Friday, 22 September 2017

Large White male - Pieris brassicae

Spotted in the garden in August (and onwards)  this is the Large White.  Quite often see them in pairs in the summer months (are they mating on the wing, then?) flitting around.  But until t this year never bothered to find out exactly what they were called - just knew the old fashioned name of cabbage white because the caterpillars love cabbage leaves.  And look!  brassicae in the name!
Well here is the male, so look out next summer.                           

Large White-Newdigate Surrey-30.08.2014

Celmatis Viticella "Kermesina"

 I do like clematis, and in a former garden I was never lucky.  Bill McKenzie was my first in this garden, and he just loves it - forgot to cut him back in February and he is RAMPANT!!  He's going to be cut back a bit in October, as I need to do some work on the border he is situated in.

A new bright red clematis I bought back in the spring , Madam Julia Correvon, went in with shoots all over the place.  It took a week for a bas**rd slug to find it  and eat every one.  So..... start again and put a copper collar round it.  It took 2 months for her to pluck up the  courage to shoot again, and this  time the bas**rd slug took 24 hours to find a way over the copper colour (or probably down from the shrub above it) and eat the new shoots.  All I am going to say is the root is not dead.... watch this space!!

However, To cheer myself up, I bought another viticella - Kermesina, with small flowers, and a wine colour petal.  I planted it, added a support and a copper collar and waited for it to grow up into a nearby silver birth, and over to the nearest fence.  Pah!  None of that nonsense thank you, not when there is a lovely support to grow round in circles! I haven't a picture of it taken by myself, but found this one on the internet from Sverre Lund, so thank you for that!
Image result for clematis viticella kermesina

It's full height is around 3 metres, and they suggest growing it on an obelisk,  so I guess it's support is just what it likes.  Pretty on those long stems, eh?

They require no work at all, the viticellas, except to cut back to the first pair of shoots in February.  How easy can that be?  So if you have never tried on before,  Try one in this group (and don't forget the copper collar to start with).  Rarely gets clematis wilt, either!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

PAX - Sara Pennypacker

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This one, new in paperback,  caught my eye on the front table of the bookshop.  The assistant told me she "loved" it!  I didn't buy it on the strength of that comment, but the cover is wonderful and the comments on the back drew me in.

Pax is a fox.  A pet, though, not wild.  He was found in a litter of three, the only kit still breathing, the parents both dead.  So Peter, Pax's boy, takes him home and saves his life and they are inseperable for some years, until the day the boy has to let go.  He has to open the car door, put him out and let his father drive off.  The reason for the abandonment becomes clear as we read the book.    No country is mentioned, although it sounds like America, but it could be anywhere in the northern hemisphere;  a war is coming, but it becomes obvious that this war is a civil war and is about access to water.   So it has a slightly dystopian feel about it.

Pax knows his boy will come and collect him.  But Peter is taken to his grandfather whilst his father goes off to war.  How Peter solves the problem of finding Pax, and how Pax remains in the area because he just has to wait for his boy to return is beautifully told.  There is violence because of the war and also because life in the wild is violent for any animal, whether in the hunt for food or the attack of another species;  there is love and care to for both the animals and for the boy, who finds a friend where he least exects it.   Will Pax survive?  and will Peter ever find him?

I think this is aimed at the YA market but it doesn't matter because this is a good read for any age however old.  I have to disagree with a one star rating on Amazon where a reader said that this was not suitable for children...... why not?  they can be little brutes themselves, so why would they be steered away from a wonderful read?

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Tribe - Sebastian Junger

Just 136 pages long, this is a fascinating essay about belonging - whether to your tribe, or your army unit, or your family.  I found this a book worth reading.  It is a thought provoking little volume.  Why do people join tribes?  Why do suicide rates drop during periods of war?  Why do people feel deflated after a war is over? 

It was recommended to me by a young American woman, who told me I just "had" to read it!  Her mother had, apparently,  read it 5 times already.  I can see the fascination it held for her because Junger looks at groups of people from the other end of the usual angle.  It starts with the question of why did many early early European settlers in North America join Native American tribes, either by choice or kidnapping (and if the latter, why choose to stay if they had the chance to leave?); and ends with a short but succinct observation about helping others or being just dead inside if you didn't.

You don't have to be American, you don't have to be - or know of - a veteran of war, you just need to be interested in life in general.  A great little study - and this from someone who left education many years ago.  This was a real food for thought read for me.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Niagara Falls All Over Again - Elizabeth McCracken

American vaudeville, early talkies and double acts.  That's the subject here, isn't it?  Well yes and no.  Certainly, the double act Carter and Sharp (think Abbot and Costello, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis) have a winning formula - one is a funny man, one a straight man and once they meet, this takes them on a money-making career path, through vaudeville theatre, and when that starts to dry up, into the movies.  It's a love hate relationship, they are very funny together, but when not "on", they fall out several times.

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If I said this was an in depth analysis of a double act it might be true, but it is deep in a different way;  we find out about Sharp's early life, but nothing about Carter's.  This is because Sharp is telling the story, and so we start at his childhood and move throught his entire life, encompassing the partnership with Carter.  Of Carter's early life, indeed, much of his life until he and Sharp meet is never spoken of, and Carter is always the funny man.  Always. On stage and off.  The pair drink, party, seduce women, get married, have children:   but for both men these things are not quite so important as fame and the trimmings that go with it.

McCracken did  a lot of research to get this book right (there are acknowledgements at the end of the book), and possibly it took her a long time to write it, but how wonderfully she describes down town Iowa; touring vaudeville theatres; Hollywood in the dearly days of movie making - the houses, the parties, the booze etc. There are also losses, when women move on, or take new partners, or die.  All of these things will have an affect on the duo.   Little known in the UK, this is a book about a certain time and type of American.  Deserves to be read.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Visiting a garden and finding treasures!

Today it rains...... yesterday it didn't.  So it was a good thing that yesterday I went to see a garden open for the day featured in The Yellow Book.  Look - try as I might, I don't think I am ever going to get into that book, even though 15 years ago when I started this garden that little thought twinkled there in the back of my brain.  But I love the planning of a new bed, or the changing of an old one and I especially love, in someone else's garden, the sight of something I have to have in mine!

And this is what I found yesterday.  It's a mouthful.  Eupatorium Maculatum Atropurpureum.  But it's common name is Joe Pye Weed, and that's what I will remember!  In the garden I saw yesterday it was over seven feet tall, and covered in bees of different kinds.  The owner of the garden says that butterflies love it too.  It was lovely.  So I sat in the sun, with my slice of lime cake and a cuppa (all proceeds for charity), wondering where I could put it.  And today, after much thought I know exactly where it is going!  Now I just have to order three so that I can get a large group in flower next August/ September.

I have a path right up the side of my garden that stretches for about 125 feet.  My next door neighbour has a right of way over it, as his garden is up beyond mine.  My big plan for next year is to set at least 4 arches over that path, and plant climbing or rambling roses and clematis.  There are already 3 birches (2 silver and one red), a black alder and a red smoke tree on that path, and I think this will fit in with them a treat.  But for now, just have a look!

The pic below came from a lovely garden blog  -  and I am sure the owner of the garden and the blog won't mind his pic on my blog.  So thank you Rick, and I was pleased to find you!

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