W for Waves, winds and Winter wrens

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W is for Wind, Waves and Winter. Wind is the main challenge for my garden along with salty air and occasional sea water run off! Even the most hardy plants can shrivel and hunker down under such conditions (For example I finally gave up on a spiky Pyracanthus!). The only consolation is that it is mostly in the Winter that the worst of the winds reign, and you can sometimes get away with the annuals and perennials during the Summer. Last year I was lucky as there were few real Autumn storms and some of the flowers just kept going! However a sudden storm or windy week in the Summer can bring havoc. The worst casualties are G’s big pots of bamboo, which we keep round the hot tub. They just turn into a browned off stalks by December. Luckily once Summer comes they do grow new shoots again, and I just cut off all the dead ones. I’m not sure what is the best plan, perhaps to wrap fleece round them come the Autumn.

Making the best of it, some of the grasses look wonderful with the wind rushing through them, reflecting the wild beauty of the grassland in the nature reserve.

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Plenty of Wildlife beginning with W too. I did my RSPB Garden birdwatch recently and was glad to be able to include a Wren, which was happily hopping about, probably searching for spiders in the hedge, and a beautiful pied Wagtail which has become a regular visitor.

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What they lack in size, wrens make up for with their loud song! Someone certainly thought it was Spring this morning at dawn, there was some fantastic singing going on in the dawn chorus!

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Wrens apparently often huddle together in nest boxes – with a record 61 once found in a single nest box! I’ve only ever seen one a time, but pretty regularly. Apparently the males make several potential nests and the female gets to choose which one she wants. Will have to keep an eye out for signs of nest making. I have some brass wren ornaments on the top of the trellis panel, which are tiny, but still bigger than the real ones!

Also have had cute little Wood mice in the compost bin (looking rather sleepy and startled when I open the lid).

Last but not least, Weeds. Well not too many hopefully in my garden, though it is rather difficult sometimes to tell if anything sprouting in my new bed is a) seeds I enthusiastically planted in Autumn, b) weeds inherited with my Eastbourne clay top soil c) seeds scattered by the frenzy of birds at the bird table and under it. I guess that’s a good excuse to just wait and see what turns up!

Anyway let’s hope we will be waving goodbye to Winter very soon!

Autumn ends, winter comes,
And everybody’s gone.
Days grow short, and pull apart,
And now the nights are long.
We winter wrens have made amends,
With the silence and the cold.
So, just leave us to our own device.
We winter wrens are fine.

So, just leave us to our own device
We winter wrens are fine
‘Cause there’s no mistake of the call we make
When there’s no one else around

‘Cause there’s no mistake of the call we make
When there’s no one else around

Lyrics, Winter Wrens by Dolorean

 

U for Underplanting and umbellifers

 

Um, well can U think of any plants beginning with U? I can’t find any in my garden!

This year however I will need to think about my Underplanting, in the new raised bed by the hedge and under the new crab apple tree. Suggestions for a rather shady but fertile spot welcome, especially something tall that can hide the rather unsightly netting covering the hedge.

Some more Umbellifers perhaps, although these prefer the sun! Surely the most lovely of these plants (rather popular with Chelsea garden designers), is the ubiquitous cow parsley. Probably not a good one for my little patch, but up on the downs, here between Lullington Heath and the Cuckmere valley, it is just glorious, clouds of soaring white flowers all along the South Downs way.

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Other umbellifers include the wonderful fennel, sweet cicily and angelica

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Up the Umbellifers!

A for another beginning

 

Well I’ve not done a lot of garden blogging this year, but I have been busy in the garden! So where to start? Well I’m thinking to start at the beginning and see where I get to!

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A is for Aeonium! Due to being ill at the end of last year, I lost the energy for the garden and failed to notice that my much loved Aeoninum hadn’t been brought under cover. As a result it was suffering so much every leaf had fallen off, probably due to the wet as we rarely get a frost. I covered it up far too late and hoped for the best.

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Plants are amazingly resilient. All the missing leaf rosettes returned and a hasty cutting also took magnificently soon with growth soon almost as big as the original, apparently loving being in a small hanging bucket!

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I’ll be taking better care of them this Winter and have already moved some under cover where they’ll only get rained on if it’s blowing at a Northern 45% angle!

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The most amazing ones I’ve seen were in Cornwall flowering on the edge of cliffs, but I think the weather must be tropical there!

A is also for Agapanthus which didn’t do all that well again this year, though I noticed the same in a lot of gardens we visited. Last year there were two blue flowers, this year only one, but the white one flowered. I’m debating taking them out of the raised bed and attempting in a pot as I heard they may prefer their roots being restricted a bit. And there is never enough room in that raised bed for all the sun-loving plants!

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An old favourite Alchemilla Mollis or Ladies Mantle, always a stalwart in the shady spots, those big leaves covered in beads of water after rain! These beads were considered by Alchemists to be the purest form of water and used it in their attempts to turn base metal into gold (hence Alchemilla!)

“The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words.”
William H. Gass, A Temple of Texts

 

The sparrowhawk

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Baby blue sky, peaceful and still

Round the bird feeder, squabbling starlings and sparrow circles

until

Brutal burst of feathers and flight

All birds vanished but one

 

Soundless she sits

Bold, fearless, patient

Golden glint in hungry eyes

Turns left to right, stares at me

Rippling chest

Vivid talons clench branches

Sharp ears tilt and turn,

Alert to every whisper, every breeze

 

Deep in the hedge

Tiny feathers.

Still. So so still.

 

Piercing eyes watching, waiting

The corvids spot her

Indignant thugs swoop

She shrugs them off

In her own time, she leaves

Sweeping glorious wings

 

Tiny trembling feathers

emerge

fly another day

 

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Inspirations – Hever Castle, Kent

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Today we took a trip out to Hever Castle and gardens in Kent. To get there we drive out through some amazingly beautiful countryside of the high Weald and Ashdown Forest. The gorse blazing yellow and little puffs of cloud in blue skies.

Hever Castle was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII. It was originally built in 1270. There are some fine gardens and grounds at Hever covering 125 acres, which should have interest at any time of year.

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Today the daffodils unsurprisingly were past their best, but there were still a good show of tulips.

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I’m not all that fond of the range of garish primulas you can buy although I do like to see them growing wild in the hedgerows and I think it’s going to be a good year for them!

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And the first bluebells I’ve seen! Glorious

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I loved this blue corner too, very vivid colours and wonderful contrasts. I must get some euphorbias in my garden – that lime green is so fresh and vivid.

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Also loved the contrasts of this foliage – who says you need flowers when the leaves are so lovely

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And loved this bright little flower too, though not sure what it is

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All in all a very nice day out, and no doubt we will be back in the Summer when it’s warm enough to picnic outside and the garden is at its height! Until next time..

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