Life’s a Beech

The extended process of leaf fall continues. For a month or more the garden Oaks have bedecked the perimeter in burnt gold. Islands of green make the finery especially eye-catching. The Acers are almost finished and the Ash already stands bare, revealing its mistletoe. The Beech and the Poplars have turned too. The Field Maple is a bright greenish yellow, shining out against the backdrop of the wood behind our fence.

Three weeks ago we felled a poplar. The frequency with which it was dropping heavy limbs was becoming dangerous. So the lower trunk now lies awaiting what nature will. The upper trunk lies cut into rings. Some are going to be turned into tabletops. Others will be split and stored. The leaves go to leaf mould. The branches went to chippings and mulch. Nothing has been wasted.

My interest in leaf mines continues. I spend a lot of time staring down my ageing microscope. This has brought me into a closer relationship with trees than ever before.

After the big blow of Storm Angus the garden is covered in leaves; the impossible jigsaw, more pieces than space and no blue sky to start us off. Suddenly the Ash is reaching up, gnarled fingers like Sadequain, bare, arthritic and up-pointed. I fishnet the pond clear, a daily chore I welcome. As I walk out I gaze upwards and check the treetops for life. Then round the bushes, snapping my eyes across to any bird chatter. The rattling Mistle Thrush, the seeping Treecreeper and the Firecrests, my annual hearing test that I celebrate passing one more time. A Grey Wagtail struts across the leafy lawn, picking at mid-morning dim sum.

Inside the logs burn hot and the dog inspects my work, nuzzling against my legs as I sit on the wooden floor, feeding the flames with another log of Cherry. The curtains are closed, and darkness is shut out. The only glow is the twin tubes of a moth trap, destined to catch nothing most nights. The night is long now and Spring seems far away. Slowly the garden shuts down. These are the nights for reading and thinking. The planning horizon shortens a little each year but long after I have passed to ashes and dust the Oak, the Beech and the Ash will grace the landscape. I cannot live without trees but the trees can live without me.


If you go down to the woods today

Well I saw no teddy bears but I did find a couple of other things of interest.

The most interesting thing was jelly. Some lumps of opaque jelly on rotting wood. Some of the jelly globules had black dots in them and immediately I thought of frog spawn. But in January? On rotting wood? So I posted the photo on Facebook and quickly received the reply ‘regurgitated frogspawn’. Then another more specific reply, most likely Exidia thuretiana but if you can see any white crystals inside them it makes them Myxarium nucleatum. And then again Looks like some very old Bird’s Nest Fungus in the bottom right too! (The specific IDs came from Richard Shotbolt).

My curiosity led me to crop the image and look at the Bird’s Nest Fungus more closely. Then I noticed the black dots in the jelly looked like tiny bugs. So I am seeking advice again. What do you think? What have I photographed here?untitled-9untitled-7I also photographed a Lesser Celandine – very early indeed. And this beautiful lichen, which may be Graphis scripta.Crustose lichen

Other efforts produced less than satisfactory results but at least I enjoyed the sunshine. And no rockets launched last night. Three days to go until we head off to Vienna. Chores tomorrow. A trip to Heathrow on Thursday and taking Lulu to her hotel on Friday. So passes the week. And only Goldcrest and Sparrowhawk added to the garden list today. This is getting serious.

Back from the Outage

It has been a difficult day or two. We had no working internet and no landline. I had to use my mobile phone to create a hotspot. The signal is already so weak here it proved almost unworkable.

I have written a piece on the first month of moths at the Lodge and if you are interested I have put it up here.

The highlight yesterday was a visit from our friendly Roe Deer. He had his breakfast whilst we had ours. I took some photos from an upstairs bedroom window. This is my favourite.Stag stareAn evening stroll around the garden produced this common but attractive plant, which I now know is Bush Vetch.Vicia sepiumAnd if you are wondering how the azaleas are doing, well here is the answer. Going strong.Garden RedBack soon, all being well.