Sunday 28 June 2015

A day at the beach


A happy spell of good weather and Paul having a whole week to spend here gave us the opportunity to head for our favourite bit of the seaside, a wonderful patch of undeveloped shore. The area is a nature preserve and has nothing to encourage daytrippers except sandy beaches, dunes and exceptional wildlife.

seaside euphorbia

The variety of flora is intriguing, I would never have expected euphorbia to colonise sand dunes along with several sorts of orchid.

cropped orchid

I had never seen a Lizard orchid, Himantoglossum hircinum, before and these were really beautiful. Some of the sources on the internet suggest it has a goaty odour but I didn't find that although there was a definite scent. Maybe I just like the smell of goats. There were also pyramidal orchids and another sort, possibly Southern Marsh orchid but my pictures are poor and I'm not very experienced at identifying orchids.

bryony on the beach

There were lots of other plants some of which may have been introduced, a patch of Centranthus ruber didn't seem likely to be native, nor did a single outcrop of bugloss although it added some lovely colour. Irises planted under a shelter belt of conifers also seemed out of place. The bryony probably was a local, although it was stretched over a plant I think must have been privet.

glanville fritillary

It's not just plants either. Each year we find a species we've never photographed before. This year, it was the Glanville fritillary. This isn't a great picture - all the pictures here were taken with my Z3 phone - but you can see some better shots on Paul's flickr stream along with a Brown Argus and a Small Heath.

Sunday 14 June 2015

Out to grass

13 grass

Today is rather gloomier and more overcast than expected. Even so, the gentle warmth and still calm is pleasant after the last week of ferocious winds followed by storms that took away my internet and the torrential rain that seemed to be about to wash everything away; although in the end it was a blessing to the vegetable patch.

14 grass

When this grey murk clears we are forecast ten days of sun and complete drought, so I'm hoping everything is making the most of the moisture while it can. The dryness will at least help keep the blight at bay for a little while longer - there are already Smith period warnings for Jersey.

I am entranced by the beauty of the flowering grasses this morning and have taken far too many pictures, none of which capture the real pleasingness of the actual plants. I've picked a few for this blog but there are more on my Ipernity pages following on from the link.

19 grass

It may not suit anyone with a grass pollen allergy but if you able to enjoy access to old meadowland or even a vergeside left feral then it's a wonderful source for reflective meditation, being graceful and fragile and yet absolutely tough and rooted in the present.

15 grass

In a startling reprise of last year we had another visitation from some loose young cows yesterday. This forced me into interaction with the local farmers because they needed to be collected and taken home.

Unlike last year the stock didn't belong to the stud next door but because of the contact we have revisited the idea of them taking our fields for hay this year, something which is of advantage to me in saved fuel costs and to the meadows as letting the cut grass lie as we've been doing will eventually damage the ecology by enriching the soil too much.

12 grass

Because we don't have animals grazing intensively here there is a delicate balance between removing material and retaining soil fertility at the right level for a complete ecosystem. It's not something that I believe has been much studied from a veganic point of view so we are experimenting while flying blind.

7 grass

The pyramidal orchid has thrown up a flower spike again which I was glad to see the cows had missed as they browsed their way along the lane. It's still small and unimpressive but it should get bigger over the next week. Still just the one that I can spot though which is a shame.

meadow brown

And the Meadow Brown butterflies, quintessential denizens of old grass land, re-appeared a couple of days ago. They'll be here all summer now, quiet and unassuming and very difficult to photograph.

17 grass

Sunday 7 June 2015

Gardening in slippers

small tortoiseshell

If you were looking for advice on gardening in slippers mine is don't. Your slippers get wet and full of grit. It's not comfortable. Doesn't stop me doing it though.

Small tortoiseshells have made an appearance in the last couple of days. I'm glad, this year seems short of butterflies of all types and the windy weather of the last few weeks hasn't helped me catch them on camera either. It's not that we're short on varieties, rather that each species seemed to be represented by just one or two examples. I'm hoping that the next ten days, predicted warm and dry, will help bring up the numbers.

tidy greenhouse

I've tidied up the greenhouse and set the tomatoes, cucumbers and melons in their final spots. I still have to tie the wretched smelly things in, always my least favourite job particularly in hot sun. Most people I know revel in the yellow stench making happy faces and saying how lovely and summery it smells. It just gives me a headache. Still, it'll have to be done.

The first flowers on the toms are just beginning to open. I took a picture of the winner, on Surender's Curry, but decided one tomato flower looks just like any other and left it out. Luckily Surender's is a bush grower and needs little pruning which makes it a double win for me.

Basil seedlings

Basil. Inspired by another blogger I bought some peat free starter pellets made of coir and used these to start the seeds weeks ago. I nearly lost the lot and won't be repeating the experiment. The pellets may have some use for cuttings, maybe lavender which I have plans for later in the year, but for seeds they are simply not right. These survivors are finally beginning to grow now they're potted on.
flowers on the tomatillo

Out in the garden the tomatillos have started to flower. It's not what I was expecting from previous crops, the plants are very short if sturdy. Let's hope it's the variety which was 'Large Purple/Green' from Realseeds and not a sign of horrible stress and imminent death.

Heading over to the potato patch for the first harvest of the season I found this volunteer oca growing up next to the row. It looks much happier than the tubers I started this spring from overwintered stock but I can categorically state it's no seedling, we haven't had that oca flower here since 1969 (not quite true but some will know what I mean).

volunteer oca in the potato patch

flowers on epicure potato

And here they are, potato flowers are so beautiful.

The new potatoes are small but perfectly formed and I shall enjoy them later. 

first new potatoes - epicure