Sofa reading, April 2017

Liz…When Mike mentioned watching hawks in a recent post it reminded me of the highly acclaimed  H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald that I read last year.

It is an award winning memoir written when, after the sudden death of her father to whom she was particularly close, she attempts to assuage her grief by acquiring, then training, a young goshawk.

They are apparently the most difficult of hawks to handle. MacDonald, a a naturalist and historian, describes in spare clear prose her sorrow, challenge and frustration in raising Mabel the goshawk.

She has a close affinity to, and appreciation for, T H White, most famous as author of The Once and Future King, from whom she had learned so much in his book The Goshawk.


Mike…I’ve not read Liz’s choice but it is on my to read list.  My book was prompted by hers and is about a rather different bird.

Sold for a Farthing by Claire Kipps is a small, 72 page hardback published in 1954 and tells the tale of a poorly infant sparrow found on the author’s doorstep in July 1940. She nursed it back to health and it then shared her home until it’s death from old age in March 1952.  It couldn’t be released back into the wild as it had a deformed right wing and faulty left foot.

The poet Walter de la Mare called this book a little gem, and it’s certainly one of my favourites.

I found this excellent review which is well reading.


Happy reading, and have a good weekend!

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Talking of foxes

The temperature dipped to around zero for a while early this morning so I was thankful to see that there hadn’t been a frost and all was okay when I looked round.

Afterwards I’d started doing some plotting when something over my left shoulder caught my eye. When I looked round I found that it was a fox drinking from the the washing-up bowl pond by the log pile.



When it had finished it then came closer and went onto the potato patch.


It was only about ten feet away and stood there looking around and at me before it turned, went across where I’ll be growing the climbing beans and headed off the plot.

This is the dark one we’ve been seeing recently, but now has a mostly light-grey coat and looks in fairly good condition.


I was delighted to see this wonderful animal close-up and take a few photos.


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Vegetables and a new book

Last week I was given some onion seedlings which I planted out on Tuesday. Some are the variety Ailsa Craig which are large globe-shaped with a good flavour, excellent for exhibiting but not a good keeper.  The others are Bedfordshire Champion which is a popular variety and a good keeper, but susceptible to downy mildew.  It’ll be interesting to see how they compare with the Sturon sets that I’d already planted.

The first early potatoes Pentland Javelin (middle row) and most of the second early Charlottes (right-hand row) have now started showing foliage so I earthed them up this morning.

The temperature looks like dropping close or to zero a couple of mornings during the coming week.  I hope it doesn’t as the first early Red Duke York (left-hand row) foliage is now too tall to earth-up again and I don’t want them to get frosted.



The second lot of broad beans Crimson Flowered have appeared just over two weeks after I sowed them.  The first lot are growing very slowly, and all have notched leaves which is a tell-tale sign of bean weevils. Hoeing round the plants is supposed to prevent this but I’ve been doing that regularly to no avail.

At home I’ve sown the sweet corn Golden Bantam seeds in pots to start off on the windowsill. I’ve not done this before having always sown direct around the end of May.

As usual at Christmas I was given a book token which I generally use to buy a non-fiction book, which I did last weekend when I bought The Living Jigsaw by Val Bourne. Since then I’ve been enjoying browsing through it and will do a review once I’ve read it properly.


Have a good week!

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Sowing flower seeds…

around the plot is what I’ve mostly been doing this week.  I’ve sowed cornflowers, cosmos, nasturtiums, sunflowers and viscaria.   This is the flower patch which as you can see already has lots self-seeded Flighty’s favourites pot marigolds growing so I’ve been sowing round the edges and elsewhere.

I’ll go into more detail about the varieties/colours and where they are once I’ve sown everything, and it’s all hopefully appeared.

I’ve seen a fox most days over the past week or so, and it’s also evident that they’ve been on the plot what with paw prints, some disturbed ground and two dead rats.  Last week I watched one prowling and pouncing about in the long grass by the site fence adjacent to the gates. This morning this one was over by the trees along the northern edge of the site.

I think that there are at least two different ones judging by their colouring.  This one is very pale and there’s another that is noticeably dark.


Have a good weekend!

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Last and first

It’s nice to see that the last few daffodils are still flowering over the Easter weekend.  These traditional ones are a mix of single, double and triple flowers on one stem as can seen in this picture.

I’ve been mostly pottering rather than plotting the past couple of days, and whilst doing so I was surprised to see the first strawberry flowers already appearing.  I hope it’s an indication that it will be a good year for them.


Enjoy the rest of the long weekend, and have a good week!


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Have a good Easter weekend!

Although it was gloriously sunny and warm last weekend I didn’t spend much time on the plot. As usual I spent less than a couple of hours there on Saturday morning and on Sunday morning just had a look round before going over to the horticultural society trading shed where I was on duty.  Another reason that I don’t spend much time there at weekends this time of year is because I find the noise of other plot-holders mowing, rotovating and/or strimming a bit irritating.

It’s remained dry and mostly sunny but somewhat cooler since then which I don’t mind, and it’s been nice and quiet! I’ve got lots done, including cutting the grass paths which is a job that’s always at the bottom of the list.

Sadly most of the yellow, and bi-coloured, daffodils have now finished flowering and been deadheaded, as have the tulips.  However the white Thalia are still looking lovely.

Have a good Easter weekend!

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Tree following, April 2017

Liz’s Tulip poplar…Following on from my February post I’m happy to say that my tree has not only survived the winter here in Lexington, Kentucky but is now setting buds and beginning to leaf out.


I read that these Tulip poplars can grow as much as three feet a year, and we’ll see if this one does.  It may also take ten to fifteen years for a young tree to start blooming, so clearly patience is the watchword.

My usual thanks to Mike for kindly letting me guest post.


Flighty’s Dogwood (Cornus)…Despite my looking at this tree every time I arrive at the plot it always surprises me at just how quickly it starts to leaf up at this time of year.

A closer look reveals numerous still green flower buds nestling in the leaves.

I must remember to look at these regularly to see how they grow and change into white flowers over the coming weeks.

Our thanks to Pat, The Squirrelbasket,  for hosting Tree following.

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