The first flowers have just started opening on the teazle in the wildflower patch. Teazles are unusual – the first flowers open as a belt round the middle of the flowerhead, and then progress both upward and downward as the first flowers die, giving a striped effect.

teazle - flowers just starting to open

swan family

Due to my unexpected trip to WRH, I hadn’t managed much in the way of walking for a week. On Tuesday, I got as far as the Bilford Road locks, and noticed that the swans nest was devoid of swans, but had been taken over by a couple of rather shifty-looking ducks. I kinda hoped that that meant a successful hatching, rather than interference.

Today’s rather longer walk (2.34 miles) took me past there again, and down to Gregorys Mill top lock, where I encountered this delightful family. I’m pretty sure it’s the same lot – I haven’t seen any other swan nests in the area. Three gorgeous little fluffy cygnets – one hiding behind a parent.

ducks on swans nest


swan family

garden bits

An afternoon of tying up things flattened by recent winds, and a weed gun session! Patio, paving by French window, and front garden all suitably scorched.

The first of the acanthus spikes is starting to open – at the moment, it’s only about five feet high and is being bullied by the ceanothus (which as usual I’ll prune severely as soon as it stops flowering). Acanthus loves it here, and gets to over 7 foot tall.

Resting on one of the acanthus flowers (barely visible in the big photo) is this pretty little moth – about a centimetre across. I think it’s a “mint moth”.

acanthus mollis


mint moth


Just over two mile walk this evening. The first of the yellow flags have just started opening – on the other side of the canal, so rather a struggle for the little camera! It only does 4x zoom, but it’s the one I usually take on walks ‘cos it fits in a shirt pocket, is “waterproof”, and does excellent closeups for flowers.

yellow flags (irises)

assorted flower things

The little geraniums (cranesbills, not pelargoniums) are now in full flower. The pale one is the “pencilled geranium” (g. versicolour), and I think the darker one is a cultivar of the “Bloody Cranesbill” (g. sanguineum). Excellent plants, which go on flowering for most of the summer … though they do get out of hand and need trimmed back towards the end of the season.

I spent the afternoon taking down the overgrown rosemary “Miss Jessop”, now that the flowers are over and it was no longer covered in bees. Hopefully, that will make the herb bed more useful. There’s a replacement “Miss Jessop” already installed in a half barrel, in which I’ve also planted parsley.

Not a very long walk today: 1.69 miles, – just down Merrimans Hill to the canal, and back up the footpath from Gregorys Bank top lock. I was too tired after an active afternoon gardening!

I was delighted to see the dog roses are starting to come out – they were in tight bud when I passed this way 3 or 4 days ago.

(images are “clickable”)

fig, and evening walk

The Brown Turkey fig tree had little green marbles of figlets on it over the winter. Come spring, they’ve swollen to pullet-egg size, and are showing distinct signs of becoming fig-like.

It’s the first time I’ve grown a fig (this is its third summer here), and I’m feeling cautiously optimistic.

After doing bits to the back loo project (painting doorframe, oiling doors etc) I had a glorious early-evening stroll down to the canal and along the towpath – everything looks so alive at this time of year! Honeysuckle is now out: this is between Gregory’s Mill Bottom Lock and the corrwsponding Top Lock … looks fantastic, but is rather hayfever-inducing to walk past.

three growing figs


canal in sunshine below Bridge 13


honeysuckle flowers

overcast day

Today started chilly and with a slightly damp feel in the air. I was up at 7am, as there was a possibility of a parcelforce delivery, but on checking it now looks like being tomorrow! Aching joints, and retreated to bed for an hour with painkillers before lunch.

When I got up again, things were much better. I managed a bit of light gardening after lunch, and got in an evening walk of about a mile and a half. Delighted to see that the swans have started nesting, just down from the Bilford Road lower lock, and managed a not-brilliant photo (I must take the better camera next time I go that route).

swan nesting


walk route and details

autumn walk

Over at my Mum’s in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds yesterday, and managed a brief walk on the Common. Actually, it nearly did for me – I’ve been fairly housebound for the past ten days, and coming back from the Common I began to seriously wonder if I was going to make it back to the house! A week of the “sunshine and heavy showers” thing has done my back no favours.

I was glad to see a couple of Fly Agaric out. None were visible when I was last there, probably due to the dry late summer, and most of the usual places still don’t have any. Perhaps they’re just very late this year, and continuing damp may bring them out.



more orchids

Having discovered bee orchids among the Early Purple ones on the small side lawn at my Mum’s last week, yesterday was a discovery among the colony of Early Purples on the front lawn! Taller and much darker than early purples, I think they’re probably Pyramidal Orchids, though the leaves wrapping the stems don’t extend quite as high up as I’d remembered.

Pyramidals were the dominant orchid in the field behind the house fifty-odd years ago, before the unfortunate few years when it was ploughed up – an episode from which it’s only just starting to recover.