Grand ‘Nest’ Designs

There are always plenty of nests in The Trug garden at this time of year. The cursed ivy becomes the perfect home forBlackbirds and there has been Blue Tits in the box on the Hawthorn tree. Incidentally they fledged a couple of days ago and have been terrorising the garden in a noisy gang ever since. The wrens have not reappeared this year to nest over the garage door. Maybe they’ve figured out it isn’t the ideal spot after all.

The most curious was found by Mr T down in the copse of trees at the far end of the orchard. He finally tracked down the chirping to the bottom of this…

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This is a section of the old well pump that must have served the house at one time, currently abandoned until we decide what purpose it can be used for. The Great Tits had decided to create their nest right at the bottom. Mr T quickly took a shot trying not to disturb the little ones too much or unsettle mum and dad watching nearby. It looked like a small clutch of three.

It seems a strange choice for a location. I’ve wondered if this mimics anything in nature. A hole in a tree perhaps? The parents haven’t been too unhappy to have us around but we’ve been cautious in how much time we spend down that end of the garden to give them the best chance.

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The chirps have increased and strengthened so it seems all is going well over the past ten days. Mum and dad haven’t been visiting as regularly as the Blue Tit parents (maybe this is a breed difference or they just aren’t as attentive) but they buzz up and down the tube with ease. The question is, will the little ones be able to make it out?

… Miss Trug …

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Norman Footsteps

Despite living here for over three years I’m ashamed to say we’ve done very little in the way of walks. The 1066 way goes right past our front door so we’ve had no excuse.

Today was a crisp, bright day so perfect for getting out there and breathing in some fresh air after a week of gloomy skies.

We planned the circular route. Catsfield to Battle and back. About 2 miles there and 3 back on the route we chose.

A fairly easy stride through the edge of Farthing Woods led us eventually to Georges Meadow. Multicoloured cows gave us very little attention as we warmed up climbing the hill popping up behind Battle Abbey. 

Definitely Norman stomping ground.

It was a quagmire at the top and we tried to clean up our boots a little while reading the local gossip daubed in white paint across some old cottage garden wall. Time to grab some lunch at The Bulls Head.

 

How d’you like them onions? Scicilian Honey Garlic

It’s been a lovely day winkling out ideas for the garden from a trip to Sissinghurst Castle (more on that another post) and a sudden detour on the way home to Merriments Gardens and Nursery, Hurst Green in East Sussex.

They have some beautiful garden layouts with lots of ideas that can be transferred to your own more modest plot.

I like the way you can wend your way through a variety of garden types. Meadow, dry garden, herbaceous borders, cottage, woodland shade, bog. The choice is many. Seating ideas also give you a chance to sit and enjoy the surroundings. It did cost £7 each which felt a lot but there is much to see and mostly on our own. Lovely!

We were rather taken by these…


Nectaroscordum Siculum. A member of the Aliums better known as Scicilian Honey Garlic.


They looked rather grand in large groups nudging above other green leaves so we popped in to the nursery and bought a couple. A little researched says they’re easy to grow, will self seed around the garden and are fairly disease resistant. Suggestions were even found on using them for self seeding around a wildflower meadow. Hmmm…

Here they are in their new home.


***Miss T***

Getting a Garrya Eliptica?

When we moved here there was a fairly nondescript shrub growing at the end of the kitchen extension. Well, the boot room tagged on to the back of the house which was turned in to a kitchen somewhere along the way.

During our first winter we began to get the idea that this shrub has it’s moment of glory during these months. A few tassels appeared but they were few and far between. This dud help me to identify our nondescript shrub as the rather special Garrya Eliptica or the Silk Tassel bush.

Through a little research it was clear this evergreen shrub had been trimmed at completely the wrong time robbing poor old Garrya of it’s moment of glory that season. Early spring is the right time once the catkins are fading, then the new tassels will be produced on this years growth. Reading done I hoped I would be able to get things right this year.

There was definitely a marked increase in the number of tassels developing around the Christmas holiday.

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It really is stunning once allowed to do its ‘thing’. This one is pretty much at it’s mature best now at about 12 feet.

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Over the coming weeks they really do get increasingly longer.Like little Christmas tree decorations. If you want some cracking tassels make sure you go for the male form. Those are super long!

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It has suffered a little scorching on the easterly side as they do need some shelter and storm Doris has taken her toll so if you want one make sure you site it somewhere out of the prevailing wind.

You can see I pruned it completely underneath to get more of a tree effect. Nice and tidy now for some light under planting.  A spectacular shrub in winter it’s always a talking point when gardeners come round.

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I heartily recommend one but sadly ours may have to go when the new kitchen extension appears. I’ll be planting a new one though and have seen some beautiful examples grown as small trees.

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…  Miss Trug …

Snakes On A Compost

Ok, so it should be ‘in’ a compost. I couldn’t resist the movie nod however Samuel L Jackson’s tough guy is not required here.

Mr T was digging out the first compost bay and turning it in to the second whilst I was doing the day job. If something interesting crops up then he will always text me  a ‘look what I found’…’did you know’…’look what I made’… message.  You get the idea.

Mid July a few photos appeared. Something reptilian was lurking in the compost. Mr T had noticed lots of burrowed holes networking the bays which made sense when a beautiful  snake  was unearthed and quickly made a swift exit out of one bay and in to another.

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He had seen them last year but only briefly before they slithered away to their hiding places. Never enough time to shout for me so I could see them for myself. Was this one a grass snake or a slow worm?  (Oh, no need to help me out here. I know a slow worm is a lizard. I’m on it dear reader ; )

I’m not squeamish about snakes or reptiles in general. My 70s childhood is full of memories toddling after one tan and one black tortoise that patrolled our little garden drawing in the neighbours to giggle at their shell bashing shenanigans. When Leslie died and then Esme was stolen (grrr!) we purchased Marigold from the local pet shop. A handsome girl with a hot temper. She was one of the last spur tortoises imported for the British pet market. Of course, I am so glad they no longer do this but she has had a great life and continues to create mayhem and carnage in my parents garden. Toes must be protected from her determined nips on a hot day when she comes stealthily under the garden table. All visitors are duly warned.

My point to this walk down memory lane, is that I am rather at home with creatures of a scaly nature. Despite risking the neighbours whispering ‘that weird woman is staring at her compost again’ I do spend time down there in the sad hope I might cop a glance of old Natrix Natirx.

Another photo popped up.

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Last year I recall The Anxious Garden blogging about grass snake eggs in the compost. We didn’t find any in ours but this year has been altogether different. Mr T luckily uncovered these by a well placed dig of the spade which caused the compost to gently drop away exposing the clutch. No broken eggs, phew! Perhaps the snake that sped away was mum? Mr T made note of the position of the eggs in the bay and carefully moved them in to the same position in the next bay. There is, of course, a risk that exposing them to air temperatures and moving them will cause the eggs to fail but we can hope. Marigold laid eggs the summer she came to live with us. Perfectly round ping pong balls in her straw nest in the garden. With research we moved them to a sand box in the airing cupboard and with eagerness an eleven year old Miss T inspected them daily for a glimmer of baby tortoise that might arrive. A tiny shell could be seen developing inside one egg but sadly it wasn’t to be. No mini Marigolds appeared. I do hope this won’t be the outcome for our snakelets (neolate is just too sciency don’t you think?) and that they hatch to help the population continue since they are in a worrying decline.

Another photo arrived.

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What a beauty. I know many of you will have seen them too but I do find it thrilling to know that something so exotic is slithering around in our little patch.

The end note to this blog is how this snake sighting did bring about a little nervousness in the household of The Trug. Last year Mr T came across a snake in the compost which we guessed was a grass snake.  This year’s identification has made us certain that last year’s visitor was definitely an Adder. Sadly he wasn’t able to snap a shot of it before it disappeared but from now on a healthy dose of respect will be exercised when moving logs and various bits and bobs down there in the copse if Adders are making it their home.

Take care through that long grass. Who knows what you might come across…

Missss Trug

 

Year of the Rose

It really has been a cracking year for the roses.

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When we moved a year ago May  the roses were a bit straggly and neglected.

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I tried to give them some TLC before June arrived but a couple of weeks wasn’t enough to give them the boost they needed.

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Autumn/Winter with secateurs in hand I went to it.

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I always start gently but then inevitably end up possessed by a pruning madness.

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That said it usually is exactly what the roses need.

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You can’t be too gentle. They won’t thank you for it.

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They will just end up spindly and floppy with ground facing blooms.

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This year I took extra time with them.

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Lots of watering even though we have had plenty of rain.

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A good mulch of compost.

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A slug of rose food, dug in gently.

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With no labels I haven’t managed to identify them yet. I’m sure I shall discover a few elsewhere on my garden travels.

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I have loved to see them flourish this year.

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The previous owner may have planted them, and the season has been it’s best for them but I like to think I have nurtured them back to life.

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Miss Trug