Sunday, 31 July 2011

Woodland - July

Some photographs from my walk in the woodland today. It was shady and cool with dappled sunlight. There trees looked very similar to last month but there seemed to be less vegetation on the woodland floor. The footpath was almost overgrown last month but some of the plants have died back leaving the path clear again.

We have had very little rain lately and the stream running down the valley had dried up and although the stream bed was still damp, it was beginning to crack and dry out. 

Only one new flower this month, the tiny flowered Enchanter's Nightshade.

I also noticed a lot of cobwebs, particularly in the holly bushes.

The view looking up shows the canopy to be even more dense than last month casting deeper shade on the plants below.

Friday, 29 July 2011

knitting at the sea-side

Some more photographs from my trip to the south coast, this time sea-side knitting, decorating the esplanade.

 I have seen photographs of "yarn bombing" or "guerilla knitting" but this was the first time I'd seen the real thing.

Back home, a quick google search revealed that yarn bombing is prevalent throughout Portsmouth and Southsea - pictures here.

More pictures of "yarn bombing" from around the world here.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

at the coast

An early morning visit to the coast. An empty beach,

just the plants for company.

This is Eastney beach near Portsmouth. It is a conservation area because of these plants, areas of vegetated shingle are rare and home to many rare species.

sea cabbage

sea radish

sea bindweed

yellow horned poppy.

.Over 100 different species of plants grow here which is amazing given the harsh environment. There is more information about the beach and plants here.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Summer lawn

A lawn full of "weeds" but I like seeing wild flowers amongst the grass and watching the bees in the garden.

I cut the lawn this afternoon so now it looks neat and tidy but in a couple of days the flowers will be back.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Photographing summer

sweet peas from the garden

Today is the last day of summer term. One of the main advantages of working in a school is the long summer holidays and I now have six weeks to spend as I like.

Each summer I find the weeks race by and at the start of September when the academic year starts again, I wonder where the time has gone. This year in an effort to slow down and notice the details of each day, I want to photograph my summer. So often it is just the big important dates that we record and remember so this year I'm photographing the everyday things as well.

To start with, sweet peas picked from the garden this evening and now filling my bedroom with their scent.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

In my garden

This is the first summer for years that I haven't had my allotment to grow fruit and vegetables so I have been trying to squeeze some into our garden at home.

The photograph above shows the extent of the garden, rather dominated by my rotary clothes drier which I usually remove and put away in the shed when visitors see the garden! The picture is taken from an upstairs window which faces west, so the border alongside the right hand fence faces south and is sunny when the sun is high in the sky but along the south and west boundary are trees and shrubs in neighbouring gardens that block a lot of the light. The house shades the garden in the early morning.

Despite this I have had some success fitting in a few crops, trying out several to see which works.

There is a grape vine growing up trellis on the back of the house producing small black grapes, the bunches are starting to develop.

Alpine strawberries are dotted throughout the garden but do better where they get some sun.

Everything is mixed together, here are broad beans next to chard with the blueberry bush in the background.

The beans haven't been very prolific but at least we have had a few. Next year I am thinking of autumn planting so that the plants can get established when there is less competition from surrounding plants to see if this increases the yield.

I have just two courgette plants.

My raspberries which grow in the sun up against the fence are autumn fruiting ones which seem to do well and are very easy to look after. I just leave them alone until February when I cut them down to a few inches above ground, all the fruit is produced on the current seasons growth.

This year I have grown kale for the first time, black kale

and curly kale

which is doing surprisingly well since it is tucked behind the beans.

Here is another picture of the beans, the ones on the left are purple climbing french beans grown from seed saved from last year and there are runner beans on the right.

In the small border alongside the shed I have a few strawberries which are over now, kale and lettuce. At the far end is a dwarf apple tree, Discovery which however I try to stake it insists on growing towards the light.

I have two bigger trees in the garden. This is a crab apple, John Downie, which looks lovely covered with white blossom in the spring and the bright orange fruits at the end of the summer (some photographs here). It looks like it will be a good crop this year.

The second is a Bramley apple which is very vigorous and rapidly out growing its space and and is also laden with fruit.

Trying to keep a succession of plants growing is proving difficult as I run out of space to put things, here are a few young chard plants growing under the redcurrant bushes

and a few lettuces planted amongst the spring flowering plants underneath a self seeded elder bush.

I've picked two pounds of red-currants this year from two bushes, not a great yield but the plants are in shade for almost the entire day.

Last but not least, salad leaves growing in pots, all at different stages of growth, this one still protected from the local cats!

So far I am most pleased with the pots of salad leaves, the red-currants and the chard. The strawberries have been disappointing but some of the plants were new this year and they spend most of the day in shade which isn't ideal.

Overall though I feel that the garden has been quite successful and taking these photographs has made me realise just how much produce can be grown in a relatively small garden.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Birthday weekend

Last weekend our eldest turned 21. Three years ago he celebrated his 18th birthday, the big important birthday, legally an adult, able to vote, drink and buy alcohol and so on, which left us wondering how to mark his 21st.

He is working long hours at the moment but last week managed to get both Saturday and Sunday off and decided on a weekend away. This is what he chose to do.

Firstly Bristol to visit a particular record shop, followed by coffee in this coffee shop with a lovely secluded courtyard garden.

Then up to the downs at Clifton to admire the views of the Avon gorge

and take a stroll over the famous Suspension Bridge.

Having had his fill of the city, we headed over the Severn Bridge into Wales for some quiet countryside  and walking.   We camped in the Brecon Beacons.  

The following day we were woken early by the dawn chorus and after breakfast and mugs of tea we drove to a car park north of Pen-y-fan. We started walking at 7:00am and by 8:30 the younger members of the party were at the top although it took their parents just that little bit longer!

We were rewarded for our early morning walk by perfect conditions, bright sunshine and clear views.

There was no-one else around as we followed the path upwards, just the sound of birds and sheep.

Pen-y-fan and Corn Du

Pen-y-fan is the highest mountain in South Wales at 896 metres.

The views were slightly hazy but we could still see for miles.

Looking across to Corn Du, 873 metres

On the way back down I took pictures of the patchwork of fields and woodland

and also of the twisted hawthorn trees, the only trees growing on the mountain side.

We were soon back down to pack up the tents and enjoy a picnic before reluctantly leaving Wales behind and returning home.  

Just a short weekend away from home but we packed a lot in and it was exactly what the "birthday boy' wanted, so a complete success.