Tag Archive | beech

First walk of winter

Yesterday was the first day of wintry weather here, with hail showers on and off all day, and a thin layer of hail settled over most of the garden. The temperature was a chilly 4 degrees, and it was hard to remember that on Tuesday I had been out for a walk without a jumper.

Today hasn’t been much better, with rain or hail all morning. By lunchtime we were getting cabin-fever, so started to analyse the weather predictions, which offered a potential dry spell in the afternoon.  Dressed ready, we were out of the house as soon as the last drops fell, and drove a short distance to the start of the northern section of the Tarka Trail.



The Tarka Trail is a long-distance footpath , and our local bit runs along the old railway line between Ilfracombe and Barnstaple. Except that it doesn’t…there is a gap between Willingcott just to the north west of us, and Braunton to the south. One day they will connect the two pieces up, as they are currently purchasing all the necessary pieces of land, and then the path will run 100 metres or so from our garden. That will be very handy!

Parking in the deserted car park at Willingcott, we set a steady pace down the smooth tarmacked track, enjoying the fresh air, even though the skies were leaden. Soon we were treated to a view down the steep wooded valley towards the grey sea at Lee.




Not a soul was to be seen, despite the rain staying away, and we soon started to descend down through the steep-sided cuttings towards Ilfracombe.




Finally some other souls emerged from their cosy living rooms, and we were greeted and sniffed by a variety of happy waggy dogs. The trail passes a lovely old wall with huge beech trees apparently sprouting from the top…




Finally we reached the first of the two reservoirs at Slade, a small community on the outskirts of Ilfracombe. Such a tranquil place at this time of year, I imagine it must get more visitors in summer, either fishing, or picknicking on the grassy bank. Today, all that was there was a pair of dippers, which were lovely to see.




There is another reservoir further on, but we had reached our allotted turn-around time, based on out predicted weather window, so we set off up the gentle but unrelenting slope back to the car. We arrived as the first drops started to fall, so it was nicely judged. Home for tea in front of the log-burner and the tennis, feeling much happier for some exercise.


One project finally finished

We have a new path! It starts under my rose arch…



..and crosses the bare patch left by removal of a huge patch of Rosa rugosa.




As the ground was already bare soil, we decided to level this section of path. Eventually we would like all our paths levelled – it would make walking much easier. In the spring we will sow grass seed to cover this all with lawn.

Then the path runs across the central meadow area, which has been cut down for winter, but will be long, swaying grasses next summer. The far end of the garden has been left to grow long to encourage a variety of wildlife, and we have strimmed a new path through this area too.




So now there is a long path, and more importantly a view, from near one end of the garden to the other. Hopefully next spring it will all green up and look inviting. In the mean time, levelling the path left us with the problem of many barrowloads of soil…but luckily another of our problems was very uneven grass in the orchard. So one problem has helped solve another.




Once again, it just needs seeding in the spring. I did manage to get some grass seed on the lower area of the bare patch, so that is greening up nicely, and looks so much better!




The autumn colours continue to astound me. This is a small cotoneaster bush…




The Beech trees in front of the house have nearly dropped all their leaves now, which have been laboriously swept up and stored to turn into leaf mould. Spring here may have been all yellow and green with all the daffodils, but autumn is definitely orange and crunchy!









The garden in May



I have just come back from a long weekend away, and we have had a mixture of warm and wet weather, and the changes in the garden are remarkable. The big beech trees by the driveway are now in leaf, as are most of the other trees.




Everything looks green and lush! The flowers (and weeds)  in the main border are shooting up.






The Pieris has finished flowering and is now covered in shiny new red leaves.




A tangled mass of dead stems has turned into a lovely Clematis montana




My Lithodora are in flower, in such a vivid shade of blue!




There are hardly any tulips in the garden, but these red ones are rather nice




I planted an Exochorda macrantha ‘The Bride ‘, only a couple of weeks ago, and all the buds are now open, making it a column of white blossom. Eventually it will for a large, arching shrub, and will be stunning!




While tidying around my seed trays in the cold frame, I found not one, but two species of amphibian! There were two small frogs, and also four baby palmate newts. Aren’t they lovely!




There isn’t really many damp places for these guys, and it is getting very warm here now, so I decided to create a mini pool for them. We have a brick built barbecue, which we may or may not use, and next to it is a little cave for a gas bottle to sit. I have placed a large plant saucer there with a heap of stones both inside and out, and will keep it filled with water. Hopefully it will give them a damp place for hot days.




The most exciting thing in the garden is that the rhododendrons are starting to flower! I seem to have a mix of colours, and will show you all the different flowers once they all open, but this is a glimpse for now.



After the storm

Storm Imogen hit the South West pretty hard yesterday. The wind was very strong, and then it got stronger, and the odd gust was ridiculously strong. We postponed our shopping trip which would have involved two high bridges over the Taw and the Torridge, and it was a good thing we did, as both were closed later in the day. Instead we stayed inside worrying about the huge beech trees which tower over our drive. The cars were moved to safety, but in fact, only small twigs fell.

Further down the garden we were not so lucky.




The top of a large sycamore fell, and broke off two other branches on the way down. Ah well, more wood for next winter’s fires.

The wind also tore the door off the old blue summerhouse, spreading broken glass over the garden. Another thing to be replaced when funds allow. We knew it was rotting, and wouldn’t last long, but had really hoped it would have survived this year.

Then, to finish the day off nicely, at about 4pm the power went off, to our village and two neighbouring ones, with at least 6 hours estimated for fixing it. Sigh…

The wind was starting to ease a little, so we drove to the coast to see the state of the sea, from a safe distance, I might add. It was difficult holding the camera steady, so the pics are not good, but the sea was very impressive with a huge swell, lots of white breakers, and foam everywhere.








We then joined most of the population of the affected villages in the fish and chip shops of Braunton for our dinner. Never have they seen so many customers on a Monday in winter! We dawdled over our dishes, making the most of the warmth and light, then returned to our cold and dark house. A merry blaze in the woodburner soon took the chill off the living room, and we lit all our candles and chatted for a couple of hours. Then it was downstairs for a chilly night’s sleep. The power came back on during the night, and the freezer shows no signs of defrosting, which is a bonus. The house took a while to warm up today, not aided by a stream of short, sharp hailstorms, and even some snow.




Even though we are 4 miles inland, our windows are now covered with a layer of salt! Roll on Spring, this is getting boring now…