Saturday, 17 October 2009

Summer Garden

Taking a rest from wanderings for a few days, what with the first frosts and another dull, grey autumn day, I thought I would share some pictures from the garden this summer. I was prompted to this by seeing Calendula officianalis (or Pot Daisy), reminding me that mid-October is still not too late for flowers.


During the Summer, with the very low rainfall this year, slugs and snails were mercifully absent. The plants to prosper most from the lack of snails were Hostas (fortunei).


Early in the season, a rarer form of Hebe, Hebe hulkeana was a mass of pale blue flowers. It has large glossy leaves unlike many of its New Zealand cousins.

hebe hulkeana

In late May my only Rose bush produced quite a stunning shot, I just caught it at the right time.

rose bud

It was then the turn of the Chinese Beauty Bush (Kolkwitzia amabilis) to show off.

Kolkwitzia amabilis

The bush is flanked by a pink Weijilia, Senecio and a Golden conifer formed a good early summer combination.

Kolkwitzia amabilis

All in the garden was not entirely pest-free even if the snails were keeping out of sight. There young spiders took up home in a Red Hot Poker plant.

spider mites

This patch of bellflowers does well most years.

bell flower

The first flowers that came from seed were a mixture of pansies, with assorted markings, this was one of the best.


Quickly followed by this 'paper flower' (possibly Xeranthemum annuum) with split stamens.

paper flower

Another lovely flower that came from seed was an orange/red mixture of dwarf Cosmos sulphureus, very much more compact than the usual over-large version.

orange cosmos

Probably due to the dry conditions I only saw one brood of garden birds successfully rear a family, the 'father' blackbird has just caught some sort of grub.


One shrub that heralds the end of summer but flowers on into December and attracts many insect visitors is Abelia x grandiflora.

Abelia x grandiflora

I grew some Larkspur (Gentian blue) from seed purely for the intense blue of the flowers; unfortunately it flowers rather late in the season.


But the star of the garden in 2009, and still covered in blooms, is Black Eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata) this is the first time I have managed to raise it from seed and has shot up to over six feet high.

Black Eyed Susan,Thunbergia alata

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Ham; Vernham Dean and Oxenwood

This fifteen mile walk covers a section of the ridge from Inkpen round to the south west. Here is the route of this walk:

View Ham - Vernham Dean - Oxenwood in a larger map

Test Way

Walks following the long distance path from Inkpen south towards Stockbridge and Romsey.

Inkpen - Combe
Combe - Linkenholt
Linkenholt - Hurstbourne Tarrant

The ‘path’ along the ridge is a badly rutted track rather than a footpath, I took a long detour south to make it into a circular walk. Probably the only walk I'll do to take in three counties: Hampshire; Wiltshire and Berkshire. I passed the point where the counties meet - a rather stagnant looking pond.
(See Map). The views from Ham Hill were very good, you can see the 'ancient' field system on the down slope.

ham hill
inkpen ridge view

Where I joined the section from Inkpen (annoyingly just under the one cloud in the sky), I then took Test Way south. This is called ‘Sheepless Hill’ and it lived up to its name.

sheepless hill

The path through farms and woodland was good, but no outstanding views and no fungi as yet. The sorii on the back of this fern caught my eye.

fern,fern spores

With no convenient paths I walked down narrow rural lanes, very occasionally meeting a car until I came to Vernham Dean which looks very much the chocolate box image of an English village.

thatched house,vernham dean

The pub looks idyllic too, a pity that it is no longer thatched.

george,pub,vernham dean

There were however many thatched houses in the village, this was one at the chocolate box extreme of the spectrum.

thatched house,vernham dean

I then climbed Haydown Hill, an impressive hill with commanding views and an iron age fort (you can see the bank and ditch), complete with a small pond right at the top - otherwise a fort on top of chalk is pretty useless they would soon be forced to surrender through lack of water. The otherwise straight Roman road from Marlborough to Winchester makes its only detour along the Chute Causeway to avoid the hill. The view was clearest to the south east.

haydown hill,iron age fort

haydown hill,iron age fort

Walking down along farm tracks and lanes, Fosbury Farm was surprisingly grand for such an isolated location.

fosbury farm

Following poorly maintained footpaths (I got an electric shock from one such obstruction) I re-joined the ridge at Oxenwood. The sheep were being moved by the farmer, they look heavily pregnant.


I came across a variety of birds and a good range of butterflies, this one I think is a female stonechat.


Pheasants were everywhere;, farmers have planted small strips of sweet corn along the field edges for their benefit.


Following the ridge trackway (fairly boring) brought me back to the starting point with more stunning down land views. About 15.5 miles in all, so I was suitably exhausted.

river down