Salute to the English country garden


IF YOU were to watch BBC and Channel 4 gardening programmes (which I don’t) I’m sure you wouldn’t hear much mention of bedding plants such as lobelia, alyssum, begonias and French marigolds. The gardening trendy would never dream of using them in the traditional way, in rows, maybe with alternating colours. But it’s a style I love. It was pretty much the only style when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s, and it is still popular here in the Lancashire countryside. To me it speaks of a pride in being British, upholding tradition, doing it the way we always have and be damned to the modernisers who want to use grasses and palm trees. It is a very labour-intensive style, from the planting out as soon as the frosts have passed (no doubt the purists grow their plants from seed), to the weeding and deadheading, and keeping the lawn immaculate. Here are a few pictures I have taken over the last week or two on my walks from home.


IT’S been reported that a dairy farmer is helping with research in the hope of proving that his cows are just as happy indoors as out. That reminded me of this video of cattle being let out to grass in the spring after spending the winter in a shed. I don’t think much research is needed.


We have been entertained this week by the arrival of a brood of nine almost-grown mallard ducklings and their mother. Nine is a magnificent number – usually three or four is the most you ever see after the depredations of herons, magpies, rats and (I am sorry to say) other mallards, as I wrote here. Although the youngsters are not far from being able to fly (they spend a lot of time flapping their wings) they are still completely obedient to their mother, who rules them with a rod of iron. The tiniest sound from her and they cluster round. Any that step out of line get a swift peck. It has been hard to get a picture as they are shy, but I took this video yesterday. The mother duck is a little paler than standard and you can see her escorting them towards the end of the clip.


Last week I wrote that I hadn’t seen any sloes, but this week I found a tiny patch. This picture shows nearly all of them, probably about enough to make a half bottle of sloe gin. 

I also spotted these beautiful pears:

A crab apple tree bending under the weight of fruit:

and masses of blackberries, some already ripening while the plant is still flowering.


Notes from the Sticks is going on holiday for the rest of this month, and I hope to be back at the beginning of September.

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