Friday, 19 October 2018

Out looking at birds

 On our recent visit to the local Wildlife Trust Reserve at Wolesley, I spotted these Honey Fungus fruiting bodies on a dead log. They had almost carpeted the top of the log. There seems to be a lot of fungi about this year.
 Just a short way away were these Shaggy Pholiata.  They are often found around the bases of trees.
 Nearby was some kind of Dung Fungus.  I do not know which one this is, but it appears at a site where Geese and Ducks roost a lot.
 Spotted a Wren hunting for insects in a nearby bush.
Then along came a Greenfinch.  These birds are much less common than they used to be.
On the way home we stopped at the Canalside farm shop and saw some Shaggy Ink Caps in the car park.  They are edible, but also on a cafĂ© car park.


Saturday, 6 October 2018

The Trees are Out

 Tidying the garden was the order of the day.  All of the old plants have now been removed from the greenhouse and cuttings made of choice plants.  I have also germinated several trays of grass seed to extend the lawns at a later date.
 Two semicircular beds have been dug over the last few days to enhance the old tired straight bed at the side of the top lawn.  They are now nearly finished.
 I engaged Alex Mizen, tree surgeon, to remove 3 of the Leylandii at the top of the garden.  This has opened out the prospect and provided more light for the raised beds.  It's good to see professionals at work.
 It is surprising how much Leylandii you can get in the back of a truck!
The stumps were a bit of a trial.  The end one was left tall and pulled down using a block and chain pulley and a bit of brute force.  These trees were buried at the base by a mound of builders rubble and earth.  The next job is to level the ground and recover the holly hedge that has grown out at an angle under the Leylandii.  Glad to be rid of these trees.

Friday, 14 September 2018

RAF 100

The Royal Air Force are touring the country with aircraft and staff to celebrate 100 years of the RAF.  This weekend they are at Manchester, Albert Square, in front of the Town Hall.
 The aircraft are being demonstrated by RAF personnel in period uniforms.  Here a Battle of Britain Spitfire is in the care of period costumed pilots.
 I wanted to see the Sopwith Snipe that was reported to be on display here today.  This old aeroplane was protected in its own tent from the damp weather.  This is essentially an improved version of the Sopwith Camel of WW1.
 It is quite a rare event to be allowed within touching distance of such an old aircraft.
 A 15 minute walk away was the Museum of Science and Industry.  They have a collection of  old aircraft in a remarkable old trade hall building.
We were able to inspect the cabin of a trident airliner.
And all just a train ride away!

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Autumnal Feel

 Blackberries are now fully ripening,  These wild ones are small but very sweet.
 The Hawthorne bushes are full of haws.  Always a good sign that Autumn is starting.
 A Cracked Boletus (Boletus chrysenteron) is erupting over the top of a Mycena (Mycena galericuata). Both fungi fruiting bodies are in the early stage of development.
 Dead Mans Fingers (Xylosphaera polymorpha) are emerging from a rotten log from a fallen tree.
 Not sure of this one, it could be a waxcap or a champignon, but I suspect it is neither.  One to be avoided!
Gymnopilus penetrans on an old dead tree stump.

The feeling of the end of Summer is all around, and the nights are starting to close in.  We are usually thinking about putting on the winter quilt at this time, but it is still above 18 degrees C outside.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Squirrel Issue resolved

For years, squirrels have been pinching stones from our garden gravel and burying them in the lawn and garden.  Today is the day of reckoning, We have purchased a small box of grass seed.
 The side of the greenhouse was laid with 10 bags of gravel,  When I took the gravel up in almost filled 4 of the original sized bags.  I have built up the level with garden soil.
 The soil is coming from the base of three Leylandii trees which are due to be removed next month.
 These trees were planted on a mound of building rubbish by a previous owner of the property.  We discovered a copper tank top and heater element, a manhole cover lid and various bones and stones in the mound.
Having watered and seeded the soil, I have covered the grass seed with a fabric layer to stop the birds from eating the seed.  It should germinate in a few days and that will make the seed bitter and unpalatable to the birds, so the fabric can then be removed.  It should look good in a couple of months.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

The Hedge

We have had enough rain in the past few days to invigorate the garden and fill the water butts.  This has inspired me to tackle the holly hedge at the top of the garden.  I was hoping to cut is sooner, but nesting birds then drought made me put off the job.  Now is the time to do it.
 The job has taken me two days so far.  It is always nice to see a clean and level(ish) top to the hedge.
Just the problem of what to do with the clippings that did not fit in the recycle bin.  It may take a month to clear those!

Friday, 6 July 2018

The Heat

The past two weeks have been hot and dry.  The impact of this weather has been seen clearly in our garden.
With heavy clay soil, the usual problem is a very wet garden.  In drought conditions, the soil turns to a thick dusty hard crust and the plants suffer.  The side lawn is losing the lush green colour and looking very parched.
Some of the plants at the top of the garden in the shade of the trees have died back completely.
The top lawn is able to retain moisture, so the grass still looks good, but stressed trees are already shedding leaves in this area.
At the moment, there is a voluntary request not to water lawns and garden plants or use hose pipes.  Some plants, like this blueberry, have been moved into the greenhouse to protect the ripening fruits.  I have not seen a slug for weeks and all of the snails are closed down for the duration.
The foxes are spending less time in the garden, mum is coming to collect scraps of food to take back to the den.  One concession I have made is to top up the pond to keep the amphibians stress free.  The water butts in  the garden are almost empty now.  Rain is expected in a couple of weeks.  I do not recall this type of weather since the Summer of 1976.