Uphilldowndale

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


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Tale of Two Trees

A couple of years ago I purchased two Victoria Plum trees,  it was purchase made of nostalgia, Mum always used to buy me a bag of plums on our holidays each year, in my memory they were delicious, over the years I have deduced that they must have been Victoria plums, however these days they don’t seem very easy to find in the shops.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with two trees of plums, Mr Uphilldowndale doesn’t like them, it will be the mad apple lady all over again.

However as time passes I’m not convinced the two trees are siblings. Have I been sold a pup, or is one a late developer? They are growing a few yards from each other, same amount of light etc.

Exhibit one

Victoria left_

Exhibit one, buds

Victoria left bud 2

Exhibit two

Victoria right

Victoria right blossom_

As a foot note, its true what they say, when you plant a tree you always wish you’d done it five years earlier…

 

 

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National Memorial Arboretum

I’m not sure how we didn’t really know anything about the National Memorial Arboretum , other than we’ve often passed the direction signs to it on the A38, and said to ourselves ‘we’ll call in there one day.’

It was much busier and bigger than I’d imagined, its 150 acres and over 300 memorials.  We didn’t mange to see everything we’d planned to before the winter light faded, we will return another day.

This memorial was one of many that stopped us in our tracks.

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the plaque says it all.

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nma sapper support hand full shot

It was seeing the maquette, for the next memorial, when we visited the Flanders Museum in Belgium earlier this year, that was the driver for me to find out more about the arboretum.

This is the memorial to the soldiers who were shot at dawn, during the First World War

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Commemorates: 309 British and Commonwealth soldiers who were shot for desertion or cowardice during World War I.  Most  were sentenced after a short trial at which no real opportunity for defence was allowed. Today it’s  recognised that many of them were underage and suffering from shell-shock. Andy Decomyn’s statue is modelled on Private Herbert Burden, of the 1st Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, who was shot at Ypres in 1915 aged 17. In 2006 a posthumous pardon was granted.

Each post bears the name of those who were executed, so many of them were so young, just children.  As the women stood next to me said, ‘it’s chilling’.

shot at dawn memorial

 


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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.

Apples 2 1 (2)

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