Green grow the grasses o!

The rain is whispering on the other side of the sash windows. At last the green is returning to the garden. We need a day or two of this. It is perfect. Gentle, unceasing. Yesterday I sobbed inwardly at the state of the hydrangeas. They need a lot of watering and the contents of the water butts are being used to bring succor to the more delicate plants. The rest of the garden is left to fend for itself.

Yesterday hedges were trimmed and we allowed summer light to fall onto the copse floor for the first time in many years. The boundary trees remain untouched but canopy openings are being created. We will soon clear some of the debris. Leaving brush piles, rotting trunks and logs for the wildlife.

Yesterday the garden was echoing with the cries and screeches of the young woodpeckers. They were back to the nest hole again. Perhaps they have designs on it for next year. Who will prevail? Today a Wood Pigeon sits forlornly on the orangery roof. Bedraggled. Feathers darkened by heavy drizzle. Eyes blinking away the droplets. An adult rabbit lopes around in the copse. This year’s Robins are now sporting their hunting pink waistcoats. They wait patiently as I inspect the moth traps, waiting for easy pickings.

We have two wasps nests to deal with. One is next to the bathroom window. There must be a gap in the mortar. The wasps fly close, hover briefly then dive in. Their stream of comings and goings is constant. We leave the window open but they never come in. Too busy. Too preoccupied. The other is above a bedroom. They fly up under the soffit boards. There must be an up draft as they fly directly at me at eye level, and then at the last moment they veer sharply upwards. The flight path is always the same. They also pose no threat. However the house is to be decorated and repaired outside and the decorators will not venture into the territory of the wasps. Yesterday I found another Hornet. Very dozy. I learned also that males don’t sting. I must learn how to tell the sexes apart so I can ‘handle with care’ and impress my friends. The hornet whisperer. He never gets stung.

I suffer from teleophobia. Self-diagnosed. The older I get the worse it becomes. I would far rather watch the rain fall and the leaves rustle than set myself to a task. My intentions are always good but the execution is inevitably put off to another day. My only goal this weekend is to visit another National Trust property. Hinton Ampner is nearby and I shall try to persuade Mrs. Ha to come along.

I apologize for my absence on many of your blogs. Is anybody else struggling to get the WP Reader to work? I have sent endless crash reports but to no avail. It launches and then promptly closes again. I can read on the web but that is more difficult on a mobile device and any time I spend on the laptop is usually to do with photography. Then I am called away again.

Not many moths this week as the wasps are eating them all. I did rescue this one though, True Lover’s Knot it is called and I leave you with that to enjoy. Apparently it frequents heather. As far as I know I am without heather in the garden so it must be just passing through.Lycophotia porphyrea

Lycophotia porphyrea

Lycophotia porphyrea2

How does your garden grow?

We celebrated our gift of membership of the National Trust by visiting The Vyne, near Basingstoke. Far better to be near Basingstoke than in it. As George V almost said, Bugger Basingstoke. And they did.

I wanted to see the gardens. As chance would have it we ran out of time and never went into the walled gardens. Next week, said Mrs. Ha. We did however walk around the open areas and through the house. Thoroughly recommended. I added to my gardening library with 2 hefty NT books, just to get more ideas. Mrs. Ha was delighted to see horses, cows and a significant number of semi-feral children. I heard the dulcet tones of a would-be Joyce Grenfell calling to her elder hooligan son, George, don’t do that. The younger offspring was writhing on the floor, wailing in distress as a result of a particularly vicious running kick to the legs from the hooligan. A more enlightened mother might have given her elder cost centre a kicking of his own but sadly the Victorian approach to child care seems to have gone out of fashion.

Here are some of today’s NT memories. untitled-1The English at Playuntitled-2The Garden Ponduntitled-4-2Use the side door please….untitled-7Power to the Posh People?untitled-12A red hot poker, especially for George.untitled-20Mrs. Ha sprinting ahead.untitled-24Cows should be seen and not herd?untitled-26

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untitled-29Some of the best stained glass you will ever seeuntitled-31

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Lullaby July

Half way and a few barley corns through July and the land is wailing for water. Tonight three hours of rain are forecast. The water butts will be replenished if I am lucky. Although the longest day is past and summer is in full swing the nights can still catch a chill. Last night the maximum was ten Celsius. Still a good number of moths flew. Not so many as to overwhelm me and enough to give me a good return. Eight new species for the garden and the species clock ticked up to 310.

Two nights ago I had a problem with wasps. If the temperatures are low they are dozy and easily moved on. Nothing to see here, move along please. If the mercury rises much above fifteen C then they are active, more numerous and hard to usher away. In doing so I lost quite a few moths. I believe there may be a nest nearby so last night I moved the actinic trap across the garden and sited it near the pond. The MV trap stayed in situ. This trap gets fewer wasps but seems to lure the hornets instead. Although they look fearsome they give me far less bother. Two last night and one had not survived.

The young rabbits are not showing themselves and the deer has been marked absent for almost a week. The wildlife is perhaps in a lull.

A review with the gardeners brought another insight into the history of the plot. After walking it several times they have concluded that my pond was originally a moat. It makes sense. The huge rocks, undoubtedly imported, were in fact stepping stones. Then someone must have sealed off either end of one section and created the pond. The soil where the old moat was situated is very fertile and easy to dig, quite unlike the other side of the plot. There I have clay on flint. Whether I shall attempt to restore the moat is a moot point. No (bull)rush.

Next Thursday another hazel will be coppiced and that will open up a large area of the canopy. The hedges will be trimmed after checking that no birds remain nesting. Our stroll also produced a find I was very happy with. The flower emerging from the scrub under an oak tree and a fir tree turned out to be Common Toadflax, Linaria vulgaris. It looks like a tiny snapdragon. It has many local names. They include butter & eggs, bunny mouths and rather oddly impudent lawyer. See if you can spot the lawyer here.Common Toadflax

Common Toadflax

Just a few moths to grace the blog today but all new for my garden and very welcome they are too. Two indeed are regarded as scarce and are doubly pleasing. I shall declare my garden a SSSI if this trend continues. The ancient woodland patch behind us, of which our copse is a tiny fragment, seems to hold a rich species diversity, possibly comparable to some of the more well known woodland sites. This is undoubtedly simply a function of recording. I doubt if anybody has surveyed the patch before. It is vital that these relict woodlands are preserved. Keeping a record of vulnerable moth species is just a small contribution to any future fight for habitat survival.

Parascotia fuliginaria

Parascotia fuliginaria

Ptilodon cucullina

Ptilodon cucullina

Tethea or

Tethea or

Idaea rusticata

Idaea rusticata