Sat 25th and Sun 26th August
Volunteer for a weekend of hand scything and stacking at Lawson Park's exceptional upland hay meadows in the Lake District, Cumbria. The meadows are a local bio diversity priority having a wide range of wild flowers, grasses and butterflies.
3 hearty meals and overnight camping offered.
Call 015394 41050 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to volunteer.
The bounty of summer, these chantrelles are the big heavy kind particularly plentiful this year, who knows why?
The bees swarmed for the second time this week, luckily they settled on this post making it easy to catch and re hive them.
Like all DIY, a good hedge is all in the preparation.
In the dead of winter, January 2005, Adam dug a magnificent trench snaking across a hilly area to the east of Lawson Park's farmhouse, backfilling it with well rotted manure and breaking up the soil. It was about 2 feet deep, no mean feat in the this area of no topsoil. We planted, we mulched, we clipped (a lot, new hedges need almost brutal clipping in the first few years if you want a good, solid shape).
Now, just three years later we have this - 2 metre high in places - to look upon: we call it the Red Hedge because into the native mix of guelder rose, hazel, holly, blackthorn etc there are a few roses for summer colour and autumn hips - here is pictured my favourite in the foreground - Rosa moyesii geranium - the picture doesnt do its warm cerise blooms justice - it always reminds me of my friend Nina who loves this colour so much she's getting married in it this summer.
A couple of weeks ago I walked up to Ruskin's Seat on the neighbouring Brantwood Estate at 9pm at night and cast a really analytical eye on the landscape. I have some new garden areas to plant up soon, and they are in what I term the Woodland Garden, so I am keen to keep it low-key and inspired by the surrounding landscape. The evening light was exquisite, the grasses and bilberries and mosses all distinct in shape still but woven into a dense low canopy. Each plant colony had a dense hub and then a broad, spreading mass of smaller satellite groups. The pale grass stems were highlighted against the dark moss, and the blueberry hummocks almost share the formality of box at this time of the year. The only colour was the beginnings of the bell heather in sparse rocky places. The few trees / shrubs - junipers and hollies up here are wizened and sculpted, multi-stemmed specimens.
Look and learn, I thought.
Google earth, eat your heart out!
This aerial photo of the farm and garden shows the formal Kitchen Garden to the far west (the ubiquitous mountain bikers can be spotted on the turning circle), ornamental gardens towards the house, and to the south the extensive wildflower meadow.
Mowing the pathways in the wild-flower meadow last week, I plugged in my iPod to drown out the racket of the petrol-driven mower. During the majestic throes of 'Shot from both sides' by Magazine I began to get into my stride, when the mower halter violently. I bent down to unclog the blades and yanked out a handful of damp grass only to find a revoltingly dismembered - but still alive - toad.
Suggestions for other sounds to mow to?