Sunday, 20 April 2008

Gardening, Lunch and Stripes

Having watched a female Sparrowhawk last night using the garden fence as a hunting perch, I thought, it's about time I got some veg into the garden. Strange segway I know.

So Sunday morning saw me out with the larks to sort out the top raised bed. Yesterday we bought a few seed potatoes for a future supper. I'm not trying to take over the Golden Wonder crisp empire, just a few home grown spuds. Nothing better than potatoes out the ground and eaten in half an hour. Remiss of me, I've completely forgotten the varieties, but think 3 Pentland Javelin and 6 Arran Pilot.

First of all, a bit of TLC was required for the raised bed. With this cold spring I've not really been in the mood to sort it out. And the soil has been far too cold anyway to sow anything (it's heavy/firm clay over chalk... nice!!). Moving in last year, we inherited an uncared for square of grass, so I spent most of the year getting it some shape. This year will hopefully be less back breaking. I may even be able to sit on the seat at some point???

Anyway a bit of hard graft and a bit of luck.....

..... got the bed in order, the potatoes planted, a row of Carrots, a row of Beetroot, and the runner bean canes in-situ ready for the plants in a few weeks time. Phew, after all that work, what I need is a goodly luncheon at some Dorset Hostillity......

Which we just happened to find. Actually we'd booked a 12.15 appointment with the Carvery. Her indoors had been there last Sunday with a girlfriend, so this time it was my turn. Plumping for turkey over venison, pork, beef or lamb, the boy Reiver was filled to bursting. It was fabulous. If any of you are down Dorset way, Sunday Carvery at the Green Man, King Stag, is recommended.

But surely we should walk some of this off? So as Bulbarrow Hill is a gnats crotchet away, off we toddled. Mindfull too that this is a wildlife blog, here's some wildlife. Bulbarrow is glorious for raptors and today it didn't fail to please. 7 Buzzards circled and power dived over escarpment. Tried to take a photo, but came out as 7 pin head dots. Also a Kestrel and later on a Peregrine. While watching the Buzzards, the welcome cronk cronk alerted me to a Raven. Buzzard and Raven took part in a bit of aerial argy bargy, which gave me ample time to see these two birds are really the same size. Not much in it. It was a draw by the looks of it.

On the passerine front, loads of Chiffchaff, few Willow Warblers, 2 Green Woodpecker, smattering of Swallows and House Martins, plus the usual suspects up there. I thought I heard a Whitethroat, but couldn't find it, so that doesn't count.

This looked great in real life, but the bluebells in this mixed wood haven't really shown up well. Bulbarrow is an odd place as it is part of the Chalk escarpment, surrounded by Sandstone vales, and covered in a variety of soils, so a mad mix of acidic and calcareous habitats merge into one. Such as where these bluebells are, across the road nothing but gorse. And then just along the road one comes across wild violets.

Dorset generally is fabulous for insects, and today I took this, a very common "micro" bee which I think is Lasioglossum calcaetum on a dandelion. But below is a caterpillar I can't identify. Someone will no doubt get back to me and say this is a common species, but as my insect key is up in the other house, I'm a bit stumped. Any suggestions welcome.

And finally, in Dorset this month's must have for the peasant farmer is stripy fields. This is a field near Bulbarrow, and I have to admit as a bit of a stickler with stripes, this effort is a bobby dazzler in terms of technique. I never managed anything as good as this during my brief foray into agriculture. I once produced an effect similar to this by incorrectly setting the fertiliser guage and spinner. For weeks afterwards farmers came from across the whole of Northumberland to stare and point in absolute amazement at how such an effect could be achieved in such a spectacular way.

Not wishing to be outdone, came home and cut the grass. And a conundrum. I could cut grass all day, in fact when I retire my perfect voluntary job would be cutting grass in a churchyard, wildlife, gardening, and locate a nice sunny area for the future of course. But here's my thought. Lawn has daisies, I like daisies, but obviously cutting the grass means the daises are removed. Question to the gardening floor then..... in the photograph below what do you prefer? cut stripes? or slightly messy but colourful daisies?


  1. Slightly messy but colourful Daisies is my choice. Your garden is looking good, as is your raised bed. That's what I'm at these days, making a raised bed for salad veggies. As for hoping the back breaking work will be over for you this year...it never ends, lol.

  2. A good choice Oldcrow. And yes, I think you're right about the never ending backbreaking work!!

  3. I would say the caterpillar is either a White or Buff Ermine.

    PS - i put some Arran Pilot in last month. They`ve just started to poke through. A bit more warm weather and they`ll be well away.

  4. Cheers Dean, I knew someone would point me in the right direction. Good luck with the spuds, driving down tonight it's finally warmed up, almost like summer - no sign of the Ospreys at Chew Valley Lake though sadly.