June 2018 – more flowers and a magic moment with a dormouse

One of our most attractive trees flowered spectacularly throughout the month. It’s an old specimen of a dark-leaved Elder and has the most delightful deep pink flowers.

The Rhododendron has been removed. Neighbour Chris saw me struggling and kindly  took over the complete removal of the huge rootstock. This made way for renovating the border and replanting with perennials. Foxgloves and Campanulas  settled in well and came into bloom surprisingly quickly.

On her birthday, daughter Ashlyn came with Matthew, Olive and her Finnish Laphund puppy. It was lovely for us – but rather upset Leo! He spent most of their visit in the Field Maple tree. However, he was keeping a close eye on the proceedings because he was back in the house as soon as their car left the drive.

Incidentally, the Field Maple is not on good health. It has a hollow in the trunk and has produced a huge bracket fungus. Many of the tiny twigs  are dying and whenever there is a wind they break off and litter the lawn and border. It looks as if we will have to do something drastic with it – maybe cut it back to about 15 feet, kill it completely and grow a climbing rose up it. There are lots of Field Maples around and we have several in the hedge so it isn’t a conservation problem.

More work in the garden involved the removal of a derelict shed and the erection of a new potting shed. The windows will overlook two sides of the lower lawn and one end of the workbench will be an ideal place to sit and write. It won’t be as spectacular a my log cabin on the shore of our Islay garden but I’ll be very happy with it.

A success from Islay came in the form of a few Northern Marsh Orchids. They were abundant in our wild garden and several had seeded themselves into pots. We brought six of them with us and four  have flowered.

The river garden continues to be a delight although it is rather overgrown. Time is needed in the main garden so I haven’t been able to give it much attention. However, I pulled out all the Himalyam Balsam and removed a lot of nettles. Dragonflies were around on sunny days and we added a new one to our list – a Broad-bodied Libellula.

A final treat for the month was accompanying The Shropshire Mammal Group on a monitoring exercise. We had to make an early start as dormice spend the night in a state of torpor, so, until the weather warms up, they can be handled briefly without disturbing them. What a privilege to hold such a tiny rarity!

Lewis Carroll must have know a thing or two about dormice because a very sleepy one features in the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party when it wakes briefly to state – ‘You might as well say that  I breathe when I sleep” is the same thing as “I sleep when I breathe”!’