Category Archives: wood

cabbage is king…

I’m a big convert to cabbage, particularly Cavolo nero, (black kale).

It’s a very versatile vegetable.  We use the young leaves in salads and the longer crinkly ones in, well just about anything, from soup, stews, as a side dish and, the other day, in a kale and pancetta flan served with a good handful of our juicy rocket leaves.

I have plenty of seedlings ready to be planted out – lucky then that the lovely OH has finished weeding the brassica tunnel as well as spending time on pollarding some of the goat willow and weaving a retaining wall.  The wall will support the soil until the hornbeam hedge has established enough to knit the slope.

In between sowing and planting out….

I’m still trying to identify the perennials in the wildflower verge…

and I’m completely enthralled by the tulips ‘Brown Sugar’ and ‘Comet’.  I can’t wait for ‘Ballerina’ to complete the trio, (all have a lovely scent as well).

dress the tree – steps 1,2, & 3

Step one – add lights… step two – add more lights… step three

pile on all the baubles.   I colour co-ordinate across the spectrum.

christmas-tree-2016My vintage bauble rehoming initiative has continued apace with some 1950-1960s additions, sourced from a number of Ledbury’s fine charity emporiums.dsc_0684The following 2 pictures show concave glass forms; the latter has handpainted details.  What could be nicer for these 50+ year old baubles than another outing on a tree?   dsc_0698dsc_0696Talking of which, the tree is a superb specimen.  Regrettably, this is probably the final year we can take a spruce from our neighbours’ plantation. With another year of growth the trees will be too tall for our library.  We’ll have to find another local grower.  Given that this is the last year, we’re very pleased that our £25.00 along with all the other monies raised from our neighbours’ christmas tree sales will go to a local cancer support charity.

All set for the big day.

Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.



willow wood, withies, weaving, wreaths…

We planted our sallows, (willows), the year after we first started putting in the shelter belt blocks.  The lovely OH cut some short lengths from a neighbour’s copse and pushed the cuttings into the soil.  Willow strikes really easily and grows quickly.  If I stand in the centre of the copse it almost – almost, has the character of a small piece of woodland.

dsc_0677I stand amongst the willow and have a ‘Walter Mitty’ moment whereupon one day I might spot a Purple Emperor butterfly flitting overhead, (the caterpillars feed on goat willow leaves).

As willow branches, (withe), are straight and very flexible they are ideal for weaving, so we decided to have a go at making our own Christmas wreaths.

dsc_0668dsc_0670Here I have to admit that the lovely OH is far better at weaving than I so I soon handed the job of making the woven rings over to him. We had gathered some branch trimmings of spruce when we collected our Christmas tree; the remainder of foliage came from the holding.  With a glass of dessert wine and a few biscotti to hand, we set to….

dsc_0668bdsc_0671One smallholding wreath!




of arches and arboretums…

We have a central path in the to-be garden now.

dsc_0609 We plan to have an archway along the path to give some height to the central section.  Cast iron is far, far too expensive but luckily we have a solution to hand – hazel poles and willow whips…

dsc_0625-3dsc_0627-2Our willow copse most definitely needs pollarding this year.  In truth we probably don’t have enough hazel poles amongst the cobs and filberts as yet but there are plenty of local suppliers.  Hopefully, we can construct something along these lines…

photo courtesy: Wassledine

We had few days in Oxford – the University Parks has some lovely, lovely trees.  I pocketed some berries from the specimens along the ‘Thorn Walk‘, – a wonderful collection of hawthorns and crab apples and some berries from a white form of rowan.  Whilst there is no guarantee that the trees will come true I’m keen to have a go at germinating from the seeds contained within the fruits.

dsc_0621-3There is a small area at the back of the orchard where we could make our own tiny arboretum.  Though I’m not sure how I can possibly edit my must have list of trees!


slow down…

Leaves are falling.  The sap flow rate is reducing.

dsc_0613-2The walnut trees are amongst the first to have shed their leaves.  Whilst the foliage contains a toxin, juglone, this breaks down once the leaves are composted which will help to replace our valuable organic reserves for next spring.

The lovely OH has moved wood from the outbuildings and stacked in the log store outside the door.

dsc_0614Ladybirds have come indoors and now congregate in the corners of the window recesses.

The days may be grey but there are still bright sparks to be found….

dsc_0620dsc_0619dsc_0618…and I have time for one of my favourite activities – compiling the seed order for next year.

Reading this week: River Cottage A to Z (not so much a read as a dip in and out, the book is huge!)




soaked, soggy, sodden…

DSC_0271I foolishly thought that I would be able to crack on with planting, nay perhaps even sowing, outside.  Well I can’t because the ground is sodden again.  So I stomped off in my wellies to the bottom of the field, where the lovely OH planted the willow and alder.  Though in the case of the former, planting consisted of sticking cuttings into the ground.  Whilst this area is at the base of the, albeit gentle, slope of our field, it is now drier than the top, as willow and alder can suck out quite a volume of water.

  We have yellow willow, probably Salix lutea, and grey – S. caprea, the goat willow, which has the lovely pussy willow flowers.


The alder is full of catkins and the boundary hedgerow is bursting with sloe blossom.


Suitably cheered, l wandered back to potting shed to sort out spares of the tomatoes and chillies for swapping.

Venison and wine have been offered!





woolly weather…

The OH tells me that on his last venture out to work on small-holdery projects he was wearing 4 layers of clothing, (tee, shirt, jumper and jacket) plus woolly hat, (I’m assuming pants and trousers were in evidence).   The temperature outside is dropping.

We have wood burning stoves which we use as our main heat source.  Yes, yes the oil price has plummeted and we could turn up the thermostats from their frost settings to kick the oil fired, underfloor heating into life, but we don’t because but nothing beats a wood fire, and we’re not alone in  loving a wood fire. In the last year 200,000 wood burning stoves have been installed in Britain.

DSC_0513The OH has accumulated a significant stash, and even I, in the aftermath of the storms Abigail and Barney, was looking at the downed tree limbs and thinking ‘wood….’.

DSC_0506The ash in the shelter belt is coming along but it will be a good while before we can do even a first thinning.   In the meantime we acquire wood from a variety of sources.

… and the best bit? Coming down in the morning and putting a bit of scrunched up paper and twigs in the embers of last night’s fire and ‘hey presto’ a new fire bursts into life.