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Autumn and Winter lack of gardening


Today it is raining. Not the fine Summer rain, nor the heavy lashing Winter rain, but the steady drenching rain of Autumn. It will bring down the last of the leaves on the Greengage tree which have been falling in the pond and covering the grass, which was cut last week and looked for an hour or so almost immaculate. It’s not really grass, more a mixture of clover, buttercup, selfheal and moss, but it looks green most of the time, it has to be a really baking Summer to turn it brown.
Back to the rain and the joy of living in the countryside, or what’s left of the countryside these days. Not the dead quiet (from traffic) that it used to be in my youth when we used to clomp up and down the road on homemade stilts made from tin cans and string. Eventually a car would appear and we would clomp to the side of the road until it passed, then have at least another half hour before another appeared! As children we used to collect car numbers, back in the days when the numbers were low ones. The idea was to eventually collect all the numbers starting with 1 as in AVG 1 on a number plate and filling in the missing ones. What excitement when we saw one we hadn’t got! We would walk to the end of the road and sit at the crossroads of the main road and wait for the cars to come along. Those days it was a wait, might be 1/4 of an hour between cars, then two would come at once and we scrambled to write them down before they were gone again.
The roads were empty and children could safely walk to school or out exploring, missing the sheets of cow-muck where the cows were walked along the road from the field to the cowshed to be milked. None of that now of course, milking cows have been long gone from where we were children, though the milking parlour still stands and hasn’t be re-developed yet.
Sitting indoors listening to the falling rain, with the windows open in this unseasonable warmth, all you can hear is the steady noise of rain on leaves, not the splash of rain on concrete, so it’s mesmerising. Not much to do today, dashed outside when it got light to let out the chickens and Boris and the girls from their shed, even the Peacocks hadn’t deigned to appear from their roost in the barn because of the rain. Sounded so much heavier in there where it was falling on the tin roof.

Now if only I had got round to putting the sheeting in the small greenhouse frame, or mended the derelict greenhouse, I could have been outside doing constructive things in the dry! But at least the garden is getting a watering (with apologies to those of you further North and West who have just been through torrential rain and lashing winds) our garden was quite dry, dig down a few inches and it’s bone dry! The tanks were nearly empty but now I shall have to put the hosepipe on them to empty them again into the pond before they overflow.

Bemoaning yet another Birthday last year I was given some salutary advice “Don’t complain, not everyone gets to your age”. Very true, mid to late 60’s with minor arthritic and ache problems I mustn’t complain, I am now ten years older than my Mother was when she died. At 56 it seemed a reasonable age at the time, devastating but old enough to have lived a good life. Now I am well past that it does of course seem paltry and I want to last long enough to see some of the trees I am planting reach at least a decent size!

I am trying to put in a wildlife pond in the front garden and have got to the stage where it’s gaining water but not to the stage where I can add all the necessaries to make sure that anything that falls in won’t drown. I did add a small log of yew that was lying about for things to climb on, but it sunk! Who knew that Yew didn’t float? Remedied that now. So of course yesterday sitting bedraggled in the corner was a Goldfinch. I brought it in warmed it up and gave it some food. Advice from various sources was put it out again and it will sort itself out. But it doesn’t seem able to fly, so after trying that, it got rescued again and put into the aviary with the Zebra Finches and little Quail, where it settled itself to eating their food. Hopefully it will recover and I can let it out again, if not perhaps it can live happily with some company at least. Rather that than being instant food for the variety of predators we have about here.

The Sparrowhawk has been about again, heaps of pigeon feathers on the garden and she was hovering majestically over the Greengage tree and the grass a couple of days ago, but didn’t get anything then. Not that she goes hungry, my neighbour tells me that she flew into his climbing rose and snatched a Sparrow the other day and there’s always evidence of her eating habits.
No feral cats about at the moment, though you also see evidence I could do without of a cat having been through the garden – if you get my drift!

Sorry there’s no photo’s to this blog, but I will do the second instalment of the Bressingham Gardens blog later with lots of lovely pictures.

Thank you for reading this far and for getting past the maudlin start!!

More blog posts by honeysucklegold

Previous post: Bressingham Gardens, Norfolk

Next post: Birds, birds and more birds - and rats!



Loved this, Honeysucklegold, and see you haven't lost your sense of humour. Reckon you have a book inside somewhere!

We have buzzards around here and last year we had three circling lazily over our garden. Checked the cat was indoors!

No feral cats for some time though new neighbours will be arriving soon with two Maine Coon cats and two others. Vet told me former are quite gentle. Do hope so.

Lots of birds at the bird table the other day. The nuthatch was there and brought along two smaller ones. They can't have produced a brood this late in the year, surely?

18 Oct, 2017


Wonderful memories there Honeysucklegold I was nt bought up in the countryside but it was only a 20 minute walk away I was only telling my grand children the other day how we could play skipping with the skipping rope stretched across the road where we lived watching out now and then for a car that might come down the road only a few cars were owned in our road. The rain hitting on your tin roof reminded me when I lived on a farm in a caravan and the peacefulness prior to the M6 being built up the road frim it.

18 Oct, 2017


So enjoyed this blog Honeysuckle, and it made me count my blessings. Reminds me to be grateful for cow muck on the road and having to wait while the herd crosses the road for milking. Cars on our lane are still few and far between even though the village is growing. But the farm across from my childhood home "up north" has long been built on. I suppose the houses are desperately needed but its sad to see the fields disappearing.

I do hope your little goldfinch recovers - how great to have little quails for it to socialise with while it gets better!

18 Oct, 2017


Thanks Eirlys for being so nice, me wittering on may not appeal to everyone!
We do have Buzzards about here, but not close, you can see them soaring in the distance, but my little bantams would probably be fair game, so though we love the birds, those ones we hope will stay in the distance.
As for Nuthatches, that is something I would love to have in the garden, I have been hoarding large piece of bark to attach to a tree as I think they nest behind loose bark, if not them it's Treecreepers, either would be welcome.
I think your vet was probably telling you the truth I think the Maine Coons are pretty placid - just like to sit about and be admired - they are stunning cats.

18 Oct, 2017


I agree 3d. skipping on the road was perfectly safe, if you did see a car it probably wasn't going very fast anyway.
Your Grandchildren must think you mad, when talking about playing in the road! We spend all that time telling them to mind the road, always look both ways, keep on the pavement - then tell them we used to play in the road.
You're right there is something about hearing rain on a tin roof that brings back memories, strange that, but they do say that musical memories are clearer and bring the whole scene to life, so perhaps it works like that.

18 Oct, 2017


Nice to know Stera that there are still some country lanes about. We had some lovely ones when we were kids, high banks and hedges on the top, looping over to nearly touch above your head. The sunny bits of the bank always had basking lizards and the hedge bottoms hid nesting pheasants and partridges. Then the tractors and machinery got bigger and the hedges were ripped out to allow them passage, so sad, no primroses to pick, soldiers buttons or celandines and goodness knows where the birds nested!
Now some Farmers are turning it around a bit, but you can't replace hedges that have been there for hundreds of years. Sadly the little Goldfinch didn't survive but at least he didn't die out in the wet and cold. I don't think it was his dip that was the problem, I think there was more going on as he couldn't fly and that was probably how he ended up there in the first place. Didn't stop me feeling guilty though.
Best of luck with the cow slurry!!

18 Oct, 2017


Very true Honeysucklegold about music lol yes my grand children do think I am mad but not for those reasons but because I speak as I find and do thing s and dont care what others think .

18 Oct, 2017


I enjoyed it Honeysucklegold! Lovely memories and you described your childhood beautifully. :)

18 Oct, 2017


Well,Honeysuckle, re the cow slurry - it was more mud than slurry but it rotted the chassis on my last car - you can't really wash it underneath after every journey can you? The farmer is doing better recently and the road has been cleaner thank goodness. But modern tractors weren't designed for narrow lanes and it can be a bit difficult if you meet one...
Sorry to hear abut the little goldfinch. We have the occasional nuthatch but haven't seen him for quite a while and we haven't seen the woodpeckers either. Wow you make me feel so lucky - still have hedges and primroses and in spring the lanes are lined with hawthorn and blackthorn blossom.
I hope the buzzards don't notice your bantams! Rooks drive them off if they come near their trees in spring - poor things they are brilliant at hovering but no use at fast escape!

18 Oct, 2017


What a fabulous piece of descriptive writing. No need for photos at all.

We have seen a marked difference down in Devon since moving here many years ago now. Lots more traffic and people generally.

18 Oct, 2017


Gardeners can make up for lost Wild Flowers by planting Primroses and English Bluebells. I have a few.

18 Oct, 2017


Sorry no photos you say? How more vivid can these recollections of yours get? Many times I have regretted that I didn't write down my impressions of what I have seen and experienced in my life. A wonderful blog, thank you!

19 Oct, 2017


I'm two years older than you :) I don't fit into the 21st century. I sometimes post a local photo on here and get comments like 'how peaceful it looks' etc ... It isn't !
I'm sorry your mother died so young. Life is unfair.

19 Oct, 2017


Thank you all for your kind comments. I was just having a 'memories' day yesterday, sounds bring back so many and the rain on the leaves did just that. Memory of a walk along the river when we had to shelter under some Poplars from a Summer storm and the noise on the leaves was tremendous!
You are right of course 3d. I told my daughter that I had reached the age where I would say what I thought, without being cruel, but if people thought I was weird - so be it.

Karen, I just hope that I haven't reached the age that I ONLY witter on about the past, I carry on with the garden as if I am 25 and have a lifetime ahead to plant the trees and see them in full growth, gardeners have to garden for the future, after all none of us know how long we have, regardless of age.

It's lovely to think Stera that there are still areas where the hedges are intact. This area, and probably others, went through a period when the Farmers were paid to rip out the hedges and put more land under cultivation. Out came the hedges, old orchards, Cherry orchard and they filled in all the field ponds. Even with drainage pipes it did them no good as the field flooded there anyway - that's what they were there for! Long may you have your quiet (ish) lane even if the mud and cow muck rots the car. Another memory of waiting behind the herd of cows as they ambled along until they got to the milking yard, nothing more countryside than studying a cows backside!

Wildrose, we were in Cornwall for a few years where the land doesn't conform to large fields and the banks are stone, earth and moss. The Primroses flourished so much in the lanes that they spilled onto the roads and were squashed by passing traffic. And.. because they didn't have the agricultural crops to spray in-numerable times, the spray didn't leach out of the fields and kill the wild flowers. I am sure Devon is much the same, but it doesn't stop the tide of house building of course.

I agree Dianne about us gardeners making a difference, we try by leaving some nettle beds, growing teasels and allowing wild flowers to do their thing as much as possible. The next project is to kill off some of the rank grass at the top of the field where I am planting some trees and fill in with perennial wild and cultivated flowers to take over. There is always something in the garden that wants to take over and can be shifted to the field to create colour - Grape hyacinth can be a real pain in the garden but with a field to romp on would hopefully look good. Also the large white Leucanthemum, Tansy and Self-heal just need to be let loose!

Thanks Loosestrife, it's never too late to make some notes on the computer. No-one needs to know, I have a page or two which I jot memories on (must add the ones above) where as it strikes I add a disjointed paragraph or two. Things my Grandmother told me about her youth and her time in service as a cook, my other Grandmother and her story of picking arms full of Lily of the Valley in the wood, bike-riding through Long Lane while the daffodils coated the banks either side or just pond dipping with my Son when he was small and everything he saw was new and wonderful.

I don't want to fit into the 21st Century either sometimes Hywel. Some things are good, not having to venture from the one warm room and brave the rest of a freezing house to get more wood, the computer to make lovely friends on here, the convenience of a car in the countryside and the phone. But there is a myriad of things I would rather not have to put up with, which I won't bore you with. The world moves too fast, too greedy and too insular. For people on their own there is none of the neighbourliness that there was, we knew ALL our neighbours and most of the people in the village, it's not like that now!

19 Oct, 2017


More thanks for this blog Honeysuckle. Your childhood lanes sound heavenly. We have those soil field boundaries here too but they usually have hedges on top. How wonderful to see a woodful of lilies of the valley! I got over excited when we came here to see woods of snowdrops, but if I saw lilies of the valley I think I'd do a terminal flip....

You really should write a book - if the Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady can make it why not have a go.

19 Oct, 2017


Honeysuckle you have no need to apologize for the lack of photographs at all, the blog is so descriptive I could picture it all as I was reading, enjoyed it very much, I tend to witter on as well, lol, I say if people don't like it the answer is plain to see, just don't read it, don't ever change your style, I loved every bit....
I too have many of the same memories and pleased to say the farmers around here are now back into replacing the hedges and trees, I know the housing estates are still going up but at least they are built now with trees and shrubs included, however we cannot turn back time, I wouldn't want to do without my modern trappings, especially the internet, lol...without it I wouldn't be able to read all your memories and hear about the changes to your garden....

19 Oct, 2017


Thank you LL for the information about farmers. Hope its a general trend all over the country.

20 Oct, 2017


It's a wonderful thought isn't it Stera - a wood full of Lily of the Valley? I have always tried to grow some, in every garden I have had, in memory of my Grandmother, but they have never spread to the extreme of a carpet of them. Perhaps now we are in, hopefully, out last garden I can cultivate them enough to see it. As for the book, who knows, perhaps Boris could find fame in his old age!

Thanks Lincslass, I think perhaps there is now a trend towards replanting and making sure that there are green areas even in closely packed housing estates. I certainly hope so, I think we all need some contact with growing things even if it is only to admire them in passing. I know in Norfolk after they removed the hedges in the 70's there were problems with soil erosion, all the soil washing off the fields onto the roads in heavy rains and they had to put up chestnut fencing across the fields to contain the blowing snow as it drifted unchecked onto the road!

As usual Diane I think there may be a subsidy for Farmers to 'set-aside', replant hedges and trees and create that green corridor that the TV nature programmes are always on about. Money well spent I think, but some of course do it anyway, mustn't demean those that are happy to do so without payment.

20 Oct, 2017


I've found lily of the valley like a shady windy place. Mine are in a draughty dry north facing corner where they are spreading happily and slowly, but its only a small area. My mother had a narrow dry bed of them right up against the north facing house wall. Amazing really! It doesn't seem fair that some people try so hard to grow them in better conditions does it?

20 Oct, 2017


Thanks for that Stera. I actually have three patches of these dotted in various places to see where they like best. One lot at the end of the pond, now being overgrown by a Yew which I have plans for a topiary on! One lot tucked behind another shrub out of the full sun and the others are under an apple tree in the front garden, also out of the full sun. All are growing and slowly spreading - hence the three patches, just can't resist them when I see them reduced in price anywhere!
I will try a North facing position for some more - any excuse!

20 Oct, 2017


Loved reading your blog, Honey. It made me think of some of my childhood memories like chalking hopscotch on the pavement, skipping rope across the road & a line of girls waiting their turn to skip through the arc of rope while chanting the rhyme, clunky skates on our feet as we skated along the pavement, scooping out a hollow to play marbles & hoping to win a prized oncer from the boys.

I used to head off with my dog to scrump apples or pick damsons from the hedge or make camps in the bracken, sometimes just sit in the cherry tree reading a book.
Recently I Googled a place I used to live, I wished afterwards that I hadn't as it had changed so much. The lovely Tudor building, tea gardens & cherry trees had gone & was a car sales place & the bungalow we lived in converted to the companies offices. The apple orchards & hop fields along the lane were no more, all houses now & the lane had been widened to a road with a round-a-bout at the end onto a busy main road.
I know things can't stay the same but I think some memories are best not revisited.

23 Oct, 2017


Oh GF I know what you mean - it doesn't bear thinking about - just as though your childhood had disappeared. All those happy busy country days gone under concrete. Still people have to live somewhere...the field behind our old house where I used to gather mushrooms is now a housing estate and the meadow where I once helped with the haymaking has a school on it. Sigh...

23 Oct, 2017

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