach as kids. Little things, eh? :-)

This is all lake bed in the foreground!

Zooming in a bit towards the ducks.

The forecasted two frosts came but the temps weren't lower than 2c, so the nasturtiums and other flowers are still clinging on to life! When the sun shines there are still some honey bees and hoverflies about nectaring. And it's great to see a few butterflies, although it's only Red Admirals and Speckled Woods about now.

Nasturtiums creeping over the lawn and late honey bees still finding nectar.

I was pleased to see some Marmalade Hoverflies (Episyrphus balteatus) still about this week.

Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) seen on 13th November.

Speckled Wood again on an Abelia.

The last few leaves of Smokebush 'Grace', and a few Bidens flowers.

A few days apart - the rose is Zephirine Drouhin although the perfume
is not very apparent now like it was in the spring.

Calendula aka Pot Marigold.

The following photos are in the veg patch which is now a complete jungle. Well it already was, but add to that a smothering carpet of chickweed which grows happily all through winter and is the bane of any gardener's life, due to its swamping nature and tenacious roots which have to be dug out and cannot be pulled.

These photos were taken before the two days of frost, but the flowers are still going strong, albeit rather soggy now after a week of on and off rain and drizzle.

Note the large brassica in the foreground,
that is SELF SEEDED PSB!!! There are five of them although 
I hardly need any more. Anyone else ever had a self seeded one?


Borage again with a honey bee.

Just a riot of colour.

And more - this is the plot where we grew potatoes!

Below is a mystery plant - yet another that came from a mixed seed packet 'for butterflies'. It's now on about its 5th cycle of self seeded growth this season. The flower stems are about 12" tall and if anyone recognises it, please tell me.

Do you know what this is?

Round the front by the front door is another mini riot of colour - we planted a couple of ivy leaf Geraniums here, but the Black Eyed Susan still self seeds and twines itself around whatever it can grab hold of. I only grew B-E Susan once here! But I spy Borage in the background, and that gets everywhere and only needs to be sown in a garden once ever. Ditto Feverfew, and Bronze Fennel - the list is endless!

I have brought inside all the Geraniums that are in pots now.

Another thing that can't be beaten at this time of year are certain photogenic seedheads and fading flowers. Hydrangeas carry on being wonderful photography subjects all through the winter as their flowers skeletonise. I know I will curse not having dead headed the garlic chives as those seeds mean new plants which will need weeding out, but for now, close up, they are beautiful.

Garlic Chives.

Mophead Hydrangea.

Mophead Hydrangea showing skeletonised petals.

I have a ton more photos to share of trees and leaves, so will try to get them posted soon. Plus autumn moths, and cats. My problem is the typing with this neuropathy as it takes so long - I can't add too much text using my kindle as it doesn't allow me to make captions, for example, so I need to do the vast majority on my desktop. 

There are definitely weird errors going on with Blogger as the html code is screwed up, the white margins outside my photos are odd shapes, and I've lost 4 followers overnight! Now that can't possibly be a coincidence. I also know from experience that once you follow a blog via google friend connect you cannot unfollow and get your avatar taken off their list.

Anyone else noticed any problems?

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Garden photos from 1st November and new hens

When we arrived home after our trip to England, I was shocked to see that nearly all the leaves from my colourful shrubs and trees had dropped in just one week! Now it was very windy at times in England and leaves were dropping like crazy, but I'm not aware of it having been particularly windy here (I looked at the weather forecast for home several times). So when I discovered a number of photos on my camera that I'd taken just before leaving I was rather pleased!

Two different Smokebushes looking spectacular.

Looking towards the veg patch.

Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy'
with a few leaves left.

Lime tree on the right and ornamental cherries by the pond.

The same trees' leaves closer up.

The pond level is down about 3.5 feet.

The ducks keeping their distance.

There were still a few butterflies about when the sun came out.
Comma (Polygonia c-album).

Comma butterfly (Polygonia c-album).

Amazingly this is completely new growth on a Hollyhock
which is still flowering now, and a Firebug (Pyrrhocoris apterus)
which I hadn't noticed at the time.

Borage self seeded and running riot all over the garden!

Whilst the trees are looking very different now, the flowers still look exactly the same and it always seems strange to see some already completely bare trees along with lots of brightly coloured flowers when we have mild autumns. I have loads of yellow and orange calendula and nasturtiums, pink and white cosmos, blue borage, mauve verbena bonariensis and bluey-mauve phacelia which is just starting to flower again from yet another wave of self seeded plants. It's mostly annuals that are still flowering and they will be hit by frost which is coming with colder weather this weekend. It'll make the enormous clear up of the veg patch easier as that's going to take some work with all that has self seeded in there - but it's been pretty and I've enjoyed this impromptu display of colour which has lasted at least six months and which has very much looked after itself. And given that there'll be snowdrops flowering in January or early February, having only a brief period without flowers helps to make winter seem much shorter!

Now for those new hen photos. The reason I bought more hens is because one of the only two girls still laying died some time back, so off we set for Dol market one Saturday morning for more. As the remaining layer (now called Gaby-Carly as I couldn't tell the difference between the two so didn't know which one had died), was getting to the end of her laying days, I thought I'd get three hens this time, as my neighbour usually buys a dozen a week so three laying should be about right. I had wanted another Light Sussex like Snowy, but the last two times I've been to the market, they didn't have any. So I chose three of varying colours so I could tell the difference between them! There's still a predominance of orange though. This time regarding naming them I only named one after a Facebook friend (my friend Dave) so went back to my old method of naming them according to their colours - not very imaginative but about the best my brain can manage these days!

Blondie, very young with hardly any comb developed yet.

Blondie again - I've never seen a hen this colour before.

Bottoms up.

The three newbies on the right - furthest is Blondie,
middle is Davey and closest is Goldie.

Poor Andrea the oldest hen looking awful during a full moult!
I'm glad to say she looks a lot better now.

Randy with the two oldies.

Randy with the three newbies.

The magnificent beast.

Blondie again trying to escape! Her comb is growing fast
and she is laying baby eggs now.

P.S. There are some odd things happening with the html which I can't amend as they keep coming back; also the white boxes around the photos aren't as they should be.....

Thursday, 12 November 2015

I haven't taken a single photo in about 10 days

The reason I've been quiet is because we have just spent a week in England as my mother in law sadly passed away, so we went over for her funeral. It was a lovely affair and fitting tribute to her, and as is always the way at funerals, a chance for K to catch up with cousins he hadn't seen in decades and old family friends. My poor hubby has lost both his parents this year so you can imagine what an absolute crap year it has been for him, with all the worry about my health too. We are so looking forward to saying goodbye to 2015!

I managed OK with the travelling as we had a cabin on the ferry both ways, and coped with hours spent sitting on my donut cushions. I think other people's sofas are more comfortable (with the donuts) than mine and I've now realised that ours is really quite low which is why I always struggle getting up off it and feel like a doddery old biddy, yet I seemed a lot more agile when I was in England (or maybe it's something in the air? Not the water as I took my own bottled cos I hate chlorinated tap water. Or perhaps it's all that delicious junk food I ate!).

Of course we did some food and clothes shopping as there is a huge Tesco and M&S only four miles from my brother in law's house, and during the time there ate all our favourite foods. Oh the joy of having take away curry delivered to the door! I've forgotten what that is like. And custard tarts, mmmmmm! We bought loads of yummy things home and I've put on even more weight.

I couldn't go to England without seeing my mum so we squeezed in a couple of nights with her as I had not seen her for two years, and saw my brother too.  

Though when we got home Monday morning I completely crashed and spent the entire day in bed with zero energy, which is probably not surprising. But it was so great to have a change of scene, and see some family, both of ours. And I didn't take a single photo!! Sometimes you need a break from that too. Rain and wind didn't help in that respect but I did enjoy seeing what bits of the countryside we did see, although it seemed that a lot of our travelling was done whilst it was dark.

My lovely neighbour looked after the menagerie whilst we were away as there wasn't time to organise housesitters and interestingly the cats didn't ignore us at all when we got home, maybe they just don't like having housesitters here so enjoyed their freedom!

Since I got home I've had two hospital appointments so haven't got back into the swing of things yet. So blogging will be resumed shortly - I do have some photos waiting to be posted as I haven't introduced you to my new hens yet. :-)

Hope you are all well and apologies for not looking in on your blogs as I have not spent much time on the internet. I'll be dropping by shortly to see if you have been behaving yourselves! And thanks to the friend who let me know that the mystery tree in my last post is indeed Red Oak, Quercus rubra. xx 

Just some leaves from October.