Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


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Apple Tart

We know when it is truly Autumn, its when Spud the dog’s ratio of tennis balls to windfall apples, that he leaves lying around the house is 2:1 in favour of apples.

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They are something of a health hazard, one of these days, it will the incident with the toy fire engine all over again, which  as I painfully remember resulted in a very bruised coccyx, rather than a cox

I’ve turned into a something of a mad apple lady, we have so many, the branches are straining under the weight of them and we’ve four trees.

I don’t seem to be able to make any inroads into them at all.  I’ve become obsessed, everywhere I go I have a  basket or box of apples with me. Please take my lovely apples  friends, colleagues neighbours, the ladies at exercise class,  no one can say no. (I could try standing on street corners I suppose, a bit like  like the man with the yards of lettuce).

Apples basket

Mind you, picking them is not without its hazards (Spud has to stay indoors, he runs off with them, and no one seems to keen on apples with canine teeth marks) On trying to reach the biggest and rosiest apples, for my friend Mrs McN,  the ones right from the top of the tree, one hit me in the face, I’ve an apple green bruise on my cheek… it’s ripening nicely

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The Berry Report

I was concerned in the heat of the summer that there would be a shortage of berries for the birds this winter, great swathes of the best blackberry banks had withered and died,

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The winberries, had the very life blood sucked out of them by a young oak.

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And of course my beloved pink rowan, had failed to flower, oh how I will miss it this winter, the birds will probably be more adaptive about it than me.

But things have rallied, acorns are abundant, I thought I’d be seeing the jays with their stitching flight, working across the field to their favourite oaks, but I’ve not seen one, I think they have found one tree and scoffed themselves silly, until they are unable to move

The red rowans are heaving with berries, well they were, the chickens have made inroads into them, further than you’d expect of a chicken.

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They seemed to be having training seminars on how to get to the best position,

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I wouldn’t mind but I’d put the wire cloches there to stop them digging up my plants

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The same flourish can not be said of the grass. Farmers are still very short of feed for the winter.

 


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Growing on Trees

 

There are some beautiful trees at Westbury Court Gardens,  this is star of the show

Westbury Court M'toe 3 uhdd-1A 300 year old oakWestbury Court  oak uhdd-1.jpgIt has some cohabitees, I don’t know what species of fungus is, the bees seemed quite interested in it, the beads of liquorice black, looks like the patina of Jacobean furniture, you normally see inside National Trust properties; whilst the tree is old, I don’t think the fungus is  Westbury Court  Fungi  3 uhdd-1.jpgThere were fungi that had a much fresher look,  this fabulous,  mustard yellow specimen for example, it looks smooth, not unlike like deer antler velvet (oh here I go off on a blogging tangent, who ever knew deer antler velvet was harvested for medicinal use! Not me until I just googled deer velvet to make sure I was using the correct term…)

Westbury Court  Fungi uhdd-1.jpgI think this was a species of ash tree,  I was more concerned in avoiding the bees nest we were warned that was lurking under the bark, or at least making sure Mr Uhdd, kept out of their way,  (they don’t get on very well) Westbury Court  Fungi  2 uhdd-1.jpgThere was a lovely cluster of the  semi parasitic plant mistletoe it doesn’t grow in ‘up north’ so I was interested to get a close look,  I don’t usaly get a look any closer that spotting its globe like form in the bare winter trees as we whizz down the M50Westbury Court M'toe 2 uhdd-1I think the host tree was a species of hawthorn,  I being botanically lax in this post aren’t I?Westbury Court  M'toe  4uhdd-1.jpgWhat I do know is what grows on trees, falls off, naturally. Falling conker


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Sweet Scented Shady Lanes

A delightful place to be on a hot day, the deeper the lane the better.

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Whilst many plants suffered during the ‘Beast from the East’ some seem to have had a bit of a boost, rhubarb for example, every one seems to have so much they are making rhubarb gin, or maybe it is that  rhubarb crumble has fallen out of favour.

The honeysuckle is divine this year, especially  first thing in the morning, so sweetly scented.  However, my precious pink rowan, has not a flower on it, and its usually smothered at this time of year, we came home from Ireland, to find small withered stick and buds scattered along the path, presumably what should have bourne this years flowers and berries, oh my how we will miss the berries


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Eleven years on

Apparently today is my blogs 11th birthday.

Trees have been a constant blog companion over the years, so my blog buddies, what is this? We saw it at Burghley we thought it might be an ash, from the leaf shape

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and the  purple-black buds, what do you think?

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But Ash can be complicated, one of those things I only found out whilst writing a blog post. That’s the kind on thing that captures my curiosity and has kept me blogging along for eleven years, what makes blogging a feast and social media a snack.

The flowers appear on the tree before the new leaves in spring. They are small and dark purple in colour, occurring in dense clusters, with the female flowers being slightly longer than the males. Unusually, ash can be either monoecious (meaning that both sexes occur on an individual tree) or dioecious, where any one tree has either all male or all female flowers. Some trees also alternate their flowering, bearing only male flowers in one year and females the next.

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It was in the sculpture garden, we had a nice time there, and it did get a little silly from time to time, its what happens when you get a group of mates together who have know each others since they were in the Scouts together, they still think they are sixteen, not sixty; brilliant.

I liked the cattle sculpture

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And the detail of some more abstract works.

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Then there was the floating swans, that drifted around on the breeze. I’m sure the central hub of this installation was supposed to be more low key than it appeared. A pair of coots, had made it their home, they were very house proud.

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we were impressed by the male who was bringing his best sticks to be added to the nest, expertly ducking between the rotating swans,

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it must be a risky job on a windy day, like crossing the M25 at rush hour!

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Barking up the wrong tree

There has been an explosion of leaf growth. Spring seemed so long in coming this year, well the handbrake is now off. The trees have a fine new suit to wear and they look splendid.

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You might remember me waxing lyrically about the roe deer that had been in the field? And how I came up close to it in the village? Well it has lost its Bambi status.  look what it did to my silver birch sapling, a silver wedding present…

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If we were regularly visited by rabbits and deer, I suppose we’d use tree guards, but I’m on a bit of a rant about these plastic wrappers at the moment. I saw so many when we were down at Rutland Water, on the nature reserve for heavens sake, that had become embedded within the trees. Tree guard 4.jpg

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here is the archaeology of the future.

At least there are alternatives

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The sooner we crack on with using them the better.

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