Monthly Archives: May 2016

Eggstravaganza!

One of our White Silkie bantams Katty Clean-Doors (see post ‘words for snow’ under Bantams category) has taken to the nest. She stopped laying and started sitting on the Lavender Pekin’s infertile eggs for about a week but as we have no cockerel, it would be a long wait and she would be in for a huge disappointment.

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Our neighbour just up the road also has bantams and whilst admiring our rhubarb over the fence, happened to ask if any of our bantams were sitting. They had a clutch of (hopefully) fertile eggs but the mother wouldn’t  sit on them and they didn’t want to have to resort to a heat lamp and incubator. She brought the eggs round and put them under Katty who immediately fluffed up and purred …. yes purred ! They were date marked and it takes exactly 3 weeks so now  we are eagerly awaiting to see if we will have chicks for Open Garden.

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We have had no takers for the ‘des res’ bird box with camera… Not even a spider. However, the Collared Dove has been busy making a nest out of the most scant of materials in the Tree Honeysuckle.

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…..and there are currently two eggs.

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Mrs Blackbird has made a nest in our Cryptomeria Japonica ‘Sekkan-Sugi’ near the raised beds ….

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…and is sitting on five lovely blue eggs.

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Fasty returns!

The garden is looking really good now; just 4 weeks to the Open Garden event. We have been really lucky with lots of sunshine and not much rain so every thing has put on rapid growth. Phil has been out watering regularly and even had to top up the pond.

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The dahlias are in and should be a riot of reds and burgundys right through ’til October.

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Yesterday we saw the return of a rare friend …. Fasty the Slow worm was spotted in the border disappearing under the vegetation. Luckily Phil caught him before the dogs noticed. He’s dropped  his tail recently so looks a bit short!

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Fasty the Slow Worm

The Anguis fragilis, or slow worm, is a limbless lizard native to Eurasia. It is sometimes called a blindworm.

Slow worms are semifossorial (burrowing) lizards, spending much of the time hiding underneath objects. The skin of slow worms is smooth with scales that do not overlap one another. Like many other lizards, slow worms autotomize, meaning that they have the ability to shed their tails to escape predators, by breaking one of their tail vertebrae in half. While the tail regrows, it does not reach its original length. They are not that common in gardens but can be encouraged to enter and help remove pest insects and snails by placing black plastic or a piece of tin on the ground. On warm days, one or more slow worms will often be found underneath these heat collectors. One of the biggest causes of mortality in slow worms in suburban areas is the domestic cat, against which it has no defence.

The females give birth to live young (ovoviviparous birth). In the days leading up to birth, the female can often be seen basking in the sun on a warm road.

Although these lizards are often mistaken for snakes, a number of features differentiate them. The most important one is that they have small eyes with eyelids that, like other lizards, blink. Unlike snakes, they may also have visible ears. They shed their skin in patches, whereas most snakes shed their whole skin. Also, the pattern of their ventral scales is totally different from that of snakes.

He’s a very welcome visitor!

 

Tidying the Borders

It’s another fine sunny day in our Eden Paradise and only 5 weeks until the annual Open Garden event. Today is also someone’s 3rd birthday …..

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It’s all been a bit much for Shackleton

Our Borders  are looking their best now that their coats have put on some new growth after being stripped in April.

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Rigsby

 

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Rigsby

Time now to strip the other borders of weeds.

Single White Female

A chrysalis suddenly appeared in our summerhouse and we have been trying to guess what would emerge. Yesterday we saw the arrival of a Small White butterfly.

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Single White Female

She’d barely had chance to pump up her wings when she was spotted by a resident spider intent on an easy meal.

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Approaching Menace

 

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Just Dessert?

Nature seems very cruel sometimes but even spiders have to eat.

Face Time

The river Eden at Armathwaite flows through a sandstone gorge. The sandstone is actually fossilised sand dunes formed 250 million years ago when this area was a hot desert.The towering cliffs have five faces, a salmon and a poem (a corruption of ‘The compleat angler’ by Izaak Walton 1653) carved into them. The carving of the poem is thought to be the work of a Victorian gentleman, William Mounsey and dated 1855. The faces, one of which is represented in the church window (see ‘Return to Eden’ post in ‘stained glass’ category) are thought to be considerably earlier.

The faces are only accessible when the river level is very low and a spirt of adventure and the possibility of an ‘early bath’ should be given some consideration.

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Bob, the proprietor of our village shop Eden Stores is looking to sell postcards of Armathwaite and so Phil took these photographs on a blazing hot spring day (25c !) last week.

Sloe recovery

It was 6th December 2015 when Cumbria was hit by devastating floods. We remained dry but the river Eden was in the order of 30ft above its usual level and the water was up to the second storey at the castle (see earlier posts ‘Eden; a troubled paradise’ and ‘Gate expectations’ in the Tales from the river bank category for photos).

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The river has changed the landscape and the sloe bushes along the bank  which were the source of our Christmas sloe gin and sloe vodka were swept horizontal, weighed down by the detritus carried by the river. After the water receded the bushes looked beyond help. However, Spring has arrived and we noticed that the sloe bushes have started to recover and amongst the tangles of captured flotsam are flowers.

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Still life ….

We are hopeful of a good crop of blue loveliness this Autumn.

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…..Still life

It was good to see other signs of new life along the river …. two families of Greylag geese, ancestors of the domestic goose.

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Greylag goslings