I am not sure if I will be doing tree following this year, I like it and think it is a good meme, so would encourage others to join in, however as my trees are all so small, I feel not very much happens, no pretty blossoms, no brightly coloured fruits, no lichens yet, no high branches to gaze up into, and I am so slow with a camera that a bird would have to have arthritis for me to get a photo, I was thinking of following one of the trees in the college grounds as they were planted in the late C19 so are full grown, but, yes there is always a but, and it is the same one, the weather, or more correctly the rain, a monthly walk around the college grounds would be nice in dry weather, however I am not partial to doing it in the rain, and more specifically wind and rain.
I decided to write this post though as it follows on from my last two posts about flooding and wildlife and hard landscaping, you see trees are the opposite of hard landscaping, whereas hard landscaping exacerbates flooding and steals wildlife habitats, trees reduce flooding and create habitats for wildlife, they are a win, win plant, a single full gown tree absorbs a great deal of water and provides a diverse habitat for hundreds of creatures, plant a tree.
When I came to this house and garden 14 years ago, trees were the first plants I planted, I read about them, library books as it was before I had a computer, some trees by nature seed into wet swampy places, trees like alders and birches, they suck up the moisture and dry the soil out a bit so other plants that cannot grow in water and swamp can then grow, more wildlife moves in, gradually over the decades the birches and alders decline due to less moisture and other trees move in like oaks, this is good for nature as habitats change over the decades, birches and alders will be growing on other wet land and the cycle starts all over again.
As I had been told this house suffered from damp, I had conflicting information from ‘the experts’, I planted alders on the west side where water runs down from the field, the soil now in the alder garden is the best drained and friable most of the time, by the time the trees get to full size I think it will be a drought garden, the downy birches have had it harder as they are in the lowest part of the garden, but it is still much less wet than 10 years ago, yet we have more rain now, although the birds have not nested in these trees yet, they are often hopping about in them or just sitting singing or watching me, I see lots of wee creatures around and in the trees but have no idea what most are, the leylandii being evergreen and denser provided a better place for a nest, under the trees gives shelter for foraging on a blustery day, see, win win.
I learnt that I can not prune the birches and alders in late winter and spring as the sap rises because they bleed, so last year I wrote in my diary on the 1st of October, November and December, prune birches and alders, well we had some dry weather in October and I made a start on 2 of the birches, the photos in this post were taken in October with the exception of the last photo, the trunks are turning silver/white and I love how the bark peels, they are imo, weird and wonderfully wind shaped, multi trunked small trees.
francescaple.tfbirch8ok, so after reading a couple of tree following posts, I’m in, I will be following one of my downy birches but not sure which yet,

┬ęCopyright 2016 Frances Caple. All rights reserved. Content created by Frances Caple for Island Threads.

wildlife Wednesday ~ the long view

I do not have any wildlife photos, January was not a good month for any flora or fauna including the human kind, so this is a wordy post, in my previous post I said I thought the covering of so much land now with hard impermeable surfaces contributed to flooding, I also think it contributes to the decline in wildlife, join Tina for wildlife Wednesday,

I grew up on a large housing estate in south east England, my mother moved into the house as a teenager in the 1930’s and moved out in 2009, my parents were living with my grandmother when she died in 1946 and my parents were allowed to take over the tenancy, there is a very small front garden and a small but slightly larger back garden, my mother remembered the area when it was just fields, the builders of the 1930’s took care to leave many of the trees and at the corner of every road there was a shrubbery,

in the 1960s these shrubberies were rented to the adjoining houses and became lawns or parking areas, this wildlife area was gone, in the 1970s as more people became car owners, front gardens were paved or tarmaced for car parking, this continued into the 80s until most of the front gardens had become parking areas, at barely 2 cars wide the roads are not suitable for lots of cars, vans, etc. wildlife habitat decreased, in the 1990s came the craze for hard landscaping and the small back gardens started to be covered in paving for patios and outside rooms with high fences between them, the trees most of which had managed to survive the destruction of wildlife habitat were now the enemy, they had to go, all those leaves on pristine patios,

in 2005 working one afternoon in my mothers garden when she had became less able to, I become very aware of the silence, oh there was plenty of human and artificial noise, but no birds, no bees, I didn’t see a single butterfly, it was a warm summer afternoon, there were plants and flowers in both the front and back of my mother’s small gardens, but they were the only ones in her end of the road,

I remember when there were flowers in every front garden and vegetables in most back gardens, when men would stand in the summer evening or weekend chatting about various men things and the women would call to each other over the back fences and have a good natter, when children could play in the garden or sometimes build a camp among the shrubs at the corners of the street, and as they did all this, the bees, butterflies and other wee creatures supped nectar from the flowers, the ants and wee crawling things worked and lived in the earth, the birds occasionally flying in for a tasty meal then back up to the branches singing, the noise of nature was all around us, now, all gone,

my mother has moved into sheltered housing just 10 miles from the south coast and she has a lovely little flat that looks out on a communal garden, it has a lawn and seating between trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs, she enjoys seeing the birds, squirrels and local cats, there is a parking area but the intention is that the garden will stay, the parking will not be extended,

it is all to easy to blame farmers for the decrease in wildlife, they are trying to make a living, perhaps people should consider paying more for food to help the farmer off set losses from not using insecticides, it amazes me that people in many jobs we do not need to stay alive, earn enormously higher wages than people in the food industry, which we would certainly die without, I digress,
maybe we should look at all the hard landscaping we have created collectively that has also caused the demise of our wildlife ……………………

┬ęCopyright 2016 Frances Caple. All rights reserved. Content created by Frances Caple for Island Threads.

rain, snow, hail and flood


I have been thinking about all the flooding in parts of the UK, which though we have had a lot more rain on a regular base, we do not get the flooding in the North of Scotland, one reason I know was due to the amount of rain over a very short period of time some areas received, however I do wonder if some of the flooding is due to over use of impermeable materials and lack of local drainage, there is a drainage ditch running between my house and the road and I have several drainage ditches in my garden, around my house, also my house like many others is build higher than the surrounding ground, water (any fluid) has to run some where, if you lay materials it cannot drain through it will gather on the surface and you will have a puddle>pond>river>flood …… it is inevitable, and, the lower down the hill you are the bigger the river of water when it reaches you,
the first year we had such wet weather 2011/12, there was some flooding on roads, the low part of my garden, near the docks in town, etc. following it the local authority sent out the diggers, ditches were cleared and widened, in some places the grass beside a road has built up higher than the road, channels were dug at intervals to be sure the water ran off the road into the ditch, the ditch at the front of my house was dug out and widened, so now the water in the lower part of my garden drains away, sometimes slowly as today but it has not been as bad as in 2012 yet we have had more rain,
I have heard on the radio people say their house has been standing 100, 200 years or more and never flooded until recently, the thing is 100, 200 years ago even 50 years ago, their house would not have been surrounded by so much concrete and/or tarmac, there were cobbles streets very often edged with a grass strip between foot path and road, ditches like the one at the front of my house were very common in rural areas when I was a child in the 50s, many were still there when my children were young in the 70s, most have now gone, filled in and covered with a hard surface, often due to the need for parking, or to widen roads to accommodate traffic, I notice in gardening magazines and books, photos of soil up close to houses, better to have a clear area which slopes away from your house or even a ditch to guide the water away from your house,
I have been feeling more than a little irritated by the UK media, all this talk of a warmer winter and how wonderful it is, this leaves me wondering if I am living in the UK, my passport says I am but journalists seem to think the north of Scotland and Scotland’s island are not part of the UK, you would think a journalist would need an education, apparently not! most of January was spent with frost, light snow and large hail stones, the ground remained frozen, one morning I woke up to a whitish garden thinking it was snow but on closer look saw it was large hailstones, one day I was in town when they came down and I can tell you from personal experience they hurt! couple that all with almost constant storms, I’ve lost count of the number of times the winds have passed 80mph and even 90mph, there is more promised,
a brief break in the rain I went into the garden to take a few photos, I know there are some good things but with so much bad I find it hard to see the good, my bins are due to be emptied early Thursday morning but apart from 2 small bags of household rubbish they are empty, yet there is tons (no exaggeration here) of stuff in the garden that needs to be taken away, I foolishly became optimistic last autumn and ordered some plants I’ve had to put them in pots along with the many bulbs that I couldn’t get planted and there’s more to come, some I ordered will be delivered this month, more in April, even more foolishly I ordered some shrubs and trees a month ago, they are waiting to be put into pots, no chance of getting them in the garden, you would think I had learnt this lesson, I have tried reviving my interest in textiles and the making of but it’s not working, I am also trying to learn French after my failure to learn Spanish, why do I do this to myself, sometimes I wish I was the kind of person who can sit and crochet, knit or do nothing while watching TV all day, I don’t even have a TV,
no end of month view, no pretty snow photos, no flowers, no hope,

┬ęCopyright 2016 Frances Caple. All rights reserved. Content created by Frances Caple for Island Threads.