After so much mildness winter arrived a couple of weeks ago. A bit of a shock to the system as ‘Winter’ has meant wet, rather than super-cold for the past couple of years at least.
However, for the last week or so temperatures have been low. At first there was no accompanying sun which was starting to be a bit wearing, along with what seemed like a lot of rain… But this past week has seen low temperatures with sunshine. Beautiful sunrises, sunsets, hoar frosts and crisp dry days. Above all the quality of the light has been amazing. Clean and sparkling. A taste of ‘real’ Winter! Here are a few chilly but beautifully frosty pictures:
A little pot of frozen water… a little world within it!
Three visits, a week or so apart. Very different. The first in brilliant sunshine and unseasonably mild temperature. The second in greyness, drizzle and cold. The third, today, with mild weather returned but after quite a lot of rain.
The Gorge remains gorgeous.
Each time has given me a basketful of Tube Chanterelles.
Every time it’s given me feasts for my eyes and a feeling of ‘Wow. This place is special.’
Sometimes I feel I’m over-familiar with the route but, then something surprising will be thrown up that makes me see it afresh.
And despite me being no fan of wet, winter, rain and murk. Today – after a lot of the above, but nicely mild again, was another excellent visit.
Foaming water. Amazing lichens and mosses. Of course the mushrooms and an overwhelming ‘green-ness’ that the camera couldn’t capture.
November has been very mild so far. Whether it’s been rainy, windy, calm or sunny the accompanying air has been warm and soft.
Just one night of dipping temperatures at the end of October brought a slight frost which burnt the dahlias without blackening the stems or turning them to mush. So a few straggling flowers remain – but they look understandably tired now.
The freshness in the garden is provided by the blooms on Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’. Just outside the door the fragrance is subtle but delicious and the pale pink clusters are more numerous than last year. It’s an untidy looking shrub with not much interest outside it’s flowering season which is now.
I will try to prune it to give it a ‘better’ more compact shape but I’m not hopeful.
But now on to the ‘M’s of my title:
Maudez. So familiar but always good. Here, the ruined chapel and the path through the pines. Beautiful light. Fairly squelchy underfoot in places. Lots of gone over ‘Slippery Jack’ (Sullius bovinus) mushrooms, and a lovely harvest of Hedgehog fungus (Hydnum repandum.)
Mushrooms…. Not just the Hedgehog Fungus. I’ve had several pickings from a roadside patch of Snowy Waxcaps (Hygrocybe nivea).
This is a beautiful little tree. Five years old now? Not sure.
Its French colloquial name is ‘cul de chien’ or dog’s arse (the first photo will explain that!)
Best harvest ever. I’ve put them in a tray to ‘blet’ Basically that means you just leave them to get so ripe that they’re squidgy and almost rotting. That would put almost anyone off eating them. But they taste like baked apple without having to put them in the oven!
As the month reaches its end I find lots of positives.
Japanese Maples/Erables du Japan/Acer palmatum japonicum…
I wish I could say these are all growing in my garden, but I can’t! Most of the ones in my garden that I planted four years ago succumbed to some deadly lurgy, although I’ve still got three which are later to colour than the following.
These beauties are growing lustily in Michel’s garden. The last photo is a seedling from Michel. He’s also donated seeds… so, perhaps… one day….
A distinct lack of settled weather and sunshine, but that means I’m treasuring the short bursts of warmth and soaking up the rays when they manage to get through the clouds and damp.
A pleasing array of butterflies emerge every time the sun shines:
Red Admiral and Comma. Both typical, late season, butterflies. But in fewer numbers this autumn. I don’t know why?
Speckled Wood and Wall Brown. Both quite unremarkable at first glance, but such characterful, feisty – even pugnacious butterflies – I’ve got a soft spot for them both.
There’s not many birds that seem as stupid as a pheasant, unless it’s a Wood Pigeon! The pheasants whirr and clatter and squawk and seem to be unable to understand that they can escape from you by going sideways into a field (or even by flying away!) Instead they just keep running in front of me, getting ever more frantic!
I know all seasons are wonderful and all weather is just weather…However, I have to say that I am not a fan of anything much after September (October?) I don’t like the loss of light. I don’t like the damp. I don’t like the feeling of everything drawing back into itself and starting to dig in to hibernate…
I’m hoping that this post will fill up with wonderful things to disprove my title!
My last guy/gal standing… Despite the rain my last Swallowtail caterpillar continues munching on the carrots… One morning very soon I’ll go searching and it’ll be gone and I’ll be wondering whether it got eaten or whether it went and pupated… and I’ll never know the answer!
More Millers. What can I say that I didn’t say last year (and the year before?) I love these mushrooms. But I never get too complacent. Check the smell, is there that damp floury dough perfume? and if there’s ever a hint of not sure, do a spore print (pink) or throw away…
Huge chestnuts this year! Perhaps not so many as last year, but some real whoppers! Have been boiling and then scraping out the meat rather than just roasting on the fire… whatever way you cook them they’re lovely!
So… may well add to this but, at the moment, October is not depressing me!
And September does what it nearly always seems to do – the schools go back, the holidaymakers go home and September says “Ha! Here’s another burst of summer. Just for you”.
I’ve said thank you and made the most of it. A few (slightly clammy, it must be said) nights in the tent in the garden. Lots of sitting in the sunshine, watching the tomatoes finally ripen. Watching the swallows gather themselves readying to leave. (They left last week – on the 15th September.) But the neighbouring flock , is there a collective noun for swallows? left a couple of days later, and I counted seven stragglers sitting on the wires today…
Dahlias and Asters and Rudbeckia dominating the garden alongside the ridiculously laden apple trees.
The first few flushes of various mushrooms – a novelty still, welcome before they become common place.
Still a few butterflies gracing the garden and neighbouring fields: Red Admirals, all the confetti-like Cabbage Whites, Peacocks, Commas, Wall Browns and the occasional Clouded Yellow… I rubbed my eyes in disbelief at a pristine White Admiral which is usually only seen in high summer, in one generation – apart from exceptional years when there may be a partial second emergence… I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo of it, but plenty of other pictures here:
View from my tent. Early morning…
Some of the many Dahlias and the Rudbeckia goldsturm.
A good mix of Saffron Milk caps, Millers, Charcoal Burner and a scattering of Amethyst Deceivers.
Shelling bean ‘Cocos de Prague’ – a good harvest. Enough to dry and eat over the coming months and enough to sow next year.
A beautifully fresh Red Admiral, nectaring on a pink Aster.
Or more to the point, why no post? Here are some of the best bits before I’m posting again asking the same question about September:
The North Coast between Plouescat and Goulven. Lots of dunes and fine, shimmering white sand. Not that much visited previously. But will become a new favourite I think.
The first of the plum harvest. Damsons and ‘Victoria’.
Morning Glory (Ipomea) ‘Milky Way’ and ‘Grandpa Ott’. From seed this spring. One pot of these is clambering into the overhanging oak branches. No leaves left in the vines, but still a new flower every morning.
Sooty Copper. The purple iridescence is quite marked when the sun catches the wings…
Common Blue. Actually not that common here. This is the one of the very few. I’ve seen this year – on Sea Holly – at Plouescat