Say goodbye to those remaining tawny and copper leaves as they are whisked off the trees by storm Abigail. In fact strong winds last weekend have already lightened the load considerably, revealing the bare bones of many of the local trees and hedgerows. Walking with the dog has felt completely different since the winds. I’ve been able to see what Sadie has been up to in the set-aside copses along the path.
In fact she has been in seventh heaven with all the windfall apples on the ground and sloes on the lower branches showing up plainly (sometimes I wonder whether Sadie was a fruit bat in another life).
We can see beyond our boundary hedge again, so we could see that Monday morning’s sunrise was very beautiful and made the leafless damson trees appear as if they were on fire. Sadly, we didn’t actually see the sun though and soon it was a dull grey again.
One nice thing about bare branches is that you can see wildlife more easily. For instance, there is quite alot of frantic bird activity going on, the hedgerows are being stripped of their fruits and we can see the birds fly up en masse just ahead of us as we walk along the alleys and footpaths. There are noticeable flocks of goldfinch and tits (usually mixed blue, great and long-tailed tits) gathering.
As of this week, redwings seem to have arrived back from their summer jaunts. I haven’t seen any fieldfares yet though.
Meanwhile, in the village, there seems to be a lot of tree surgery going on. It’s a combination of trees shutting down for the winter and people battening down for harsher weather I suppose. We’ve nearly finished chopping down our self-seeded cherry (too close to the house – 9m tall and <2m from the house wall) and dealing with the pieces. Small leafy stuff has been ground down and composted, branches of medium thickness have been woven into our boundary to bulk it up, in a vain attempt to keep out the muntjac deer, and the large material has been set aside to be chopped up for the wood burner. Whilst busy chopping up the wood I remembered a design for rustic reindeer that they used last year in the Christmas (sorry for using that word) display at Wimpole and I thought that the cherry wood, with its glossy red bark, would look wonderful used for that. So this week I have distracted myself from the nights drawing in so early by moving into the garage and cutting, whittling and drilling to see if I could make some too. Here are the results:
Not too bad and they will certainly do for decorating the front porch. When we chain-saw the remaining trunk I might make a full-sized one, with antlers.
On a smaller scale than the trees, the plants in the border are being cut back to their bare bones too. One of my favourite transformations every year are the bracts of Bells of Ireland (Moluccella laevis) as they skeletonize.
They look like the conceptual diagrams of the gravity wells of black holes. I can imagine insects being sucked down (OK probably crawling) into the centre.
The Bells have nearly achieved their lacey patterns for this year and the winds have been tearing whole brittle stalks off the plant and throwing them about the garden. Any needed for decorations should be collected quickly before they are spoilt.
One final herbaceous skeleton structure that stands out for me, again because it looks like a conceptual drawings, are the spent flowering spikes of Heuchera that are dead-ringers for some kind of long chain chemistry molecule.
What chemical do you suppose that represents? One day I’ll take a decent picture of them to show the structure more clearly.
Have you got any skeletons in your garden?