June Acceleration Part 3: The Blue and The Purple

If June so far has been a bright swathe of Yellow and Green punctuated with White fluffy bits then plants that can manage Blue make themselves stand out

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in this case the Ceanothus behind the Lake

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Also happily in that location is a burst of Green Alkanet

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Happily that is for us – it has also put down roots below one of the polytunnels and never ceases to arise and invade the vegetable beds.

Here it can roam as much as it likes

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As we remarked the other day, the flavours in the meadow change each year. Right now there seems to be more luscious patches of Clover than in the past

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Not sure how we feel about this as we are trying to reduce nitrogen there.

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Sure it will work out ok once the Yellow Rattle has finished its root sucking – that too is more widespread than ever this year.

The Comfrey is starting to flower, to the delight of this bee

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We have pea flowers in a range of whites, blues and purples. Wonder if this will be reflected in the colour of the peas.

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The Orange Tips are enjoying the Aubretia

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There is always a bit of sadness looking at a Lilac in full bloom (How many plants have a name which is also a colour?)

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It is not complete without dozens of Peacocks, Tortoiseshells and Red Admirals.

The Wisteria on the front of the house died last year (it has been replaced but it will take time to cover the same area) The Clematis has expanded to take advantage of the extra space

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This Iris moves us back from Purple to Blue

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To end with with the Rhododendron

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Like the Green Alkanet, very nice in its place

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June Acceleration Part 2: The White

We are looking for the pause button on June, or at least the slo-mo setting that makes it last for, oh ever…

There is a hedgeline on land near us which has grown into a row of mature trees and right now the Rowan and Hawthorn have have turned it into a wall of White.

Looking at one of our Hawthorns

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we can see how the blossoms cover the branches, completely covering the leaves

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our bees are happy.

The high light of June casts sharp shadows

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and emphasises the secret shady places

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Our orchard mini-meadow, where this tulip flowers

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is so vibrant that some of last year’s seed have migrated to a hard gravel path next to a shed. This Ox-eye daisy is currently about five feet tall and still going up

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Promise of peas

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More white blossom

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Claire is a Speckled (with White) Sussex and is proving an excellent mother (again)

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and our Silver Fox rabbits really show off their Silver in the June sun

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June Acceleration Part 1: The Yellow and The Gold

In April we freeze-dried, we spent May under a cold shower, and then came June

Spring at last

A visit from young helpers

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and all living things accelerated and sped off. We have been running non-stop trying to catch up with them – not much time for writing here.

So a quick wizz through some June pictures. Part 1: Yellow and Gold.

Basically everything has been golden

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but the pièce de résistance is the Meadow

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Each year it cycles through dominant species in different ways. Right now the Meadow Buttercup holds sway

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Beneath the buttercups the Yellow Rattle has spread further than ever, busy sucking at the grass roots and just starting to flower.

The Laburnum commands the orchard

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and beneath, the tulips

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are being slowly swallowed up

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The golden beech is spreading its branches to catch all available light

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Irises on land

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and water

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where Jessie has to cool off

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She has seen the Yellow Poppies everywhere

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and has decided to have her own clump by her hovel

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The Time of Small Things

After the driest April in living memory we are nearing the end of the wettest May in living memory

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Across the Plant Kingdom things have leapt into life

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and the Animal Kingdom is full of small things growing up.

Most creatures are far too small to attract much attention, and even most small birds are too well hidden as they are fed by non stop parents.

Sparrows don’t care

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they even use the Sparrow Terrace so everyone knows where they are

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Small Rabbit Jenny has been brought in to improve our breeding stock of Silver Foxes

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She is biding her time

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The hen chicks that were small things are now living in the greenhouse

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but would like to be on the move

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Their smallness status has been usurped

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Claire hatched some eggs

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and also took on some incubator hatchees to include in her training programme

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Some eggs are still waiting

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Rewilding the Tulips

When Monty Don, on last week’s Gardeners’ World, said he had planted tulips in his orchard for the first time we knew he had been spying on us

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because that is what we had done

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The bulbs were planted rather late

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but seemed to have struggled to the surface
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Some of the pictures that follow might just look like Tulips in a pot, or a municipal bed, but trust us….

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…they look much better among the long grass in the orchard

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They are – in the orchard

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Consider the Humble Dandelion

We are slowly trying to maintain and expand a new flower border for perennials and herbaceous plants interspaced with some annuals. This month we noticed a flower we had not invited

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We were about to attack when we heard a voice:

“Hello, you might call me a weed but I’m a friend and have come to help you. I’m the only one who wants and can grow here because:

  • Either the soil is too compact and I want to loosen it for you with my roots.
  • Or there is too little calcium in the soil – don’t worry, I will replenish that for you with the dying of my leaves.
  • Or the soil is too acidic, but I will also improve that for you if you give me the chance.”

So had a think… and thought that if we had grown these flowers from seed and cossetted the plants to produce blooms like this

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we would be very pleased. The voice reinforced this view with a slightly threatening:

“I’m here because your soil needs my help so best you let me grow without disturbing me! When everything is fixed, I will disappear again, I promise!
Are you trying to remove me prematurely with my root? However meticulous you are, I will return twice as strong! Just until your soil is improved.”

We had noticed that the blooms had many visitors

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sometimes very small

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The voice explained:

“My flowers are the first food for insects after hibernation and unlike most other plants, I have pollen and nectar, not merely one or the other! And I am generous with them!”

We did know of the culinary possibilities

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The voice elucidated:

“My flowers are even delicious for you people by the way, did you know? I used to be called ′′honey (or gold) of the poor′′ because my flowers are so sweet in jam, sauce or salad!”

So we decided to just enjoy

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Creatures of May

A quick tour of some of the other animals who have been sharing our patch in the last couple of weeks…

This pair of Canada Geese have taken to cruising by in the mornings

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we hear them before we see them and all their movements take place in perfect synchronisation. One morning they even landed and were caught in the distance on a phone camera

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We had lots of frogspawn down at the lake. The tadpoles developed and vanished. One of them decided to take up residence in a polytunnel water tank

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We must have scores of nests on site but get to know the location of very few, outside the boxes. The sparrows use under the eaves but this one has actually deigned to use the purpose built Sparrow terrace

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We listen out for the songs of returning migrant warblers but they are not easy to capture on camera. So far the Blackcap has evaded attempts but we did catch a fleeting shot of the Chiffchaff

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Some birds are less shy

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We have a camera on one of the feeders letting us catch close ups…

…of the seldom seen in the case of the Reed Bunting…

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…the otherwise shy Jay…

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…and the ubiquitous Wood Pigeon which seems to kind of exist under the radar – to big to be noticed?

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Another camera brought us excitement

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the first evidence of hedgehog activity for well over a year. We had quite a few on site before the drought of 2019.

And also on camera an ordinary bird doing an ordinary activity but somehow the video has an intimacy which illustrates the myriad animal moments which take place each day at Gribin Isaf

The April Showers of May

As everyone knows, we have just had an unusual April

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Here we had eighteen nights with frost and 18.4 mm of rain, 13.4 of which fell in three days

Last year’s April

2020

we had one night of frost and 31.6 mm of rain.

Now that May is here we are getting all the April showers that didn’t happen

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So at last things feel a little more normal and growth is accelerating.

Now that the ducks have moved out of the orchard we are trying to encourage a native and introduced meadow mix. Earlier this year we planted a load of bulbs that should have gone in during the Autumn. These tulips are making up for lost time

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The Jack-by-the-hedge has been spreading

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and the Orange Tips are seeking it out

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Lady’s-smock is starting to pop up all over the place

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The small tunnel has been full for a while

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We are trying to be more organised with our sowing this year

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and today we started the seventh succession batch of lettuce. This lot is still in the packed greenhouse

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while this lot are being harvested

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The first lot of peas are in the tunnel too

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The big tunnel is starting to get sorted

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First tomatoes are in position. We are growing eight varieties this year

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After an abysmal crop last year, due to lack of sun, we are hoping for better things.

Cherries are already forming in that tunnel

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Here are some more splashes of May colour

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