Thursday, 24 March 2011

Jones's Mill, Wiltshire

Events after last weekend stopped me writing about my first visit to a wildlife reserve near Pewsey in Wiltshire. Wiltshire is still a new county for me to explore and so after 5 and a half hours pruning a gargantuan rose pergola for one of Julie's clients on the Wiltshire / Berkshire border, on Saturday evening I needed a bit of relaxation and to stretch the legs after all that time standing up on a ladder.

I also fancied a cider. So as the nearest shop to us is the co-op, 7 miles away in Pewsey, the town which gives its name to the Pewsey Downs, off I pootled in the old Suzuki. To get to the co-op I have to pass Jones's Mill, one of Wiltshire Wildlife Trusts reserves. I'd not been before and although the sun was setting, it seemed as good a place as any to walk the legs back into action.

Interestingly no one really knows why it has this name (I read the notice board). But back in the 1500's there was a mention of a house by the River Avon, but since then this has been agricultural land. This reserve wasn't at its best in mid March as it is being managed for flora and invertebrates, with many areas being grazed by Galloway cows.

I did though see a couple of early marsh marigolds in flower

and the alder carr and oak woodland is covered in lichens, such as this Evernia prunastri

Anyway it was a very pleasant half an hour stroll by the River Avon, a few birds about, a green woodpecker and a wonderfully clear song thrush singing it's double phrases into the dusk, but not much else. I'll leave it a few months and return in May or June to see how it has changed. I enjoyed the cider later as well.

On Sunday we were doing some more gardening for Julie, this time for a wonderful old lady near Wooton Bassett who has basically a field to cut every 2 weeks

But in a corner of the field is an ancient plum tree, which had just come into blossom. The whole tree was buzzing with solitary bees visiting the flowers. A wonderful reminder that even after a worst winter for 100 years, insects and invertebrates just emerge as normal and begin their life cycle once again. Sadly my rushed photos of the bees were all blurred.

However one person who is not emerging yet is Molly. As she seems to be developing a bit of a fan club on this blog, here's another picture of what Molly does best. Basically hogging the radiator (it is on by the way) and not moving too far, maybe as far as her food and back again but that's all. Warmer temperatures will need to be in the offing before she goes very far.


  1. Molly looks cozy on the radiator; I don't blame her for staying put.

  2. Jones Mill sounds a good place to visit, as you say in a month or two. You mentioned the Green Woodpecker, I always feel their yaffle sound is like they are laughing at me and taunting me because they can see me but I haven't seen them!

  3. Indeed you're right Wilma. Cat's now how to keep comfortable

    That's a great analogy Goosey, they do have the most remarkable yaffle, quite strange looking birds too close up. If you visit let me know, would be good to meet after all these years

  4. Interesting walk Jones mill sounds facinating, With regard to gardening jobs I recall an old Gardeners World, where Chris Beardshaw visited the royal rose trust (bit foggy on which rose trust) They did a trial on rose punning, one rose bed (of mixed variety) was just hacked back with sheers (just like hedging) the other was carefully pruned with secataires, slopeing cut above ouward bud classic, anyhow the upshot was, upon return in the summer the hacked roses where seriously ouperforming the others in foliage and blooms...go figure, but I say it's a good case for a quick job, feetup and more Cider :)

  5. Hi James, yes that is a technique I know of, they do it at Alnwick Gardens in Northumberland. Unfortunately the groundsman at this garden had tried the same over the last 5 years, but not removed the dead twigs. So not only pruning was needed but 5 years of rose "thatch" to remove. Hedge trimmers are great in a rose garden but not on a pergola. I'm with you though with the cider.

  6. Molly has the right idea. Stay warm until it feels right. We haven't had to mow yet this year. It will have to warm up to get the grass to grow enough to mow.