Summer 2008

As I write this it feels as if autumn has been with us for a couple of weeks, but it is only 1st September. Despite the amount of rain this season the ponds have been surprisingly low. The hay has not yet been cut because there seems hardly to have been a long enough gap in the rain for the grass to have been cut and then dried before baling. At least there has been no flooding like last year.

The grass is really growing strongly between the trees, except under the thickets in Oat Field (the first planted up). This means that the wild flowers have had rather a struggle this year and they have been a lot less obvious than previously. I continue to sow seed in the hope that some of it will take. I had given up on Teasels because after the first wonderful flush in the early years they never seemed to either self-sow or grow from the new seed I kept putting out. However, I noticed with great pleasure that one of the scrapes is now covered with young Teasel plants, so next year will be amazing - in that place anyway.

I am delighted to report that the tadpoles turned out to be both toads and frogs. I nearly trod on a group of tiny toads hiding in the long grass. The frogs were observed to be coming out of Complex Pond, some still with tails attached. This is clearly now a viable population and breeding annually. Unfortunately I have not seen any more Great Crested Newts, but I am sure they are still around somewhere.

Butterflies, moths and bumblebees are prolific despite the smaller number of flowers grown for them. Unfortunately I have to brush them off to remove the thistle flowers, of which there have been a quite a few this summer. I came across a newly dug hole with bumblebees and larvae struggling in the mud. Judging by the clawmarks it seems that a badger had visited the bee nest that night and scraped it out for the honey. The next day all the live bees had gone, so I hope that they could find another site and that the larvae survived.

The bad pest of the year was the Viburnum beetle. It decimated rather too many of the Guelder Roses, which I hope will try again next year to put out leaves. It is rather a large number of plants to go around, checking each leaf and squashing the caterpillars, but I am afraid that if I do not, then the plants will die.

So now I await the cutting of the hay meadow and the arrival of sheep to graze through this autumn. Then there will be the winter pruning. Hey ho, life is never dull.