Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Hot Cats and a Thirsty Woodpecker

One hot afternoon last week, the cats sunbathed inside.

Forest Cat knows he is the  beautiful one.

Lucy stretching out on the back of the sofa, which gives her a panther`s eye view of birds in the garden.

The Ginger Man .......

....and old Grandma Cat........

.........decide to join Whisper, as it is cooler on the tiles.

Later in the afternoon, a young greater spotted woodpecker is drinking in the birdbath outside the kitchen window.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Along the Sandy Track

This afternoon was hot, but the morning`s blue skies were hidden by misty grey cloud coming in from the south west. We took Whisper Dog out for another walk on his own. He is fitter so he can walk further and more briskly than Old Dog used to do. We try to choose more isolated pathways now, as Whisper can be grumpy if he meets other dogs.

We walked down the steep edge of the Beacon Hill and along pony tracks through gorse and heather. Three young New Forest mares were grazing on sweet grass that they had found between the twiggy branches of a dried up, fallen tree. These three are always together and have been since they were foals. We call them the Three Little Maids ("from school are we..."). The bay pony below and the little chestnut mare are both the nieces of two of our geldings, Woody and Ginger. There is a marked resemblance. It was good to see them looking so sleek and well.

Turning towards the south, we found the old sandy track. This trackway follows the base of the long hilly ridge and leads eventually to a large freshwater pond. It must be an ancient track and was probably used by those who lived on the iron age hill fort and all the generations since. There is a tranquility here, when the background hum of traffic slips away as you walk. Soon there is nothing but the rustling of hillside trees in the wind and the call of heathland birds.

The main track has eroded into sandy ravines along the way and new tracks have formed beside them.

One of several Bronze Age burial mounds in the valley.

Most of the moorland ling has finished flowering now, but patches of bell heather and  yellow dwarf gorse plants brightened the edge of the track.

We climbed up the hill again, looking back towards the eastern Forest edge; across the coastal plain towards the distant Purbeck Hills.

A patch of late flowering ling at the edge of the woods.

At the top of the hill, we followed a path through the holly, into the old beech wood.

Whisper had enjoyed his walk but was getting tired now, so we turned for home along the hilltop lane.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

An Hour at Apple Court Garden

On Friday, we needed a change of scenery and decided to walk around the peaceful gardens at Apple Court, near Hordle on the southern edge of the New Forest. This garden is set within the old walled kitchen garden of nearby Yeatton House. It has been created since 1988 and has plants which provide interest throughout the seasons.

 "The garden was designed as a series of interlocking areas each of which was intended to create a distinct visual impression and to have a microclimate well suited to the particular plants intended to grow in each. The form of the garden was partly dictated by the need to break the force of the coastal winds, the sea being less than a mile away." Excerpt from the Apple Court Nursery and Garden Information Leaflet.

The Nursery at Apple Court specialises in ornamental grasses and hemerocallis (day lilies).

Walking around the garden "rooms" in late August gave us an opportunity to see the combinations of flowers, ornamental grasses, shrubs and trees which give the garden a luxuriant softness in the late summer light.

These young, ornamental silver birches with bright , white bark, looked lovely with their underplanting of santolina and a background of softer pinks and greens.

Mature clumps of grasses, catching the light.

An unusual greenish white "red hot poker" growing through an old rose.

Flowers on the Indian Bean Tree........

....and under the tree, in the corner of the old garden wall, was a door straight out of "The Secret Garden".

Lacecap Hydrangeas

In the White Garden, sculpted cranes centre the lawn, which is surrounded by "an ellipse of pleached hornbeam", behind which there are year round flowers and foliage of white, against a background of dark green yew.

Through a gap in the flowers, a little boy sits reading his never ending book.

Behind tall hedges is the Japanese Garden, where we stood in the wooden tea house, watching huge carp swimming like coloured submarines in sunlit green water.

Three square ponds, where smaller fish swim and yellow waterlilies grow.

In their shady corner of the garden, a family of Croad Langshan chickens wander and investigate beneath the shrubs for food. The beautiful, glossy black cockerel accompanied his wives........

and joined them to rest and bask in the warm sunshine.

Before we drove home, we chose a few more plants for our own garden from the good variety of healthy and unusual plants for sale in the Nursery. Now we have to decide where to plant them!

Apple Court`s own website is at