Saturday, May 25, 2013

Safely back, after a good week. It felt precarious, but all went well. How many more?

This for Hat, the Babington leeks in the vegetable cage, along with some parsley I bought on the way up:

It’s been a dry spring. I think Strathardle has missed out on rain elsewhere – James calls it the “Strathardle mini-climate”. The clematis montana on the front of the house, eight or nine years old, one of our most successful plantings, appears to be dead. The metasequoia glyptostroboides has taken a bad hit, and lost maybe half of its height. Both were fine, a month ago.

The metasequoia is one of those stories – I must have told it here before – of something identified in a fossil (by a Japanese scientist during the war, I think). Then after the war when knowledge began to circulate again, the Chinese said, Oh, yes, we’ve got that. It was imported to Europe where it grows vigorously. There’s one at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. It’s called the Dawn Redwood, more colloquially. We planted ours for James and Cathy when they married.

And it has struggled. It is a water-loving tree (you’d think it would be fine, in Strathardle) and we made the mistake of planting it on a slope. The soil is essentially sandy. I have nursed it through a Sicilian summer – they do happen – hauling water up from the burn . But I thought the danger was past, and the roots now deep enough to withstand a spring drought.

I got the tatties planted. I won’t be doing much with vegetables this year, what with old age and deer, but they will give an impression of order to the patch, and be delicious to eat. One can see how the Irish got hooked on them.

I saw a pair of deer on the lawn one morning, nibbling the bluebells. Mercifully, they don’t seem to like daffodils. They lept nimbly over the dyke into the neighbour’s garden.

And that reminds me of a rant. In the film “The Queen” – how on earth did I see it? – the Duke of Edinburgh is represented as telling his wife that he had seen a stag – later of iconic significance – and that it ran off “towards the neighbours”, or something like that.

That’s not how country people talk, and I don’t believe the royal family are any different. Places are referred to by words which can be found on a map – “It ran towards Pitmarmick”. Or in a private family language – “It went off down the commonty”, “It ran across the stubble field”. Or by the names of the neighbours: “It went into Douglas’s bit”, “It was in the Nicholsons’ field”.

In this case, the deer were in Douglas’s bit, and that’s how I reported them to my husband.

The youth who came to give the grass its first cut – it is actually growing – found the foot and lower leg of a lamb on the west lawn. I told him about the leg-of-deer we found in April. A fox, I thought. Something Larger, in his opinion.


  1. I'm glad the Babbington leeks have survived their long journey. If they take off you'll never be without. Together with parsley and potatoes you'll have the basis of a tasty soup!

    We don't have deer here but have a lot of badger damage at the moment. Big holes everywhere.

    Good to see you safely back.

  2. Something larger, Jean? What could that be? Is Strathardle one of the locations where wolves were reintroduced? Or am I imagining that?

  3. I hope you don't mind another unknown follower invading your blog life with a comment. Your post often brings a smile to my face but today it was a big smile when I read the words "metasequoia glyptostroboides ". Many many years ago I was a horticulture student at our community college and Ornamental Tree and Shrubs was a required course. Metasequoia glyptostroboides was one of my favourites not only as a tree but the name too as I loved the way it just rolls off the tongue. There is a beautiful specimen in the gardens where I work (Vineland, Ontario, Canada)that must be in the range of 50-70 years old. It's still my favourite.

  4. Ruth in Elgin, Ontario2:20 PM

    Hi Jean, another Ontarian here. Daffodils are poisonous and all the critters seem to know that. We are having a very strange spring here; a week of dry heat followed by cool rain followed by humid heat followed by rain and wet snow flurries...all in May. The farmers are probably tearing their hair out. Glad to see you back!

  5. Anonymous4:18 PM

    re: daffodils - they are wonderful here too, in the Sierra foothills of California, but we call tulips "gopher candy". Don't bother planting them - really!
    Have to agree on the "larger than a fox" thoughts... we found a deer leg up the hill from the house and concluded mountain lion, but what would it be in your area?
    Beverly near Yosemite CA

  6. SamKD5:58 PM

    Another vote for the indigenous Something Larger.

  7. Anonymous8:20 PM

    I wonder if Mrs. Obama ever finds leftover animal parts next to her garden on the west lawn.