9/11/2015

Last of the Summer Wine.


The recent unexpected sunshine has brought with it the temptation to walk rather than work; it seems a shame to sit at a desk when the weather is so mild and the winter months and darker days are only weeks away. We visited the nearby Victorian garden at Biddulph Grange and came away with a young Monkey Puzzle tree: no doubt a great mistake as they can grow huge and our garden is miniscule. The gardens at Biddulph have many themes, my favourite is the Japanese garden which has a lovely lake surrounded by ornamental trees. Ever since I was a child I have longed to visit Japan, maybe one day..... If my six numbers ever come up!


I took this photograph of a nearby lake, a favourite with dog walkers and fishermen alike. Although access is restricted you can walk around part of the lake and into the nearby woods. Our little dog used to love this walk, so much so we scattered his ashes nearby. I like to think his spirit is happy here, I am sure it is. We made so many friends walking our dog in these woods, so many people from different walks of life, all united by their love of dogs. In fact, we have kept in touch with many of them and because most of them are in the autumn of their years I am often reminded of the TV series "Last of the Summer Wine".




When I was not walking I was painting, this time more miniatures. My subject matter has been linked to lakes and water so it was a special treat to listen to Radio 3 whilst I worked. One piece of music has lodged in my mind; Sibelius 5th Symphony, a song for swans inspired by the sight of sixteen swans circling above a lake near the composer's home.




My garden has been full of butterflies this year, so it would be unreasonable of me to object to the many caterpillars that have been happily munching their way through my nasturtiums, I think they are cabbage white? It was fascinating to watch tremendous battles between wasps and caterpillars. The larger ones seemed capable of thwacking the wasps with their bodies as they flicked them away into the path of smaller, less able ones. The wasps made short shrift of the younger caterpillars and gobbled them up greedily. I checked back today and they have all disappeared and the plants seem to have survived ok. I have collected lots of seed for next year just in case.


12 comments:

  1. We have had something eating through many of the oaks here in Massachusetts. I would prefer they were eating the nasturtiums as they are really doing some damage to these beautiful old trees. I love the image of the swans circling over the lake. I will listen to the song for swans later today as I am taking quite a long road trip and it's nice to hear music I haven't heard before.

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    1. I heard about the damage to the oak trees, it fills me with horror. It seems all our trees are under attack, we are very worried about our ash trees here in the UK. I hope you find the music, the swan bit is towards the end.

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  2. Valerie don't worry about your monkey puzzle tree being too small for your garden. They are slow growing so it will drive the next generation mad when it grows to a great height (or even the generation after that).

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    1. I am sure you are right, if it ever gets that big!

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  3. Val, I've enjoyed the nature reporting in this post. I fell the same as you do about wishing to visit Japan.

    Your miniature painting is a beauty!

    I had seen mentions of monkey puzzle trees in many novels before I ever saw one, in front of a friend's cottage. I was quite impressed! Since then I've seen them at Kew...and now am delighted to know you've got one a'growing at your place. Perhaps you will give us annual reports of its progress?

    xo

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  4. Now I have Sibelius running through my head! Well done for making the most of the weather, I've wanted to visit Biddulph Grange for years. I read that Monkey Puzzle Trees do well in a very large container, too?

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  5. If my tree survives its first birthday (which somehow I doubt!) I will gladly give you an annual report. When I say tree, my plant is only inches high but I like to dream.

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  6. I love Biddulph Grange Gardens they are always a joy to visit no matter what the season. I hope your new tree thrives, it will take a long time to grow. Love your painting of the black swan. We noticed a pair on the lake at Trentham Estate a couple of weeks ago - have never seen any there before. I wonder if they will stay?

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  7. hi Rosie, there is something very fairytale about black swans isn't there?

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  8. It's lovely to be out in the sunshine when as you say, the dark and cold winter days are only weeks away, eek! I hope we all have some sun over the weekend to be able to enjoy some time outside. Have a lovely weekend Valerie!xx

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  9. I echo Jess, it's been too short a summer - I love the new swan painting! And you are far more tolerant than I with wretched cabbage whites...

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  10. This spell of sunshine has certainly been a welcome treat and the butterflies have been dancing around each day in my garden loving it too. What a lovely place to go and always remember your little dog. As we get older walking in beautiful places seems even more precious.
    There is a monkey puzzle tree in our village, fascinated by it since I was a child.

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