Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Apple Blossom Time

I have mentioned my very old apple tree in previous posts and as it is in blossom at the moment I thought I would show you some photos of it. I must also mention that Cheryl, at My Wildlife Sanctuary has invited me to join her in a joint posting with links to each other's blog as she too has an old apple tree and she suggested it would be fun to both post on the same day with photos of our blossom. As you may know she has the most beautiful wildlife garden so I do hope you will pop over to visit her as well. I also know that Joe who too has a wildlife garden has posted this week with photos of his apple tree blossom which is well worth a visit here.

I'm writing you, my dear,
Just to tell you,
In September, you remember
'Neath the old apple tree
You whispered to me
When it blossomed again, you'd be mine.

I'll be with you in apple blossom time,
I'll be with you to change your name to mine.

What a wonderful wedding there will be,
What a wonderful day for you and me!
Church bells will chime
You will be mine
In apple blossom time.
(Neville Fleeson/Albert Tilzer )

Mine is, as I said, a very old tree which we think may have been planted in the mid-1930s. I have never been sure of the variety but a knowledgeable old gentleman told me some years ago that he thought it was possibly Laxton's Superb but on further investigation this seems to be incorrect as the apples on mine are ready for picking in mid-September whereas Superb ripens later. I now think it may be Laxton's Fortune but I suspect I may never know for sure. The buds are flushed with a delicate pink and open to white.

HLH and I have always called it our magic apple tree which was a name I borrowed fom the book of the same name by Susan Hill. Most years it bears a pretty good crop of fruit, we never do any major pruning, the birds of course love it, as do the bees and other insects and it is home to a variety of wind chimes and bird feeders. It is nice to sit under; a succession of dogs have laid in its shade, and edible mushrooms have been known to grow beneath it! When it is in full blossom I am always reminded of a bride in her wedding dress.

Up in the tree we see you,
All pink and white;
We think there must be
fairies to protect you
From frost and blight,
Until some windy day, in drifts of petals,
You take your flight.

You'll fly away! But if we wait with patience,
Some day we'll find
Here in your place, full-grown and ripe, the apples
You left behind
A goodly gift indeed, from blossom-babies
To human-kind!
Cicely Mary Barker.

The blossom never lasts long and all too soon the petals start to flutter down like confetti on the breeze with the promise of a ripe harvest to come in the early Autumn.

Well that's it for now, a slightly different post this time, but my next one, in a few days time will be back to the birds.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Spring Flowers and the Secret Life of a Small Bird

The weather has cheered up this week and we have had the return of some glorious and very welcome sunshine. What a change it makes to one's well-being! I don't need it to be hot, indeed too much heat does me no good but sunshine makes such a difference to the spirit I feel.

I have been trying for some time to get a photo of the Dunnock, which rather like the Wren, seems to skulk around in the shadows in my garden, scuttling about under shrubs and bushes in a very secretive way and when it does show itself more clearly it is usually at the bottom of the garden which is around 100 feet from where I am. However on Saturday it obliged at last by coming to the bird bath for a drink.

A rather strange expression coming up next!

I am surprised and saddened to find that this unobtrusive but attractive little bird is, according to the RSPB, on the amber list of species under threat. So many of our beautiful birds which we probably take for granted seem to be in decline. You may or may not know that the Dunnock has a very . . . umm . . . shall we say, interesting, personal life!

The following information is taken from Wikipedia.

'This species makes up for its drab appearance with its breeding behaviour. Females are often polyandrous, breeding with two males at once, and thus giving rise to sperm competition. Males compete for mating access to the female, but DNA fingerprinting has shown that chicks within broods often have different fathers, depending on their success at monopolising access to the fertile female. Males try to ensure their paternity during courtship by pecking at the cloaca of the female to stimulate her to eject the sperm of other males with whom the female has recently mated.'

Goodness who would have thought it?!!

Next in line for an afternoon drink in the sunshine was a female Chaffinch.

Mr Chaffinch decided to be less genteel and drink in the pub instead of sitting outside!

Once the Wood Pigeon arrives for a drink there is no room for the smaller birds!

The garden is moving on apace now and there is a lot of weeding and tidying still to be done, a little less time spent on the computer and a lot more gardening would be a good idea I think! I know I will regret not doing it if the weather turns again.


I could have sworn this Lilac was nowhere near flowering yesterday, or did I just forget to look up!


I planted several minature Cyclamen in the Autumn of 2007, they were flowering when I put them in and continued to flower throughout the Winter and into the Spring but this time although they have all put on leaf only one has flowered and not until Spring. Strangely enough I thought if any failed it would be this one as the soil is very poor where I planted it under a Cupressus tree but it obviously likes it so I may move the others to join it.



Japanese Flowering Cherry


This minature Rhodedendron seems to have been in bud for months but at last they are starting to open now.

I wasn't the only one who enjoyed being in the garden with the camera!

Louis did too!

Well I think that's it for now, I really admire you bloggers who post almost daily, I would love to do that but it takes me all my time to get posts out as often as I do. Never mind, we can't all be the same can we? Have a wonderful sunny week.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

More from my Perch and Nearby

The weather here today has been really miserable with unrelenting rain all day so I thought I would post some photos taken earlier in the week when, if not always sunny, it was at least dry.


There are always Collared Doves visiting the garden and they and the Wood Pigeons tend to take over the bird table. I have noticed in the last couple of weeks that there are a pair of doves who usually fly into our ancient apple tree and wait for the right moment to move onto the bird table.

Then one keeps watch while the other flies onto the roof of the table, where it is eventually joined by its mate.

They then spend some time looking and listening before one carefully manoeuvres itself under the roof and onto the table while the other is still on guard duty. After a while the one on the roof feels confident enough to join its mate.

Eventually they seem to forget about possible predators

and explore the lower tables.

Here are some nice colourful birds to help brighten up a wet day.



A few weeks ago I caught a glimpse of a Wren in the garden, I was thrilled to see it but thought I had no chance of ever getting a photo. However earlier in the week on two different days I was lucky, although I found it difficult to focus properly as I still haven't got a tripod which would probably help to improve all my photos; I really must get one soon.

I am amazed by just how much it blends into the background, the photos below show it scuttling around the trunk of the apple tree hunting for insects and I really think the camouflage is remarkable. I also noticed how it keeps itself at least partly in shade, which of course makes it even less noticeable.

While walking the dog a few days ago I saw this Robin perched high in a tree.

These Celandines were under a hedgerow.

The golden yellow of a Dandelion is to me always a cheerful sight, although I'm not so happy when it appears in my flower beds!

I also saw a colourful tub of rather windswept Daffodils and Tulips.

This pretty border of flowers in front of a cottage.

These in the front garden of another cottage I passed.

Finally I'm not sure what this bird is called which I also saw on my walk.

Well it has got wings!