Saturday, 12 September 2009

Now is the Time to Say Goodbye

It's hard to believe but it's almost a year since we moved in. And as autumn has come to Rosedale once again, it seems the right time to close. But work goes on. The garden has given us a great deal of pleasure this year but is beginning to fade, as the final flush of the foxgloves in photo three show. And as it matures in years to come, it will continue to do so. Remedial work inside also continues. You can just spot Alan's van as he is in the process of adding extra draft-proofing to the sash-windows which will, I hope, keep us extra comfortable next winter. (At times, it was like living in Wuthering Heights.)

The leave are beginning to turn and the plums are once again ripe for picking. Time to close the doors and batten down the hatches for another winter, although in this Indian Summer we're having, it's hard to believe just how cold it can get here.

Thank you for reading and commenting. It's been a pleasure.

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Sunday, 16 August 2009

Rosedale Show 2009

I love a country show, especially when it's the local one and it takes place in the field immediately to the back of our house and garden.

For the past week I've been able to watch progress as the marquees went up, the stalls selling everything from ice-cream to sheepskin rugs, garden benches, portable toilets and cowboy hats were towed in by a succession of vans, lorries and tractors. The morning of the show itself saw a steady stream of cattle-trucks, horseboxes and other assorted vehicles turning into the gate. By midday the lane resembled a busy day on the A1 with car after car making their way, nose to tail, up to the car-park, which for the rest of the year is usually filled with sheep or rooks.

The weather was typically English--fleeting bright sunshine, fluffy white clouds and a couple of hefty downpours which had everyone scuttling for cover, either in the marquees to inspect the cakes, eggs, prize parsnips and flower-arrangements or to grab a hot dog, coffee or tea and buns. There was a moment of high drama, too, when a particularly vicious gust of wind lifted the canvas roof off the beer tent. Fortunately, as far as I know, no-one was seriously hurt although a couple of cars suffered damaged when the improvised giant kite landed in the car park.

But in usual English fashion, a doctor was on hand and a bevy of helpers rushed in to sort everything out. Meanwhile, the show went on and ice-creams, plants, pottery, garden ornaments and farm cheeses were sold, assorted breeds of cattle, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits, guinea-pigs and rabbits, were gazed upon and petted by assorted children. The dulcet tones of the Malton White Star Band, resplendent in their royal blue jackets, wafted over the grass and across the dale; the horses brushed and combed to glossy resplendence paraded and later jumped as the sun slid behind the hills and the owls began to call.

Townies may turn their noses up at such a sight but to me it represents everything that's good about the spirit of the English countryside. The show committee work their socks off for nothing putting up signs, directing traffic, selling tickets, dealing with lost children, car-keys and other minor headaches, organising the judging of everything from highland cattle to handwriting competitions for the children. And they're still there now as I type, clearing up the piles of litter (where does it all come from?), taking down fences and returning the field to its quiet self once more. (Until the football season begins again.)

I bought a load of plants which I later transferred to my garden. Meanwhile, the show continued behind me. It was a fabulous day, even thought the beer tent lost its roof, but none of its customers. Never let it be said that misfortune parts a Yorkshire man from his beer. In true Bulldog spirit, the looked up to the open sky, shrugged and carrying on shifting those pints.

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Thursday, 25 June 2009

Pond Life *

As with everything in the garden, the pond is work in progress. It all looks a bit raw. The water irises and lilies are hardly lush and the hostas and ferns that will one day scramble lushly over the rocks that surround the waterfall look a bit pathetic. But all the hardware is in place and the electrical wizardry (the waterfall and lights) is in working order. I am particularly pleased with the pedestal pots that the previous owner left lying around. We cleaned them up and re-assembled them and I've planted them with ivy and all-white annuals and the effect is just what I wanted. The water is clear and healthy, judging from the huge number of tiny but fully-formed frogs now hopping out to start their new and exciting lives--well some of them, anyway.

And we have fish. The first to take up residence was one we've had for nearly 20 years. I can't remember how old Andrew was but he announced when he was about 9 or 10 that he wanted goldfish for his birthday. We didn't have a pond then but we bought a big tank and three fishes. I remember Andrew standing in the shop looking very serious as he made his selection. One was almost black, the other was silver and the third pure gold (not orange). Andrew named them Thunder, Flash and Lightning. Unfortunately, for reasons we never discovered, we came downstairs one morning after a few months to find one of them floating on the top of the water. (I can't remember which one because by them they were all beginning to turn the same shade of orange.)

But the two others continued to grow and thrive. One was slightly bigger than the other and always beat his smaller companion to the food. (Not sure which came first- the size or the greed.) The tank sat on the kitchen window sill and before long, Andrew lost interest as other more exciting pastimes took over. He went to senior school, did his GCSEs, A levels, got a job and left home. He didn't want them. Too much trouble, he said. So I continued to clean and feed the fish whose lazy circling of their cramped environment and their delicate trailing tails and fins would soothe my daily chores. with not a little guilt at their captivity.

This continued for many years until about two years ago, the big one became ill and then turned his fins up which left one. Alone, he grew a bit bigger and seemingly sad and lonely.

So, when we began to plan the chapel, we knew we had to have a pond to replace the old one that leaked and was in the wrong position. We were confident it would be ready for our lonely survivor to move into as soon as we arrived. Not so, for reasons that would take too long to explain. He had to be ignominiously housed in a plastic container for the hour or so's journey. Suffice to say, he looked a bit groggy when we got him here but soon returned to his normal lugubrious self in his tank which we put in the utility room. And so he remained throughout the winter and until May.

At last, everything was ready. The water was in perfect condition, the weather clement, the ducks (remember them?) less in evidence. The day arrived to give our fish his freedom. Would he find the hugely enlarged space traumatic. Did fish suffer from agoraphobia or post-traumatic stress disorder? Would he cope with fending for himself and coping with snails, tadpoles and other creatures of the deep?

We needn't have worried. Form the word go, he shot off and raced about the pond as if he'd gone to Fishy Heaven.

But he was still one fish. Time to find him some friends. These came courtesy of John's office where there's a small garden and a pond where the fish breed like rabbits and are overcrowded. The pond is badly neglected and the water littered with crisp packets and plastic cups, the water filthy. So I saw it as yet another rescue mission. They are smaller than our original fellow, paler and one has a red splodge on his nose, but they have certainly grown and all are thriving. Every day I take myself there to stand or sit and am soothed by the sounds and sights of moving water. It's good for the soul and, I hope, good for the fishes too.

* I wonder why we liken the worst kind of people in this world to pond-life? There's nothing more lovely.

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Saturday, 16 May 2009

A walk up the garden (3)

Nearly done now. It’s getting steeper, though and wellies might be required after rain.

A copper beech hedge will eventually screen the compost heaps—at present bit of a dumping round. This part of the garden is the home to the Northern Rock (see previous posts.) It will be grassed but I intend to let the grass grow longer here. It’s too steep to mow and I hope to encourage wild flowers. Here are the maples in all their glorious shades of red and green, various bamboos and a terrace of azaleas and rhododendrons.

And that’s about it for now. There’s still more than enough to do. We also need to think about seating and further planting. Meanwhile it’s time for Mother Nature to do her bit.

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A walk up the garden (2)

So, onwards and upwards…but first look to the right a bit (lane-side) and you’ll see one of the newly planted borders. There are three, two are herbaceous and cottagey and the one that curves behind the pond is mainly shrubs. In between the two herbaceous borders there’s a sunken bit where daffodils, hellebores and ferns grow beneath a dawn redwood and another shrubbier tree whose name escapes me for the moment. I’ll think of it eventually. Amelanchier. That's the one.

Beyond the pond there’s a curving line of yew trees beyond which is a second area of lawn that we’ve named the Spring Garden because it already has a carpet of daffodils (now in their scruffy dying-back stage), crocuses and bluebells. Further up still is the little formal knot-garden with its low box hedging. This is still in progress and has not yet been fully planted. Again, the top part of the bird-bath (the huge stone leaf) was left behind by the previous owner who used it as part of a waterfall. Now with a new pedestal it forms the focal point of the little garden. (I don’t know what the stone is but it turns the water a strange crimson colour. Another quirk of our strange garden.)

Catch your breath, turn round and look back down the garden towards the chapel and across the dale to the western bank. My favourite, favourite view…now up we go again…

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A walk up the garden (1)

Those among you who have been reading this blog right from the beginning (and if not, why not?) will know that the garden is a bit unusual. It extends from the east side of the chapel with its conservatory and terrace and follows steep Heygate lane up the bank in the shape of an isosceles triangle. (For the geometrically challenged, it tapers gradually to practically nothing.) Beyond is a tangle of undergrowth, then Heygate farm and the open moors where you will find no further habitation (except a ruined shepherd’s cottage which I covet) until, after 8 glorious miles, the road drops down over a ford and into the wooded Eskdale village of Egton Bridge.

Right; back to the garden. Follow me…

Out of the conservatory, across the stone terrace and up the steps onto the lawn. (The stone planters, as well as the wire trough baskets, were left by the previous owner and will be planted up with annuals as soon as the danger of frosts has passed.)

Just beyond the garage, which is on your left, is the partly planted (and therefore still rather sparse) heather and conifer bed. Further on and to the right is the not-quite-completed pond and its rockery and waterfall which has been planted with ferns and hostas.

The fourth picture is taken from just behind the garage where my new super-duper washing carousel whizzes round like the clappers in the northerly gales that sweep down from Northdale. You can also catch a glimpse of the little beck that tumbles down from the moor to join the Northdale Beck just after the Milburn Arms.

Unfortunately, Blogger only allows me to post four photos at a time. The stroll up the garden continues…

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Sunday, 19 April 2009

Garden Progress

More lawn and one of the new mountain ash trees. Every week it looks less of a building site and more and more of a garden. But there's still a long way to go and an awful lot of watering--with regular breaks for duck chasing.
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