personality trees

blossom on the tree

The last two visits to the land have both been overnight stays. The first was undertaken with some planning and a lot of stuff; the second was a wild, last-minute decision to go supermoon-gazing (still with quite a lot of stuff, and an artist we kidnapped… well no, he came willingly, forsaking comfortable hotel bed and a decent breakfast, the poor man.)

No gardening happened on either occasion, but that’s OK. Well, actually, no gardening could have happened because someone has walked off with my fork and spade. My fault, I suppose, for not posting “No Trespassing” notices, but very annoying all the same. The bird feeder was still there, hanging from its tree, but no bird had been near it in a week by the looks of things. Which is odd, because it had been completely emptied out the week before. Perhaps the phantom, garden-tool-nicking goblins are into refilling bird feeders. Too, too helpful of them!

Anyway, I’ve done some research online for signs to post: No Hunting, No Trespassing, that sort of thing.  I think I’ll go with that, rather than the blair witch pentacles, skulls and dead crows solution suggested by one Twitter friend, very very tempting though that is. (But watch this space for some super-moonlit, blair-witch-inspired shots!) I’m also now attempting to convince any friend who’ll listen that deer fence installation is the new leisure activity du jour. Imagine it: lovely camping trip, all-you-can-eat BBQ on the Saturday night, and … er … 600 ft of fencing to assemble. No worries. Piece of cake, really. Practically puts itself up…

Let’s look at some nice pictures of trees.

All trees are lovely, of course, with unique stories and personalities, but here are three that grow close to the edge of my forest boundaries. They could be sentinels, guardians of the perimeter.

This silver-white tree, with one large bough growing almost parallel to the ground, is right in the SW corner of the property. Lying along the bough, you can keep watch over the creek, with its little bit of sandy beach (featured below), and look out over “enemy” terrain… just joking!

Tree Guardian 1

raccoon prints on the beach









Walking back along the western(ish) boundary, you see these guys: hollow trees with a lot of character!

Tree Guardian 2

Tree Guardian 3


This one looks like a little horned sprite from certain angles!




We even saw a sprig of mistletoe lying on the forest floor, although we couldn’t work out where it had come from.




And finally, so much fun to put the kettle on after a woodland walk! (Note the luxurious, breeze block seating.)

putting the kettle on!

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virtual housekeeping

I’ve been wondering for a while now if I should ditch the Gallery page on this site. A Gallery seemed like a nice idea when I was starting out, but I don’t see myself using it much now that I’m just putting images straight into my blog posts. So, out it goes, but there’ll be a new page – a virtual bookshelf – coming soon, maybe even next week (oh the joys of Spring Break!!) I’ve moved old Gallery images to the blog posts that referred to them wherever possible, but my first Gallery post was free-standing, so I’m reproducing it again here… And why not, since it’s about one of my favourite places? (I bought my parents a Green-level Subscription to the Alnwick Garden for Christmas, and they’re looking forward to seeing it in all its spring glory when it opens again on April 1.)

Favourite places: The Treehouse at Alnwick in England

A tree house complex, built around and incorporating some larger, old trees (leaving space for them to continue growing). In addition to an excellent restaurant (book ahead!), there are other little shops, deck areas, walkways and bridges threading through the trees. It’s lovely.

Inspirational project and design... and with a great restaurant too.

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planting and planning

The first seeds have been planted inside – tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, squash and cauliflowers – and so I need to start preparing beds for them on the land. The first step is to decide where they should go, and I’m pretty confident I know now where to start digging… There’s a strip of clear land running east-west on the south side of The Old Man. That’s my squash, corn, tomato, pumpkin patch right there! But digging it wasn’t this week’s task…

That tyre was waiting for me, oh yeah, and I decided to finish that job first while I still had strength and enthusiasm. It took about an hour to saw out the second side wall. When I lifted the thing up, releasing clouds of nasty yellow-orange rusty dust, the metal inner ring fell away, and I had my first raised bed frame.

a frame for a bed of herbs

It needs rinsing out, as you can see, but we had such a heavy thunderstorm yesterday that I think nature has probably done that job for me! So, one down, two to go… These beds are going to contain my herb garden, and I’ve been browsing some lovely organic seed catalogues for ideas: Seeds of Change, and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

Southern Exposure are based in Virginia, only a little north of my land, so I’m thinking I might go with them, but Seeds of Change is full of useful and interesting information about the plants. Loving reading both these catalogues! And they are usefully breaking apart all my English expectations of what a garden should contain, vegetable or otherwise. I have learnt the hard way that I can’t really grow sweet peas here (sob, my favourite English summer flower), but I can grow peanuts, cotton, amazingly-coloured corn… This is not going to look like my grandad’s allotment!

This week has also seen me take steps on the one hand to encourage wildlife, on the other to keep it at bay. Yes, I did it. I’ve now bought all the components for a deer fence. After costing it all out, I realized I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay someone to do this for me. The raw ingredients alone, bought as cheaply as I could, totally maxed out my deer-defence budget. So, in a day or two’s time, several large, unwieldy packages will start to arrive… The neighbours have been warned! On the wildlife encouragement front, I’ve been struck the last few visits by how little birdsong I hear. It could be something to do with the presence of raptors overhead, but it could also be that there is nothing to attract them to my space. So I’ve installed a bird feeder and filled it full of songbird mix. Let’s see who comes…

the new bird feeder awaiting songbirds...


The yellowish-green strip of land running in from the left is part of the area that will contain my veggie beds.



Preparing my first raised herb bed involved a bit more land clearing too… (I took a soil sample, and tested it later: not very fertile, unfortunately, so it will certainly be raised beds and bought-in topsoil for now). Once I’d finished all of that I was ready to take a break, and walk the woodland. I can’t believe I hadn’t done this before now, but there is something mesmerizing about the homestead area, and, let’s face it, the homestead area needs a lot more work on it right now – probably more than the woodland ever will.

small woodland pool

Several creeks run through my property. Most will run dry in the summer months, to judge from what I saw last September, but this beautiful little pool should be there all year round. It’s embraced by the roots of an old tree, and a mini waterfall feeds it from the creek above. The water isn’t clear, as you can see, so one project will be to assess what is happening here, and clean up as appropriate. Lots of fallen leaves building up in there, but notice the ferns! These are present all along the banking here, which is quite steep in places. Another project suggested itself to me as I fought my way through brambles and small saplings from the homestead site down to the creek: creating a trail to make access easier.

Finally, an update on the daffodils – all with pretty golden heads turned south. Happy St. David’s Day!

daffodils opening to the sun

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