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We need to go foraging, to find some bits and pieces with which to decorate the house.


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 You’ll need to watch your step. The wood is still littered with fallen branches and trees. A carpet of leaves conceals animal burrows and uneven ground. And then there are the ivy runners that trail out across the woodland floor. Trip wires for the unwary. It’s an atmospheric morning though, with the valley shrouded in mist.


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I was after holly berries, but it doesn’t look like we’re in for much luck. There are several thickets of holly like this one but, so far, not a single berry to be seen. Didn’t I read somewhere you need to have trees of both sexes to get them? Maybe that’s the problem.


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On the way through the wood we’ll pass the old duck pond. It’s the only infinity edge duck pond I know, built out over a mound of earth and overlooking the river below. No wonder it leaks. Down at the river level the mud will suck you in like quicksand. It’s where I hope to establish a bog garden one day.


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If you ever doubted how damp it really gets in Devon, take a look at these ferns. They are growing on the surface of a tree branch, some 15 feet up in the air.


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But here is an interesting discovery. Holly berries, dropped on the ground. At some point then, they were growing on the trees. Growing long enough to ripen. Could the birds really have stripped all those branches bare, before I’d even noticed that the berries were there?

Perhaps this year I’ll try something different with the Christmas decorations. Minimal.


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A few Ivy flowers..


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Buds from the Skimmia bush..


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Perhaps do something with these Cotoneaster berries too.

Watch this space.


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At last the sun is breaking through, strong enough to evaporate the moisture on the roof.

At least, I hope that’s what it is..


We’ve almost reached the top of the hill now. Standing beside the oil tank, I’m reminded of what happened this time last year. But after an hour and a half of battling through the undergrowth, will we find any holly berries at all?


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