Archive | June 2016

When the gardener’s away…

Everything grows! Especially if there has been buckets of rain, which I gather has been the case. I have been away for my daughter’s wedding (absolutely perfect day), and for a weeks hiking in Switzerland. Only ten days in total, but I have come back to a jungle!

 

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What’s wrong with that, I hear you ask? Well that is supposed to be a path! Several barrowloads of Alchemilla and Geranium later, and…

 

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See what I mean? The rest of the garden has grown equally vigorously.

 

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I keep discovering little flowers struggling to raise their heads above the masses of thugs-like plants, and I try to clear a patch round them to encourage them to grow. One such is this little white iris.

 

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One of my unidentified shrubs is in full flower, and has shown itself to be a small, double-flowered Philadelphus, or Mock Orange. A nice thing, albeit scentless, but can’t have ever been pruned, as it is huge. I will give it a proper sort-out once it has finished flowering, by cutting out one in three of the stems, to open up the centre and give it an arching habit.

 

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It is lovely to have the garden full of flowers, I just have my hands full sorting out all the arguments and preventing the little guys from being bullied!

 

Who needs butterflies..?

…when there are moths as beautiful as this?

 

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Pink! And with white legs and antennae! It is an Elephant Hawk-moth, named after the caterpillar’s resemblance to a trunk, apparently. They are common, sometimes seen at dusk at this time of the year, feeding from honeysuckle and other flowers. Just look at the size of it, compared to the grain of the wood. It must be the length of my little finger. It was attracted by the light of our moth trap the other night, and settled on the side of the trap for the day, before flying off again at dusk.

 

Most moths are smaller than that, and less colourful, but that doesn’t mean that they are boring. Take this Buff Ermine.

 

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I love his fluffy shoulders, and the contrast of the elegant black antennae. But the pick of the catch had to be this huge Cream-spot Tiger.

 

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It is pretty enough at rest in the petri dish where we put them while we identify and photograph them. But when I let it go into the bushes, it settled with its wings open…wow!

 

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So much as I love butterflies, I like moths even more.

(See here for my other moth pictures from the garden.)

What’s new in the garden this week.

While I have been out and about showing friends around our corner of Devon, the garden has been exploding with flowers and foliage.

 

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Welsh poppies are popping up everywhere, and I can cope with weeds that are as pretty as this!

 

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All the flowerbeds (and most of the patio!) is covered with large leafy mounds of hardy geraniums in shades of soft pink and purple. But in one border is a very special variety, which really stands out for its vivid magenta flowers. I believe it is ‘Ann Folkard’.

 

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I have a passion for Heucheras and Heucherellas, and bought quite a few nice specimens at the Malvern Flower Show last month. I have cleared an area that was just covered in Alchemilla, and planted them along the edge of the path, with three different Penstemon behind to add some height to the bed, and some larger flowers. It should give me colour all year round.

 

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My sister was kind enough to give me two large box bushes that she didn’t want, and that she managed to pot up and keep alive. I have planted them at the end of the driveway, to demarcate the corners of the drive, and I think they look like they have always been there. I have clipped them into neat cubes, and the bare patches will soon infill with new growth. We took cuttings from them and intend to add a low hedge between the two cubes.

 

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The garden is changing so fast now, that I must get out and take some pictures to contrast with the ones we took when we first arrived. If only I wasn’t so busy weeding…

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Gushing rivers, dappled woods, tumbling waterfalls, and a tea shop…

This walk has it all, and more. Starting at Lynmouth, we walked up one side of the East Lyn river, admiring the water gushing past the tumbled boulders.

 

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Taking the fork signposted ‘woodland walk’ took us up the slope and through some beautiful dappled woods.

 

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The songs and calls of wood warblers, a bird only found in western woodlands, were easily heard, and one smart male even flew to a low perch so we could watch him sing.

 

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The steep slopes opened out above us to a thinner wood with a grassy carpet under. Soon the path descended back to the river.

 

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The river then splits into two, and at the junction of the three sections of river is Watersmeet.

 

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There is a lovely National trust tea room, which serves excellent cake.

 

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There are interesting paths along the other branches of the river, to be explored another day.

 

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There are also some nice small waterfalls and cascades.

 

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We returned to Lynmouth down a path on the opposite side of the river, and had excellent views of a heron, dipper and grey wagtails.

 

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The path was just as beautiful, and lovely and cool on a hot sunny day.

 

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I think this is my favourite walk. Nothing to do with cake, of course…

 

 

Beach views

The sun is shining, the countryside is green and lush, and we have been showing friends around our little corner of Devon. The jewel in the crown of this area is the beautiful sandy beaches, but the best views of the beaches come from high up on the cliffs, not down on the beaches themselves, so we headed to the National Trust headland of Baggy Point. The walk to the point is one I have written about before, here, but this time we continued on around the headland and made it a circular walk.

The hedgerows and verges are getting more colourful every week, and I loved this stretch with the pink Red Campion flowers and the fuchsia pink spikes of Gladiolus byzantinus.

 

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Once we rounded the headland the long stretch of Woolacombe beach appeared in the distance.

 

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The paths were easy underfoot, with gradual gradients for the most part, passing through rolling green pastures. This was the view behind us.

 

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As we approached the end of the beach, named Putsborough Sands, the views became stunning!

 

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As you can see, it gets busy at half term…..To be fair, it was mid morning, and the beaches always fill up more during the afternoon, but the beach is so vast that there is always a quiet area in the centre, as the main access points are at the ends.

 

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After a drink and an ice cream in the café by the beach, we meandered back over the headland and returned to the car park via a network of sheltered lanes and pathways.

It was a very enjoyable morning walk, with the best views we have had yet of the best beach in the country.