new year blue skies

The bitterly cold December has given way to a regular January, at least here. We had a bracing walk yesterday morning, frost underfoot when we set off, but melted by the time we returned.

The sky was that wonderful shade of January blue, and very welcome after days of relentless, gloomy grey. Our walk took us through this beech hangar of mature trees at one of the high points of the Wiltshire Downs, magnificent in their bareness. Beeches do have very fine bones.

I spent a little time in the garden in the afternoon beginning the spring tidy up-pruning overgrown roses and clematis and thinking about whether to have a major refurbishment of the borders. I am determined to continue the work I stared last year of providing nectar rich varieties of flowers for the insects to feed on, especially as I have high hopes the occupants of the bee hotels will have survived the bitter weather. I just need a little less breeze and at few more degrees, and the digging fork will be coming out of its winter storage.

using your voice

It was a gorgeous blue and gold afternoon here.

This is one of the Norway Maples that grow near my house, doing its magnificent autumn thing, whilst showering a bazillion seeds onto my garden which will attempt garden domination next spring. I was outside spotting bees, in an attempt to log my final sightings for the year. I did find a Carder bee basking on the back wall, together with one odd hoverfly.  A couple of dopey wasps were munching on the apples on my Golden Delicious tree. Little activity, but still some late hymenopterans. I am hoping to spot the  Ivy bee, Colletes hederae, the last of the solitary bees to emerge and likely to be found on ivy flowers into mid November, but I have so far failed.

In the course of my bee hunting I noticed how pretty the Michaelmas daisy flowers still are. I added to my collection on Monday after a visit with VP to the Botanic Nursery where they hold a good collection of the plants. On Monday morning they were covered in frost, but still holding their heads high.  It is good to have something that performs well at this stage of the season.

One of several interesting natural history stories that has caught my attention this week has been the UK government’s launch of a Natural Environment White Paper discussion document to ask for your views on nature. You can read about it here and take part on line on the DEFRA website here.

The survey takes the form of 4 short questions, which could result in 4 short or 4 very long answers, depending on your enthusiasm and point of view. It may be lip service, but it is an attempt  at engaging in a dialogue about the environment. If you are interested, please note that the closing date for replies is Saturday 30th October. I have given them my two penny worth.