Friday, 23 March 2012

In a Flowering Wood

Last Sunday, we walked in the woodland garden of a local nursery (MacPenny`s of Bransgore) on an afternoon of cloud interspersed with bright blue sky.

The tall old oak promised to break bud soon.

Late snowdrops......

....the first bluebell I have seen in flower this spring........

...and red camelias high above our heads.

Sweet scented mahonia.....

....camelias and a honey bee......

Dappled sunlight on eucalyptus.......

.....and along a woodland path.


......a vivid pink azalea......

...and South African Snowflakes in a sunlit border.

Trees of interesting shapes from far-off lands.....

....and everywhere, the dance of sunlight on flower, stem, bark and leaf.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

These things I found......

....on a walk through the garden and down to the end of the fields.
Celandines shine through oak leaves on a patch of earth by the kitchen door.

At last, the daffodils are flowering.

Bluebells spears in a border. Behind them , ground elder is waking up to fight another year against Mr DW`s fork and spade.

In the field, a plastic bag has blown across the hedge from the Forest roadside.

A fox must have stolen Mr DW`s gardening glove. It is in the far field, a long way from the place it was last seen. I pick up the glove and smell the stink of fox.

A small stick monster emerges from a rabbit hole. I wonder how it arrived. I didn`t put it there.

Hazel catkins burst their yellow pollen into the breeze.

Oak buds swell.

Hedgerow elder leaves are opening.

Back in the warm, light greenhouse, lettuce seedlings sprout and turn their first green leaves towards the sun.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Springtime Ponies "In the Rough"

The temperatures have risen here and today has been warm and sunny. A lovely early spring day of birdsong and opening buds. We had rain earlier this week, so the grass is beginning to grow again. This is a good time to photograph the ponies in our care, so that we can monitor their condition and hopefully prevent too much weight gain and its accompanying health risks.

They are all native ponies and have wintered well on a little hay each morning and evening, plus a small, low calorie feed containing a vitamin and mineral supplement.

The Grey One, our New Forest orphan, is no longer a foal. He is rising five this spring and now stands at around 14 hands high. His coat is as long and fluffy as they come, but underneath this he is well covered. I can hardly feel his ribs, so hay will be reduced now and he will be carefully watched. Hopefully he will soon begin some training with a view to backing him later this year.

Jay has worn a rug all winter and is enjoying the feel of warm sunshine on his back. He has lost a little weight but has a small extra feed of cool conditioning mix for his supper. He is sleek and glossy and I am looking forward to gently riding him again this summer. He and the Grey One are great friends and both have the kindest of temperaments.

Woody has a long back, but he is looking sleek and well despite being in a small field. Another one to watch as the grass begins to appear.

The retired old Golden Girl has wintered much better than she did last year. She will be twenty two this spring. She has kept her weight on and will need a smaller grazing area as summer approaches. Her winter rug came off for the day and she has had another wonderful roll in the mud since this photo was taken!

Our neighbours` cat on the fence. A feral stray who turned up in her garden, he has been cared for and fed so that now he is a fit, fluffy young cat. He does not like being touched but watches me working in the field from a safe distance.

The Ginger One looks wild and woolly after the winter and will need his mane sorting out one day soon.

Chocolate Pony follows on behind.....

....and both of them are well covered after the winter. They are currently in a smaller field and on "Weight Watchers" rations.

Walking back across the fields, I had to undergo the usual camera inspection from the Grey One, who would follow me around all day if he had the chance.....

Friday, 2 March 2012

The Kingston Lacey`s Community Garden - Sharing the Land

Last spring, when we came to see the Kingston Lacey snowdrops, we were very impressed with the new project across the lane in the old Kitchen Gardens of the estate. The National Trust was planning to create over one hundred allotments to encourage local people and community groups to grow some of their own fruit and vegetables. The old Kitchen Gardens are the focus of the project and a large field alongside the gardens has been subdivided into allotments. This spring, it was so good to see many of the allotments in use and local gardeners were there, preparing their plots for sowing and planting when the weather improves.

A beautiful golden retriever in an estate cottage garden, came to the gate to inspect all the visitors.

A netted plot of winter brassicas.

A sign to celebrate the success of the project.

Work in progress on the allotments.

Two of the pigs who helped to turn over the soil when the allotments were first created.

An old grape vine growing along the wall of one of the Victorian glass houses.

Restored glasshouses and cold frames.

One of the original gardener`s sheds.

A picnic area encourages the growing sense of community among the allotment holders.

One of the old greenhouses, with fruit and vines still growing inside, awaits restoration.

It will be interesting to watch this project develop over the coming years. Already there are plots for local schools to cultivate as well as raised beds for disabled gardeners . Future plans include recreating an orchard and a pond.