Sunday, 6 December 2009

A December Garden on a Grey Day

A few days late, I have got out into the sodden garden with my camera. Last night we had 1/4 inch of rain and today has varied between a clear blue sky and heavy showers. Most of the time I was taking pictures, the cloud was building up.

This first picture is of twigs of Belula ermanii pendular, which caught my eye. Sad about the telephone line!

I only took the twigs because I was in amongst the tree to take the mahonia, which is doing very nicely just now.

The Helibore is going over now, having been in full colour for at least a month.
The two roses were the only ones left that could be photographed. Graham Thomas has suffered in winds and rain. The other is an old rose that was moved years ago. I have no idea what it is.

I planted the Euonymus europeus several years ago and it has not flowered or produced any of these lovely red fruiting bodies until this year. I wonder if it is a plant that takes some time to do so? Someone may tell me. Anyway, I am now full of hope for a decent display next year, instead of just one!

These silvery leaves are hiding away and are so much colder to look at than the many gold/yellow leaved shrubs that are all around the garden. Their picures speak for themselves.

I put in this picture because it shows two years berries. The black ones at the bottom are from last year.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

November Garden

Rather belatedly, here is my November garden, pictures taken on the 2nd November.

This Viburnam will flower until next April.

The berries on the Sorbus are eaten late, so we have the display for ages. The branches are well weighed down

The small Mahonia is flowering well and is seen here in context.

Graham Thomas is the best value of my Old English roses, flowering off and on till christmas The Hydrangea came from a co-in-law and is fairly small, flowers well and does not mind our limy soil

The fairly new shrub bed in the far corner is looking appropriately autumy

I love my brave little cyclamen who press on through foul and cold weather and spread themselves too.

Betula ermanii pendula is a joy throughout the winter with its creamy-white stem. The two young ones will not add to the view from my bedroom for a year or two.

The beech hedge was one of the best things I did when I first came. It is a marvellous shelter for the vegetable area.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Kirkheaton Wind Farm

I really believe that we now know what is to happen up the lonnen (track, in Northumbrian)to the dead wind turbines.
They came into production about 2000, so far as I can remember. Since then at least one set of blades has been replaced, involving low loaders and huge cranes. A couple of years ago, men came to repair the blades by abseiling down or along them patching the places where there was trouble.
In about March 2007, two of the turbines stopped turning and later the arms and nacelles were removed and put carefuly on the ground. The other one soldiered on.
Now, more than 18 months on, an application has been made for more time to keep the two turbines even though they are not working, to allow the owners to come to a decision re. their future. A planning condition was that a turbine that was inactive had to be removed after 12 months, so they have had quite a lot of extra time. We await the decision on this application. We know that the Parish Council has not objected.
Today, G talked to an engineer that he found up at the site. This man said that an order had been put in for 3 sets of new sails. Delivery is expected to be December - about the worst time of year to fit them! Now we wait to see what happens.
What ever does occur, I feel sure that the energy expended on these three turbines - building, transporting, repairing etc will require a very long functional period with the new blades to make it carbon free.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

October Gale

I have just come in from a really bracing walk. Not very far, you understand, but quite far enough in the conditions.
We woke this morning to a westerly gale - with gusts over 53mph because the remaining wind turbine was stationary. Much to my relief, apart from beech twigs and mast on the lawn, no damage had been done - and still hasn't. But they really are not the sort of conditions that are conducive to gardening and the walks westward and eastward involve passing under quite a lot of trees, which I did not fancy.
So after lunch, after checking that the Church was alright, I set of southwards. This involved a longish pull up a hill completely exposed to the full force of the wind on my right-hand side, which was trying to blow my walking pole between my legs. Why did I not use it in my left hand? you may well ask. Just my blurdy mindedness. The top of this hill is the site of a WW2 observation point and there is an amazing view. I was able to enjoy it in reasonable comfort because trees have grown up round the site and protected me from the gale to the west.
The Lake District hills were hidden by another piece of high ground. To the south is the northern end of a very large quarry and beyond it a fairly young wood. Glimpsed beyond that were the Durham hills. Going on round to the east, the horizon for many miles is the coast. If I had had my binoculars I would have probably been able to see the sea. As the crow flies it is about 18 miles away at the nearest point. Continuing round towards the north you look over the village towards the Simonside hills near Rothbury and on to Cheviot, the most northerly point of the Pennines. They run on down the west side to complete the view.
It was made more spectacular than usual today by a rainbow reaching from Simonside to the coast and a great black rainstorm from Cheviot to the Roman Wall, which at that point is due west of us.
Walking back down the hill, the gusts felt even stronger and I had some difficulty in maintaining my balance. However, if it does as 'they' say, it should start to ease soon. At least the sun is shining mostly, with small white clouds rushing across the sky, reminding me of the White Rabbit in Alice and Wonderland.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

October Garden

The garden looks short of colour as you walk around, but when I went out with my camera I found all sorts of things. This time, I am showing you what is left of production in the vegetable garden first. Corgettes, a few surviving carrots under the green stuff and barely visible on the left the pyramid of runner beans.Near the back door is this Sorbus, so laden with berries that it is being deformed. It should be growing upright! They are not yet ripe so I hope the berries will be there for some time yet.

This Old English Rose, Sarifa, is the only one in flower just now.

From outside the wall this is always a similar colour but is brighter now. Your have seen this rose before. I do not apologise for repeating it as it gives me such pleasure each morning as I look out of my bedroom window.

Rosa rugosa is covered with red hips, if you look hard

I have a little Lobelia either side of two short stone paths to give some brightness in a dark place. They are still doing well

You can just see the Leycesteria to the left of the Hydrangea. I do not know the variety of the hydrangea as it was given to me without a name, but it does well in our alkaline soil.

This picture does not do justice to this climber, it should be much redder. It is interesting that some has turned and some is still proper green.

The Geraniums keep flowering away. The best buy of the year!
Asters are always valuable at this time, though many are very susceptible to mildew. This one seems to be immune.

Another yellow herbaceous plant

Anemones are so pretty that they make up for the way they invade everywhere.This Helenium has not been here long but is giving pleasure at the moment. I think the grass would please Westerwitch!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Part 3 - Poolewe to Achiltibuie to Home

On Sunday we left Poolewe to go to Achiltibuie. We had to retrace our tracks for a few miles and stopped at the Corrieshalloch Gorge. This was cut by a river running under a glacier a very very long time ago. Now a river runs in the bottom of the gorge with the Falls of Measach visible from a wobbly Victorian suspension bridge. The chasm has 60 metres verticle walls.

The next photo was taken from a layby, later on the road.

We arrived at the Summer Isles Hotel, Achiltibuie, which has a good view of the Summer Isles. That evening we took a walk along the road and on the way back I 'crossed my feet' and fell on my face - literally! I was walking along with my hands in my pockets. I hit my nose slightly, and my chin rather harder. I also damaged my left arm a little and bashed my knee. Later I discovered a painful lower rib, which is still sore - bruised or cracked? If my hands had been free I would probably have broken an arm so was really very lucky. A bag of ice did wonders for my knee and none of it caused any problem for the holiday.

This is a view of Tanara Mor and other Summer Isles. Skye can be seen in the far distance.

One day we headed North to see Kyleskue, where we had hoped to stay. A somewhat more reasonably priced hotel, but the Summer Isles Hotel gave us comfort, good service and excellent food. Kyleskue is in a great site at the end of Lochs Glencoul and Glendhu. The crews of the X-craft mini-submarines trained here in WW2.
This bridge crosses the bottoms of the Lochs. We walked to it in a gale which nearly knocked us off our feet. Taking photographs was very difficult trying to keep the camera still.

We had to go up to Scourie to get fuel but did not have time to go on the 24 very slow miles to the North Coast. There is nothing much more to see there, just the matter of reaching the farthest North!

On the last day we went for a walk on a beach which was not that easy to access. G has a thing
about walking on beaches so that was what we did! Afterwards we went a short way in the opposite direction and were amused by the sheep.
The lamb was looking down at its mates, which it desperately wanted to join, but didn't know how.
The other three were feasting on seaweed, which they love
One afternoon, I went to see a lady who does Hydroponics and organic growing in a very large plastic tunnel. It was interesting to see her plants growing in various different ways. Some were growing in a non-soil medium with their roots reaching down to the water below. Some were in organic raised beds. And there were other methods too. There were very productive tomatoes and strawberries and Courgettes, potatoes etc etc. I have come home with her Herb kit - 4 growing pots to live in a trough, with wicks to take the water up to the plants growing in the special material. I have sown Italian Broad-leaved Parsley, Sweet Basil, Mazuma and a special lettuce. I shall report more on this in the Purple Coo gardening forum.
On Thursday we came home - a long drive back to Inverness, down the A9 to the Erskine Bridge, and so down to Northumberland and home. It is always good to get home to one's own bed but there is also the holiday laundry and catching up in the garden. It now feels as though we have not been away!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Lochewe, Part 2 of the Scottish Idyll

The next morning we said goodbye to Killin. We were heading for the far North West. In order to achieve this we had various options. To go up the West Coast. This would have taken a long time, and we would probably have had to spend a night en route. Go via Fort William - not sensible. So we went east to go west and headed down Loch Tay onto the A9 and up to Inverness. A little way north from there we turned north west and were at last into the mountainous wilderness which took us to the west coast. We arrived at Gareloch at tea-time, so stopped for a cuppa before the few miles on to Poolewe.

The Poolewe Hotel looks down the loch. We were in the annexe, with 2 bedrooms, a sitting room, a bathroom and a kitchen. Yes, you've guessed it, we were in a self-catering appartment on a half-board rate. Good if you can get it. G used the other room as a dressing room and we were able to spread ourselves in a lovely untidy manner. The food was of a very high standard and we ate far too much but really enjoyed it.
On Thursday, we went to the famous Inverewe Gardens, which were visible from the Hotel.

Half the Wall Garden, looking east

An ancient Eucalyptus tree, which had fallen and then grown upwards.

These are two of a number of pictures taken there. We went round on our own in the morning, had lunch and then I did the tour with a guide, which was interesting.

In the evenings we walked up the River Ewe, where there was always at least on person fishing.

Gareloch played a very important part in the war. The Russian convoys gathered there with their escort before heading out to the North of Russia. A terrible number of the men who sailed from here never returned. There was a submarine net across the mouth of the loch, from the north side to an island to the south side. On the south side there were a great many gun emplacements.

It is here that a memorial to the men who were lost was placed. Many of the buildings/gun emplacements are still there - somewhat dangerous now but chilling. The men who manned them must have been terribly cold in winter and bored, with no entertainment, no comfort, no luxury. They were not in danger but what they suffered was pretty bad all the same.

On the third day, we re-visited Gareloch, to walk down the peninsular and find the beach, beyond the golf course.

Here endeth the second stage of the holiday. The third should follow tomorrow!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Holiday in Scotland Part 1

Nearly a fortnight ago, G and I headed up North. Our aim was the far North West but we were to break our journey in Killin where we were to stay in a B & B. We got there in good time so were able to visit old friends for tea. I had visited the house once, many, many years ago, but did not recognise it at all on arrival. The reason became clear when I saw a picture of it before the present member of the family took it over. It was more that twice the size! They had removed a very large addition that had been built on - 24 rooms, if I remember rightly. The resulting mix of the original house and a small addition make an interesting and unusual house. The centre is the very large kitchen, where we had our tea, which has that wonderful feeling of the centre of a family, even when that family is scattered around the country.

From there we went to a certain house with a chain-saw in it. This is very much a part of Purple Coo, which will mean little to anyone from outside reading it. We were met by a handsome Happy Snappy. His wife was in the Studio with a Wizzard. It was sooo exciting to meet the people who made our site (Purple Coo) two years or so ago. In the studio where so many of the pictures that I had seen on their web site and one that resides here, at home. They are even more breath-taking in real life. When you see all Westerwitch's pictures you simply can not be surprised that she got such a great response from the judges a day or two later. Their latest idea of putting pictures on glass is brilliant when you see it with back lighting.

Happy Snapper treated us to a terrific supper and I never heard a smoke alarm, though he assured us it had gone off, while we were in the studio. Actually I thought it was only WW who set it off. It was good too to meet the Wizard, a very interesting person, who takes a quiet seat on the Coo, but who is of great value as part of the team.

And our beloved Head Mistress? I think she was much as I had imagined, having seen the odd photo. But it means so much more when you have seen/hugged the real flesh and bones!! One thing is for sure - she is dedicated to the site and will do everything in her power to keep it going in a way that suits us all. This is no easy task and takes a great deal of her time. She is lucky to have such superb back-up from HS.

Something is missing here - what is it? I know - it is two four-legged friends. They are lovely and I fell in love with them on sight. It was with sadness that we drove away at the end of the evening, to our B & B and the start of our holiday proper.

Sadly, although I had my camera, no pictures were taken, so none to show on here. There will be plenty on the further episodes of the holiday which should follow tomorrow.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

September Garden

When I went out with my camera, I thought there was nothing to look at. In fact I came in with quite a lot of pictures.

First there were my lilies - a little dilapidated but still there and highly scented.

The two-coloured Spireae was a present from Hampshire. The day lily came from nowhere and it is a double. One of those mysteries.

This was the only rose that looked reasonable though there were a lot that were battered.

This old rose has been moved once and now is the only one that is struggling on. It is in front of the 'elephant', a clipped holly.

The hanging baskets, by the back door, have been colourful but have now gone mad. The one by the stable door is very different.

This is a productive little apple - a miniature, not quite as tall as me. It is delicious.

There is a story to this little tree. Some years ago we went to North Cypres and visited Bel Paese, where Laurence Durrel lived for a while before the War. I had read his book - Bitter Lemons - and so asked a drinking place man whether his was the one with the Tree of Idleness under which Laurance and his Cypriat friends had drunk. He reached up and took a couple of seed pods from the tree above his head and offered them to me. 'This is the tree' said he. I took them home and sowed the seeds in a pot and put them in a frame and forgot about them. Two years later I saw that one had germinated. This is the very tree which I treasure. My Tree of Idleness.