Wednesday, 31 December 2008

The Chestnut Centre

Helen and Ian are staying at The Willows with us at the moment and on Tuesday Ian drove us down to Derbyshire where we met up with Bryony and Mark at the Chestnut Centre.

Fallow Deer

Snowy Owl

Harvest Mouse

Giant Otter

I am only showing a few photos here but unlike Helen and Mark, who can content themselves with a couple of photos, I feel the need to show loads of photos so I've also added this webpage. There are lots of photos on it so it may not load very quickly.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

A walk in the sun

The holly next door in the Nursing Home grounds has plenty of berries. I’m always amazed they don’t get pinched for someone’s Christmas decorations!

Half a mile (perhaps less) from our house is a delightful little cul-de-sac – and unsurfaced lane with lovely views over to Barnston Dale.

The last couple of days have had a watery sun after a lot of rain.

The hips were in the hedgerow.

This Birch tree came down in the storm a couple of years back and is gently rotting in the field.

I love seeing pieces of farm equipment in a field. They show the field is still used, still alive....

Saturday, 13 December 2008


It doesn't matter what the weather is like there are always attractive lichens to be found on the tree trunks in Heswall.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Frost and fog

The weather has suddenly turned after weeks of drizzly unpleasantness to thick mist and frost. I just loved the way the frost and ice sat on the grasses and trees all day.

Friday, 14 November 2008


The weather really hasn’t been conducive to taking many photos so far this autumn. That’s my excuse for not posting on this blog for ages. However, it’s a pretty feeble excuse when you visit the BBC’s liverpool images site. How about this brilliant photo of Thurstaston from Patrick Dwyer, for example. I must get out more.

Friday, 31 October 2008

First frost

We had the first frost of the autumn overnight. Sorry there's no photo but it's cold out there, I'm only half awake and the windows are steamed up (we don't have double glazing). At least we were not buried under hail and water as poor Ottery St Mary was the night before.

Thursday, 30 October 2008


On the whole it's been a wet and windy and generally unpleasant month. So I shall content myself with showing a bit of the indoor plant life - one of my cacti in flower.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Birch Shieldbug

This is a Birch Shieldbug (Elasmostethus interstinctus). The adult is like a smaller version of the Hawthorn Shield Bug. It is found throughout the British Isles in mixed woodlands with Birch and it is generally common where it occurs. It hibernates as an adult and eggs are laid in May and June. The new generation becomes adult from August onwards. The egg is pointed and laid in batches of up to 24, usually on birches with catkins. Aspen and Hazel may also be used.

Because it hibernates it often comes into the house at this time of year. I had one arrive in Brackenside one October and this one came into The Willows today.

Perhaps rather cruel but I put this one on its back for a minute to show you the underside. It soon righted itself without my aid.

Pampas Grass

Although the geese did not presage the first frost a hailstorm followed the same day! The frost has yet to start. Unfortunately we had plenty of wind and the newly opened Pampas Grass is already leaning at a crazy angle. For some reason, our garden catches the very worst of the wind and the Pampas Grass does not last long before breaking, at which stage it gets brought indoors as a decoration.

I'm sure people get tired of seeing my Kaffir Lilies but I just love them. Unfortunately they cannot be seen from the house windows so I'm starting a second patch this year. This is the time of year when one doesn't get into the garden much so having some close to the windows will be a real bonus.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

2nd October 2008

I’ve just heard the geese go overhead in the rain. Their arrival around here usually presages the first frosts. Although that seems unlikely in the current wind and downpour it reminds me that I must bring any non-hardy plants indoors. We seem to have gone from summer to winter overnight – what happened to all the mists and mellow fruitfulness?

Sunday, 28 September 2008


I love Rudbeckia. They are one of four genera in the Asteraceae family that are known as coneflowers. The flowers are produced in daisy-like inflorescences, with yellow or orange florets arranged in a prominent, cone-shaped head; "cone-shaped" because the ray florets tend to point out and down (are decumbent) as the flower head opens. Rudbeckia species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Cabbage Moth and Dot Moth both of which have been found in my garden. I think this Rudbeckia is the species R. hirta also known as Black-eyed Susan.

Kaffir Lilies and what?

I do like Kaffir Lilies (Schizostylis coccinea). I got these from a charity stall at Royden Park a couple of years ago so I don’t know which particular cultivar they are.

I have a couple of clumps of this plant in my garden but I don’t know what it is! The plant is between two and three feet tall with toothed lanceolate leaves and masses of small, bell-like purple flowers. Any clues would be welcome.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Pond Three

Work in progress...

This last week having been warm and mostly sunny, I have done a great deal in the garden. Having been away a lot this year there was much tidying and pruning to do. I also tackled – for the third time – the relaying of pond number 3. It has never been as satisfactory as the other two, always seeming to fall well below the level of the edging. I took up the waterfall and discovered the reason – the edging had got bent over as I laid the waterfall last time and was leaking out underneath. This situation was exacerbated by evaporation when I ran the waterfall.

Job done....

In the process of draining the pond I had to ,move six fully grown frogs from it into Pond 2 and another one hopped off under the fence into next door. One of the frogs had been issuing its purring croak for some days before I tackled the pond and I was pleased to hear that it was back in the newly filled pond, purring away, at the end of the exercise. Previously I have only heard frogs calling in Spring. I wonder if calling in autumn is unusual?

Eupeodes luniger

This is the brightly coloured hoverfly Eupeodes luniger. Like nearly all hoverflies it has no common English name. I suspect that if Hoverflies were to be given them there would be a lot more interest in this group of colourful flies.

The Glistening Ink-cap

This toadstool was at the side of one of the paths by the pond the other day. It is Coprinus micaceus or the Glistening Ink-cap but because it is an older specimen it lacks the glistening sugary grains that cover its surface when young. Unusually, it was alone. Normally all Coprinus species can be found in clumps. Hopefully I will have a clump there in a year or two.

The mature, blackening caps of a number of Coprinus species were once boiled to make ink.


This ‘caterpillar’ had successfully defoliated two branches of my Super Star rose the other day. At first I thought it was a moth caterpillar but upon closer examination I decided it was a sawfly larva. But I cannot tell which one. The popular Rose-eating sawflies (Arge pagana, Arge rosae, and Arge ochropus) have larvae with black spots while one which has this colouring (Endelomyia aethiops) only grazes on the surface of the leaves and is slightly pear-shaped being thinner in the tail (known appropriately as the Rose Slug). So, all I can conclude is that this chap was a) a sawfly larva (probably) and b) unwelcome!

This is definitely a moth caterpillar! It will grow up to be a Bright-line Brown-eye Moth. I think it was feeding on the Viburnum which I was pruning when I found it swimming in the fish pond with some of the fallen leaves. It departed unharmed back into the shrubbery after I had photographed it.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Shaggy Bracket

I would like to keep this blog restricted to my Pensby garden but then where would I post pictures like this - a Shaggy Bracket (Inonotus hispidus) found on an Ash tree around the corner, near the library?

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Vicious beak!

Found the remains of a Wood Pigeon's egg.

This chap was on a nearby aerial, looking suspiciously like the culprit.

I've never seen a Carrion Crow wiht such a vicious beak before!

Friday, 19 September 2008

Yellow Buddleia

Apart from all my purple Buddleias I have a white cutting from Helen and at last my Yellow Buddleia cutting has flowered. This means I have all the forms of Buddleia that I've had in previous gardens. All the current ones are cutting from them - with the possible exception of the white one which may have scome from the caravan via Helen or may have originated in Formby.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Galerucella species

This is a Galerucella species of leaf beetle. There are six species of these leaf beetles in Britain – all similar. This leaf-eating species has devastated my Guelder Rose in the hedge – almost defoliating it in places.

Orange Ladybird

These are the larvae of the Orange Ladybird. The 22-spot Ladybird larva is similar but has no areas of white, larger black spots and shorter legs.

These are the pupae of the Orange Ladybird. Both larvae and pupae are to be found all over one of my Birch trees at the moment.


I’m not sure the garden knows what season it is at the moment. The Fuchsia which has been flowering since late spring is still going strong. The Cyclamen in the basket is also in full bloom.

Meanwhile the Cotoneaster is absolutely covered in berries and the poppies are in seed.