Monday, November 21, 2011

21st November already - honestly!

It's fascinating how escaped garden plants can make themselves so at home in the wild...  "honesty" is a good example.  During the summer the pretty pink flowers are commonly seen in woodland, especially if nearby cottages have the plant in their gardens.

... and then at this time of year the seed pods, looking like little oriental fans, stay quite whole for many months.  They are excellent as Christmas decorations if you have the patience to strip them of their outer membranes - and even if you don't you can take a short cut by spraying them with glitter or gold paint.  Oh, no!! I mentioned Christmas again!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

20th November - Berries!

They do say that if there is a fine crop of berries in the autumn it presages a cold winter to come ... and if the holly berries are following tradition we may be in for some really chilly days ahead.  Today I noticed that there is a fine, dense crop of berries in the wood, and also along the lanes, paths and hedgerows nearby.

At some point in the past a cultivated holly must have cross pollinated with a native bush to produce this "sport" with cream, variegated leaves.  They are so pretty!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

November 17th - Jack Frost's first visit!

There was just a suspicion of frost on the trees this morning ... enough to make you think that Jack had breathed on them for a moment before going on to more important things!  Sadly there are few elms around these days, but we are lucky to have one close by ... and in it some mistletoe!  The mistletoe is high up in its branches - safe from the most avid collector, and I am always amazed by how spherical the balls of this strange plant are ... like ethereal footballs suspended in some strange net!

Maybe Jack Frost is a football fan ...
The snowberries are becoming smaller and harder now, too - like little white footballs!  Earlier in the year some of them seem to "blow up", become soft, and are then tempting and eaten by birds ... others seem to "petrify" as the cold weather begins and remain on the plant until the birds are really desperate for food later in the winter.  Nature's cold-store.

Not appetising now, but wait until January!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

16th November - early morning ...

I was up very early this morning and so saw the dawn - there was a mist over the fields and then the sun came up, even this late in the year its heat burning off the mist very quickly.  Watching it evaporate was magic - the sun big and red ... I know, "red sky in the morning, shepherd's warning"... we'll have to see what weather follows!

I was not the only one up early!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

14th November - the less, the more ...

A very quick visit to the wood (I have to confess I was in the car, on the way elsewhere!) made me realise that sometimes, just an impression can speak volumes...  As a stitcher, a few strategically placed seed stitches can create the impression of a distant tree, a tiny landscape...

"Through the eye of a needle..."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

11th and 12th November - from sombre to bright ...

Remembrance Day was rather dismal and sombre weather-wise, drizzly and chilly, too.  When I got home I lit a great big open fire in the hearth of my cottage and said a big thank you - for life, liberty and a warm home!

Today, it is much brighter - though down in the wood you get the feeling that the small animals are beginning to pull down the shutters for the season!  The birds are busy feeding on berries - and there seem to be plenty about - whilst the cottage chickens seem to have abandoned the outskirts of the wood for the garden.

Some unusual visitors can pop in at this time of the year... the waxwing is a lovely bird and if often attracted by the ripening fruit of the wood's outer perimeter... looking closely at the rowan berries you can see hoe juicy they are ... I have a Rowan tree in my garden, too, and the blackbirds love it!

Invitation to lunch!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November 10th - after a moonlit night!

The sky was clear last night and the moonlight made for a chilly one!  I'm not sure it is one of those "predictors" of a cold winter to come, but I saw a stoat - in the summer a glorious chestnut brown with a black tip to his tail, in the winter snowy white in "ermine" - and his coat was already beginning to turn... does that mean cold weather soon, I wonder?

Starstruck stoat!
It's fascinating the was the tail tip always stays white, even when the rest of the fur is white.  Hence, of course, the heraldic colour "ermine": white with black swatches.  Celebrity status to say the least!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November 9th - Goodbye leaves!

In just a couple of days the landscape seems to have changed completely ... there is that certain something in the air that makes you want to wrap up warm and walk that little bit faster!  After the rain came more wind and even more of the leaves have fallen.  Then there was a moonlit night and for the first time this year the trees took on their winter persona!  My sycamore is still sporting a few bright yellow leaves, but some of the less sheltered specimens are rally beginning to look "witchy"!  The oaks aren't quite as bare as this, but it's coming!
Moonlight in the wood.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Remember, remember, 5th November!

I haven't made it down to the wood for a few days - during which the rain has brought down a lot more leaves.  Now the canopy is looking sparse and the rain is able to fall down into the leaf litter unimpeded!  This seems to be good news for insects and other small animals - which feed on them.  There are some very fine worms and snails about ...

... which seems to be good news for certain other inhabitants ...

... just in time for lunch!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

1st November ... and the rain has arrived!

Well, it had to come, the rain is finally here.  So far only a light shower, but I get the feeling that we are in for rather more.  On the canopy of the wood - still quite a few leaves in situ - it patters with a gentle, rhythmic sound ... peaceful and yet a little melancholy, it sounds like the end of the last remnants of summer!

"What's that?"
 The sound made one little fellow look up as though he thought manna was falling from heaven... and maybe it was... the nuts were beginning to fall with the rain!

"Hazel nuts!!"