Saturday, May 19, 2018

Eye Protection

The stone chip hit the bottom of my safety glasses and ricocheted in to my cheek. A colleague, when I asked why he did not did not wear eye protection replied "It's all in the blink" my response "Let's hope so , or it's all in the eye" I don't think my eyelid would have offered much protection.
When working with stone always wear eye protection.  

Monday, May 14, 2018

Salix & Cercis go together like...

Every year I hope that the cream and pink colouring of the Salix 'Hakuro Nishiki' will be on full show before the flowers of our Cercis canadensis fade and die.

this year is coming  pretty close, but no cigar.

I should not complain, as the new leaves of the Cercis give a whole new colour combination with the Salix.

Feed the pollinators: Fruit Garden

The early blooming apricots, are susceptible to late frost or a lack of pollinators. With the prolonged cool weather throughout April, it was the very end of the month before the flowers opened. The last frost was a week past and the pollinators were out and about. Hopefully there will be plenty of fruit to share with the squirrels, birds etc. 

The nectarine is usually the next to flower, being self fertile, only one tree is needed to ensure fruit.

To have any chance of a cherry harvest, netting the trees to prevent bird predation is essential.

For cross pollination, we have two varieties

The peach, this one given to us by a neighbour as a seedling he germinated from a pit, always flowers reliably and sets fruit. 

After waiting five years, this is the first time our Damson plum tree has flowered and only half a dozen or so at that. Not enough to make a whole lot of jam, but there is always next year.

Our Asian pear is only four years old and this is the second year of flowering. The fruits have to be thinned to get reliably good sized fruit.

The Bartlett pear will quickly grow to a formidable size and the fruit unreachable, unless pruned regularly.

Best to keep it confined to a bottle.

The 14 espaliered apples which surround the enclosed fruit garden were bought as whips and trained along the fence. A time consuming, but worthwhile endeavour. 

Each espalier is a different variety of apple, resulting in a varied display of flowers and fruits.

 Inside the enclosed fruit garden, we cultivate black currants,

red currants

and gooseberries,

 along with blueberries, which are presently flowering.


and blackberries complete the cycle.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Getting Stoned

Igneous is bliss, but never take it for Granite, because Schist happens, so have a Gneiss day.

What do this N. Ireland peninsular

and this J.M.W. Turner painting have in common?

or this Yorkshire Dales museum exhibit

and this circular stone structure

How is this 18th century chimney

related to this 21st century folly

This original cobbled street

and this set of steps have a similar story to tell

All will be revealed at the Killingworth Library 9th of May, 7pm
Please call (860) 663 2000 to register.

Monday, May 7, 2018

The dreaded lily beetle

Thank goodness the lily beetle is bright red and therefore easily seen against the green leaves of the lily.

 Keeping your lilies beetle free does not have to be a summer long battle. At this time of year daily checking and  killing beetles by crushing, or dropping in soapy water and checking for eggs on the underside of leaves by loosely grasping the base of the lily stem and running your hand from bottom to top.

If you see the bright red eggs, simply rub out. follow this daily routine for a couple of weeks and then on a weekly basis and your lilies should remain beetle free.

If the eggs hatch, it does get a little messy as the grubs cover themselves in their own feces, so wear gloves.

I find the process worthwhile, because the flowers are spectacular

and the Lilium Regale fragrance is intoxicating.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Turkeys for Ticks

Next to guinea fowl, turkeys are the best for keeping your property tick free and also like guinea fowl, they will let you know if a stranger enters your property.

Both males (toms) and females (hens) forage constantly from dusk to dawn

except in the Spring, when toms display daylong.

A young turkey is called a poult and a group of turkeys is known as a rafter. This is a relatively small rafter,

as a hen can have as many as 18 eggs in a clutch. This hen hatched 14 poults.

Turkeys tend to forage primarily with their beaks and do not have the destructive scratching habit of chickens, so they are allowed free access to the gardens.

The long piece of skin that hangs over the toms beak is called a snood and is extended when he displays.

Every evening the chickens return to the hen coop, whereas the turkeys prefer to roost outdoors.

On the rose and clematis arbor.

Under the grape arbor,

or high up in the trees, here silhouetted by the moon.