Sunday, 7 July 2013

Big Mistake

I did a really annoying thing.  I came home from a tiring day with my mother and decided to quickly do a blog post. After two hours of searching out photos and thinking what to say, to cut a long story short, I inadvertently wiped it all off unsaved!!  My husband asked how I managed to stay so calm and good humoured about it (I had laughed at my stupidity). "It's a good excuse for comfort food and drink," I replied...I am now rewriting the post under the influence of a big chunk of cheese and a large glass of spiced rum!!:))

Now how had I started?  I think I was bemoaning the fact that there weren't many bees and butterflies around my garden this year.  Infact the only insect I found on my walk around the garden this morning was a fly on an ox-eye daisy...

I decided to visit the Saltbox SSSI which usually has lots of butterflies and lots of lovely chalk grassland flowers.  It was rather depressing as there were very few butterflies.  It hadn't been grazed for a while and was quite overgrown but there were a nice lot of Pyramid and Common Spotted Orchids although I only counted three Bee Orchids and two Man Orchids which was disappointing after last year when the count for both were in double figures.  I did find a white orchid which, after some deliberation, I think must be an albino common spotted although there were no spots on the leaves...let me know if you think otherwise (sorry it is not a very clear photo)...

It is interesting that it was in the same area that white Marjoram and white Scabious grows..

One wonders why they are in the same area and if there is something making them white or is it just coincidence.  It makes me think about some fairly recent research about the soil fungus, Mycorrhizal.  We have known for a long about time the nutritional symbiotic relationship plants have with Mycorrhizae, especially in orchids but this research showed something more.  Two groups of five broad bean plants were grown.  The first group were allowed to develop a Mycorrhizal network but the second group weren't. One plant from each group was then made to be infested by aphids causing both to produce a chemical defence. All the plants had been individually covered so there could be no air transmittion.  However the remaining plants in the first group (with the Mycorrizal network) all produced a chemical defence even though they had had no actual contact with aphids.  Where as the remaining plants in the second group (without the network) didn't show any chemical reaction.  This indicated that the plants were able to communicate their distress via the Mycorrizal network causing the other plants to protect themselves. Wow!!  I wonder what else fungi do that is yet to be discovered.

Anyway back to the Orchids at Saltbox.  While I was there I came across the tallest Common Spotted that I have ever seen.  I estimated it to be about 29" from the ground to flowering tip!!

A couple of weeks previously I had also found the longest slow worm I have ever seen at about 20".  It was wriggling up and down the garden path being chased by another slow worm about a quarter of its size.  Every time the short one caught up with the long one it bit it and held on but the long one was having none of it.  I am guessing it was a mating ritual and I would have loved to have recorded it but we were loading our car up for our camping holiday at the time and were already being slowed down by having to avoid treading on the amourous couple.  I did take a photo of the monster though...

We had a good holiday in West Dorset although it was a little wet and chilly and tiring as at night we were kept awake by a family of noisy Little Owls.  It was actually very entertaining especially when one of the two babies was so close to the tent we could hear it being fed and flapping its little wings...Ahhh :)

Some more 'Ahhh' moments were had at the Abbotsbury Swannery where there were cygnets everywhere..

And at a water garden where there were a series of beautifully landscaped ponds and lakes all covered with different varieties of Water Lillies and some rather attractive ducks...

There was also a Monet type bridge and my husband and I spent a few silly but very funny minutes trying to beat the self timer on the camera so we could get a photo together(this picture is zoomed was a lot further than it looks).  Luckily there was no one else around to see our rather childish behavior:))

We found a nice bit of deserted beach accessed through beautiful National Trust flower meadows down to a reed bed in which we could hear, what I think, were Water Rail; then over on to some shingle covered in Thrift, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Yellow Poppies and Sea Kale and then on to the sea.  It was strange laying on a beach hearing the waves break whilst also listening to Skylarks..

And of course I couldn't pass my beloved New Forest on the way home without stopping for a while...

Once back home it was straight back to work with the Dowlands Project giving the ponies their worming medicine.  This is an enjoyable job as it is the only time we get to feed them.  There is more than enough for them to eat in the fields but they need a little extra in the form of pony nuts to help sweeten the taste of the wormer which has to be given over five days.  Next was catching the ewes and lambs to collect faecal samples for a worm egg count and then a week later catching them up again to treat them.  It was good to see how well the lambs were growing but at there young age they have little resistance to parasites so can easily succumb...

The next few weeks will be hard for me as completion on the sale of my mother's bungalow is set for 26th July so the place now has to be emptied.  Besides there being a lot of work, it is also hard emotionally as I can't help feeling a bit of a traitor selling her home and belongings  while she's somewhere she doesn't want to be but I can't see any alternative as her Alzheimer's it too bad for her to live on her own.  The trouble is she doesn't remember she has Alzheimer's so doesn't think there is anything wrong with her:)  At least the sun has started shining at last which always makes my mother more cheerful.  This was one of her favourite poems...

Summer Sun
Robert Louis Stevenson

Great is the sun, and wide he goes
Through empty heaven without repose;
And in the blue and glowing days
More thick than rain he showers his rays.

Though closer still the blinds we pull
To keep the shady parlour cool,
Yet he will find a chink or two
To slip his golden fingers through.

The dusty attic, spider clad,
He, through the keyhole, maketh glad;
And through the broken edge of tiles
Into the laddered hay-loft smiles.

Meantime his golden face around
He bares to all the garden ground,
And sheds a warm and glittering look
Among the ivy's inmost nook.

Above the hills, along the blue,
Round the bright air with footing true,
To please the child, to paint the rose,
The gardener of the World, he goes.