Category Archives: nature

Blanket Weed

We went for a ride out yesterday afternoon and I thought we’d have a look at  Budby Flash. All was not well.

The smell should have alerted me, a very ripe and festering cabbagey sort of smell. However, it didn’t, and as I scanned the pond, looking at a few apathetic mallard, it was Julia’s observation from the other side of the bridge that alerted me to the full horror of the situation –  “I don’t think the Kingfisher will be diving into this lot!”

I had a look at the other side of the Flash, and was amazed at what I saw – acres of blanket weed. Thick weed, too, not just a light covering but swathes of weed several inches thick.

In the distance a Moorhen was actually walking on the weed instead of swimming.

It’s a hazard to fish,  though the few we saw seemed healthy enough, and I’m not sure what, if anything anyone will do about it. So there you are – a useless report, which proves that facts, though factual, are not necessarily interesting.

I could use that as a subtitle.

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Blanket Weed

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Blanket Weed

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Vile Vista of Blanket Weed

Geese coming in to land - Budby Flash

Geese coming in to land – Budby Flash

Open Gardens

Julia visited some local Open Gardens on Saturday. If you are interested in others there is a website here which details all the national ones.

One was clearly the result of spending thousands on hard landscaping and plants straight from the garden centre. I don’t know why you would do that on our street as the house prices don’t justify the cost of expensive garden work, and on our side of the street (as this one was) the gardens slope away from the house and face North.

If I’d been a gardener when I moved to Nottingham I wouldn’t have bought this house. Nor would I have slabbed the front garden to save work. However, plants still manage to grow in the front garden, as you can see from the poppies.

The plants were all planted in buckets because the soil, it seems, is so poor. That is strange because our soil, just a few hundred yards away is quite good. It wasn’t bad when we moved in and with compost and hoed weeds, falling leaves and leafmold it has improved over the years.  It could be a lot better, but we are best described as sporadic gardeners. Having worked as a self-employed jobbing gardener for 10 years I have to confess to neglecting my own garden dreadfully.

The plots were built up using sand when they built the houses eighty years ago, and the underlying geology is sandstone, so the soil tend to be a bit light. However, it is well drained and easy to work, and does respond well to feeding. There were allotments here before they built houses so it was hardly a barren desert.

I did, however, bring back a lot of compostable debris from my work as a gardener, so it all worked out well in the end.

That, I think is where many gardeners go wrong. Spend money on hard landscaping and plants and you will get a garden you can show off. Spend time on the soil and you will get a garden where you can grow things.

Next year I suspect this gardener will have to buy more plants from the Garden Centre to fill her garden again. One thing she won’t have to do is mow the lawn (or compost the cuttings) because the “lawn” is astroturf.

We will, once again, be cutting things back in a desperate attempt to keep ours looking vaguely like a garden. We will also return to planting calabrese and kale in the flower beds. It seems to do well and the pigeons don’t spot it like they do when you plant it in a vegetable bed.

In contrast to the posh garden there was another, where kids were playing. The owner kept apologising for this but Julia told them that was what gardens are for.

They were just doing it to help raise funds for local charities and show what an ordinary garden looks like.

It takes all sorts, and they are both valid uses of a garden, depending on your ambitions and lifestyle.

We had Hummingbird Hawk Moths in the garden a few years ago. We also had a nesting Blackcap. This year we had Painted Ladies.  You don’t get that with a tidy garden.

Red Valerian, like poppies, grows vigorously from cracks in the paving. It is a great food plant for moths and butterflies, though it’s a bit of a weed and not seen in the better sort of garden.

Spring is Coming

You don’t have to take my word for it – look at the birds.

The Black-headed Gulls are regaining their black heads.

The idiots are also out in force. This prime example spotted the perfect spot to stand and ruin my shot. Then he moved a few feet away before coming back for another go.

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Idiotus Domesticus

Robins were singing in the dogwood hedges (Cynical note to self – Robins are always good for attracting likes).

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Robin and dogwood

And the ducks are looking in fine fettle for breeding.

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Finely fettled ducks

And finally – it’s clear what is on this pigeon’s mind, even if the object of his desire isn’t interested.

 

The Post I Meant to Write…

Just before I opened my email from the Royal Agricultural Society, this is the post I meant to write. The last post was merely a Jacobin rant, this one is about nature. It’s better for me than politics.

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A model of me in the garden

There’s not much to say as it’s late and the pictures can do the talking.

The pop-bottle poppies are still looking good after two years – Julia was going to take them down last year but everyone asked for them to stay up.

This is the “hedge” between the Mencap plot and the school plot. It’s willow clippings with ivy planted to grow through it.

And finally – some birds. There would have been more but a sparrowhawk swooped by and scared them all away.

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Great tits on feeder – Nottingham

A Tried and Trusted Formula

I’m all out of ideas so I’m falling back on the old stand-by – nature photographs and a cute seal.

The seal did its part, but the camera work could have been better. The need for better camera work is a contiuing feature of this blog.

Here’s a selection of dragonflies, or damsel flies. I’ve not been doing too well at identifying them this year. I must do better in the coming year. But you’ve heard that before, haven’t you?

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It’s an orchid at Strumpshaw Fen – not sure what sort – sorry

Must do better on flower ID too.

I do have some proper subjects to blog about, but I’m just varying the pace for a day or two. That sounds feasible, I think…

A Few Favourite Photographs

 

Now that I look back on my flower photos I wish I’d taken more. They are very comforting in the middle of winter.

I also wish I’d sorted them better as I’ve had to go through 1,300 images to find these.  They are cheering me up already, particularly the blossom. I’m looking forward to blossom time, which seems a very haiku time of year.

I’ve always like grasshoppers as subjects – something that hides in the grass and is prone to jumping when disturbed is a challenge, and a good shot is always a pleasure.

Finally, the Bread Group’s end of year curry. I miss the bread group, the smell of fresh bread and, of course, the curry.

I’m now feeling cheered, pleasantly nostalgic and inspired to write haiku, so it was worth sorting through a few photos.

Some Photos

Here, courtesy of Julia, are the seal photos that should have been in the last post. She downloaded them onto a flash drive, then added her Pied Wagtail photo. Of course, as soon as I returned from running No2 Son to work I tested the camera again and it worked. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?

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Seal at Donna Nook, Lincolnshire

 

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Seals at Donna Nook, Lincolnshire

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Pied Wagtail at Donna Nook, Lincolnshire

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Seals at Donna Nook, Lincolnshire

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Seal at Donna Nook, Lincolnshire

 

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Redshank at Donna Nook, Lincs