As is typical at this time of year, we are getting rather more rain and less sunshine. Whenever we get a still day the midges make life a misery outside, so you either need a good midge repellent, keep all skin covered, or keep running! I’m using ‘midge magic‘ at the moment which seems as good as any anti midge I’ve tried. Last week was a bit windy, gusting to about 45mph or so. The alder tree branches are very brittle, and quite a few have top branches partially or completely broken off. I have also pruned a few more of the branches lower down to make the back pathways more passable in the wet.
The coming of heavier rain last week also filled the pond back up with water. It has been much emptier this year than last, although I didn’t think it had been very dry. Douglas still likes to paddle in the puddle left when it is low, but to be frank he gets a bit stinky in the mud! The river in spate has a lovely golden colour as it goes over the stones at the rapids, and is inky black with peat in the still deeps. When the river is low it has almost no colour and is crystal clear.
We’ve had more ‘free ranging’ sheep along the river banks this year, so there has not been so many wild flowers the other side of the fence. The trees we cut back when they were felled by the floods have been browsed back as well, so there is still a good clearing letting in light. There are some hazelnuts showing – usually in large clusters, but not so many as last year by far.
The late summer flowers are making a show now, with meadowsweet, various vetches and knapweed the stars of the show. Scabious and ling heather (calluna vulgaris) are also opening their flowers. I have two of the three common forms of heather growing here: ling and bell heather (erica cincerea). The bell heather is slightly earlier and the blooms are now fading, whilst the ling heather has paler flowers and is yet to reach its peak. The third common heather, cross leaf heath, does grow up on the hills, but I’ve not see it on the holding. It has fewer, larger and paler flowers.
There are more little hazel seedlings that I have noticed near the river in the tree field. Some I can leave to grow where they are – they will probably be happiest not being disturbed. Others, which are too close to the fence, other trees, or on the paths, I will try and remember to move this winter. The trouble is they are much more difficult to find when they lose their leaves. I should take down some sturdy long sticks and mark their places! In the meantime, I try and clear the grass around them and mulch them with it, which makes them easier to find at the moment.
I have pretty much cleared the bracken growing in the tree field. There really wasn’t very much at all this year. I should get out and pull the stems growing on the river bank as well, before it starts dying back too much. The big builders bag of bracken that I pulled last year is still there down by the pond. Unfortunately it is too heavy for me to move it. I did think that as the bracken died down it would get lighter, but if it has it hasn’t made enough difference for me. It is still not well rotted enough for compost, although would do as a surface mulch if I wanted. I may wheel it up to the new blueberry patch when I get on with that. Some nice light organic material will be just what the blueberries will like.