Saturday, 30 April 2016

Through the garden gate in April

Another month has flown by and again I am leaving it until the last moment to take your through my garden gate and look at what has been happening in our garden this month!

Our garden is full of forget-me-nots  (which seem to set seed everywhere) and tulips, which are one of my favourite flowers. Although I bought this collection from Sarah Raven last year, it has done well again this year. I noticed looking back on previous posts that the purple variety on the left has been flowering since February!

These are some of the other tulips growing elsewhere in the garden. They are all so different, but equally beautiful. What is the best plant in your garden this month?

We also have some bluebells in one corner of the garden, they were one of the few flowers that were already there.

In the cutting patch/ fruit garden the wallflowers are just coming into flower, we also have a corner of wild garlic. 

Everything seems so slow at the moment, our first sowing of seeds has not been as successful as last year. I'm not sure if it is due to the temperature or the appearance of snails, who have suddenly discovered the greenhouse!, We had snow too this week, it quickly melted but some days, it has felt bitterly cold. We visited Powderham Castle yesterday, which was running a plant fair. Although the views were lovely looking down to the Exe estuary, it was freezing and we didn't hang around admiring the views.

Of course we didn't come away empty handed, there was just too many plants to tempt us. We added to our collection of carnations and geraniums. Below are a few things that I admired at the show. I loved the idea of a hanging basket of cut and come again salad leaves.
I'll finish with this lovely display of flowers grown locally in Devon, aren't they beautiful? Whenever I buy flowers I always buy ones that are in season and grown in the UK.

Other who usually participate "Through the garden gate " are :-

Margaret's Patch

Vintage sheet addict  - (Down the garden path)

Country Lovers

Thank you so much for the comments on my last post it was so lovely reading about all the birds you have seen migrating where you live too. Thank you also to Em from Handmade by Em for nominating me for a Liebster award. I decided a few years ago to make the blog award free so unfortunately I won't be participating but if you haven't met Em and her dog called Barry do pop by and say hello.

Wishing you all a good week,enjoy the bank holiday.
Sarah x

Sunday, 24 April 2016

The arrival of summer visitors

The sun is shining, leaves are slowly appearing on the branches, flowers are lifting their heads above the earth and hordes of summer visitors of the bird variety are arriving on our shores from distant lands. Their journey has often been long and hazardous. It must be a relief to see land once more, and find a safe place to rest and refuel before (for many) heading further inland.

As part of my year of rekindling my sense of wonder in the earth,sea and skies we went on a guided walk in the local nature reserve at West Bexington, which is tucked behind the shingle of the Chesil beach searching for migrant birds.

Dorset is in a popular stop off on the bird migration route. Many of the birds fly over from the Cherbourg Peninsula in France. The first land mass they reach is Portland and from there they will fly along the coast either east or west. Tracking and new technology has allowed us to learn so much more about their routes. It is estimated throughout the world that over 40% of all birds migrate and with a good wind behind them, a bird can cover 1000 Km in 24 hours (see RSPB for more detailed inforrmation about migration.

The views in and around the reserve were spectacular. We saw many birds that we would not have recognized or noticed without the expert guidance. We spotted 38 Whimbrel (a wading bird similar to a curlew),wheatear, common sandpiper, lesser whitethroat, common scoter, tufted duck, shelduck,. They either moved too fast, or were too far in the distance to photograph. The sound of the birdsong mingled with the sound of the new born lambs, this one below had just been born.

Within the reserve was also other surprises of a flowering nature.....
Early purple orchid, false oxslip (a hybrid between a primrose & cowslip, and a marsh marigold.)

There are 47 Wildlife Trusts in the UK which manage 2,300  Wildlife Reserves the majority of which are free to visit all year around.Do you visit any local reserves or a regular basis?  Do other countries have many nature reserves too? There is no better way to celebrate Spring and in their words... 

Spring is showtime, with the almost ridiculously sumptuous shag-pile carpets of bluebells and the deafening chorus at dawn..This is Wild Time in its Hope Mode: when everything seems possible and the next miracle of life is just around the corner: or coming along in the next minute, if only you’ll stop your busy life for a moment and wait for it. Life is teeming all around you: in a hurry to create more life before it’s too late."

After our morning birdwatch we walked from home to a nearby wood to enjoy the carpet of bluebells. I always find it so difficult to capture their vibrant colour. We stopped at this gate to admire the view and appreciate how lucky we are to live in such wonderful surroundings. I often get complimentary comments about my images, but with such amazing scenery it is not difficult to produce a good picture!

Earlier in the week the cliffs opposite us were glowing in the evening light, which encouraged me to go down to the bay to enjoy the sunset. The seagulls were already there admiring the view and as the sun set the sky was shrouded in this orange glow. The two people below enjoying the view from the rocks made perfect silhouettes, reminding me so much of an Anthony Gormley sculpture.

 I hope you have been able to enjoy some wildlife this week too.

Sarah x

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Beating the Bounds around Bridport

"Beating the bounds" is an ancient custom which was carried out to identify the boundaries of a parish. In ancient times this would have been carried out by young and old and the boundary marks would be struck by long sticks or in some parishes boys were beaten or bumped at each marker. Knowledge of the boundaries would be handed down from one generation to the next and it was also an opportunity to bless the fertility of the land.  

This tradition hasn't been carried out in Bridport for the last 12 years so when we were invited to take part we just had to join in!

The mayor (on the right) with the Town Crier.

One of the boundary markers

The Mayor and Borough Surveyor in boats
 In ancient times the boundary would be strictly followed no matter what stood in the way. Back in 1891 the Mayor and the Borough Surveyor had to cross a large Millpond in North Mills using a large wooden float. The float began to sink the mayor fell in the water and the Borough Surveyor needed rescuing, all of this was much to the amusement of the crowd. Luckily this year thanks to the sea cadets there were no accidents!

The Town  Crier awaiting their safe return

The boundary of the parish is around 7 miles (11km) in length. it was interesting to visit some areas where we had never wandered before and also enjoy seeing further signs of spring.
Some dogs came too!

The town of Bridport viewed from one of the hills.

Another thing I have always longed to do was to listen to the dawn chorus with an expert. So we got up at 4.45am one morning last week and joined with others at the Kingcombe Meadows Nature Reserve.

It was a crescendo of sound and it was quite difficult to identify the different bird songs, We heard over 15 different birds including wren, blackbirds, robins, black throat, mistle thrush, song thrush, great spotted woodpeckers, chiffchaff, great tit, rook, goldcrest, pigeon,nuthatch and a swallow.

Has anyone heard the cuckoo yet or seen their first swallow? As we drove home after a good breakfast we spotted a jay and a hare, it was a wonderful end to a early start!

Do you recognise any bird songs or calls?  We are already able to identify more sounds. We were told the best time to learn the sounds was in the winter when there are fewer birds around and when they can be easier to spot.

Thank you for visiting, wishing you a fun week ahead.
Sarah x

Sunday, 10 April 2016

A legacy of bulbs

Sidmouth in Devon is one of our favourite places to visit at any time of year, but in Spring the landscape is transformed into an explosion of colourful blooms. This legacy was left to the town by Keith Owen, an ex RAF pilot, who left his £2.3 million to the town to create a valley of over a million bulbs. Keith had made his home in Ottowa in Canada and travelled all over the world. His mother retired to Sidmouth and on his visits home, he grew to love the town. He felt the town reflected "England as it used to be."

 As you can imagine it has been quite a job to plant so many bulbs, and each year more bulbs have been planted to reach the target of a million. His wish was to get everyone involved and so the planting has been carried out by numerous organisations within the town, with an age span from 2 to 90! The bulbs cover all varieties from snowdrops and crocus, through to daffodils, tulips and bluebells, so there is always something to enjoy from January through to May. Sidmouth had already won awards in Britain in bloom and this legacy has just added to it's reputation.

Vistors are attracted to Sidmouth not only to see the bulbs, but also for it's coastal position, the Regency architecture and the Sidmouth Folk Festival.It is not the first time I have featured Sidmouth in this blog and it probably won'tbe the last! If you are ever anywhere near the locality I do recommend a detour.

The painted words above the local department store

Finally, I'm ending the post further along the Jurassic coast back at my home at West Bay. I wanted to share these pictures taken on my way to a meeting the other evening. (As usual the camera was in my pocket!) The sun was getting low in the sky and the view of the shore was like this.........

 but as I turned the corner down to the harbour the colours were so different - both so beautiful in such different ways!

Wishing you a pleasant week ahead. Thank you as always for leaving your lovely comments, I'm glad you enjoyed the story of the primroses, the majority of us seem to prefer the native variety.

Sarah x


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