Thursday, 29 December 2016

Jack Frost the artist

A sunny, frosty morning is what winter should be like, so seeing this sunbeam lighting up a patch of frosted grass I was drawn out.

The little frost crystals seem to cluster at the tip of the grass blades.  Now why is that?

In amongst the grass are old leaves from last year.

A hazel leaf edged with white

 But not all leaves are dead.  
The veins on these nettle leaves are left green while the rest is frosted. 

On a flatter bramble leaf there is an even scattering of frost granules.

And primrose leaves are outlined with sugary icing.  
A promise of spring flowers to come.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

A step change

The path up from the Valley Woodland to the Viewpoint is fairly steep and in wet weather was becoming slippery.  So we installed a dozen of our locally grown steps.

Before and after

The poles were from our coppice so we first had to work out how to space out the available material.  

Here is Alan solving the puzzle. 

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

The sides were placed first and then the steps cut to fit.

Hazel pegs were driven in to hold everything in place.

Here's Roger drilling guide holes and Will nailing the stakes to the poles to secure them in place.  Plus dog Mia lending a helping paw.

Lastly the stakes were sawn off flush and then woodchip, brought up from our pile, was tipped behind the risers to produce steps.  Derek in action below.

From scattered poles to useful steps.

Extra photos supplied by Derek (he with the woodchip bag)

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Shell shock

This is a corner of our tool shed container, which we call The White House.  Originally painted white it is gradually toning in with the landscape thanks to rust and the growth of algae on the paintwork. 

But a few days ago I noticed a strange pattern  .  .  .

White trails through the grey-green algae

I think it has been caused by a snail or snails eating off the algae and thereby cleaning the white paint.  The jagged marks must be where the snail has been moving its head from side to side as it crawls along, scraping off the algae.  The spikes suggest that some of the tracks were formed on the way up and some on the way down.

Snails eat with a sort of rasping tongue called a radula.  You can see it on this video.

Or you can see it for yourself by smearing some flour and water on a sheet of glass.  Put a snail on the glass and watch from underneath as it feeds.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

More autumn leaves

Further to my posting of 26th October, here are some more autumn leaves.  In photo 1  there is one large PLANE leaf contrasting with NORWAY MAPLE leaves and one cherry leaf  (the small green one).

Photo 2 has a PLANE next to smalller, finely divided SILVER MAPLE leaves.

Golden brown BEECH leaves are slow to rot down and can suppress plants trying to grow below beech trees.

Photo 4 shows golden yellow ASPEN leaves, almost round and with scalloped edges

Lastly here are the heart-shaped leaves of SMALL-LEAVED LIME, still on the tree.

An extra identifier for lime is this small bunch of seed-containing fruits attached to a leaf-like bract, now all turned brown.