The garden continues to be my ‘get out of jail free’ card. It isn’t free of course but I walk around at least twice a day and generally potter. This is much to be said for pottering. A time for contemplation.
Yesterday I showed my sister-in-law around for an update. She knows a lot more than I do and helps me identify the plants. I had just made my first addition. So far my contribution has been cutting and removing. Shirley wanted a Camellia that we had seen outside a mews cottage in Winchester. The name she said was something like ‘desert’. Or as it turned out, Debbie. On the way home we dropped in to Beckett’s nursery and lo and behold they had precisely one Debbie left. So we bought it along with some ericaceous compost. It is now in the shrubbery, bedded in with rainwater from one of our butts. I also found a Clematis Montana growing in amongst the trees. A very odd place to plant one.
At the end of the day my moth trap was set up as usual. I went out at 5am to check it and the temperature was on the chilly side so I was not expecting much. As I arrived there was a lot of noise coming from the trap. What, I wondered, might be the cause?
Very large moth? Very small squirrel? Shrew? A slim hedgehog? A frog? It turned out to be a Great Tit. How it got in there I don’t know but it was well and truly trapped. Sadly it had breakfasted on a Peppered Moth, the very same species with which Bernard Kettlewell demonstrated industrial melanism. It may well have eaten a whole lot more. I released it immediately and found a rather small group of 5 cowering moths, huddled in the corner, hissing and spitting in self-defense. Happily two species were new for the garden. More sadly I misidentified one and was thoroughly reprimanded by an expert.
The rest of the morning was taken up with a visit to the Watercress Festival. We hunted high and low but failed to find our target stall. For Shirley the biggest amusement was the sight of Morris Men, both black and white (like the minstrels of old). She was shocked by a dog that stood almost as tall as she does – a Great Dane of immense stature. The Beagle was more her sort. We also sampled Wild Boar and Hampshire Hog baps, though not for some odd reason, watercress. My highlight was seeing the swirling flocks of House Martins. I hope they may honour us with their presence for the summer. For today though I had to be content with three Swifts, scything through the greying sky.
Hampshire is a county of considerable beauty. It is not the Lake District or the Dales. Snowdonia it is not nor is it the Highlands. It is rather understated. The Goldilocks county; not too hot, not too cold. Never knowingly oversold. Old money only here. As we extend our exploratory trips beyond mere house hunting we drive, sometimes unintentionally, through some of Hampshire’s less travelled roads. Shirley constantly remarks on the beauty of it all.
And so today as we took a minor detour home we stopped the car to look at the light sliding across the landscape. And I took this: It seemed a fitting alternative to entering the world watercress eating championship. You can have too many greens.