In Other News…

Pigeon 001 Wm

Mike has reseeded the area of new lawn reclaimed from the rhododendrons.


Pheasant 016 Wm




Fallen tree 002 Wm


I’d just sat down one evening last weekend when there was an enormous CRAAAAKK! accompanied by a tirade of squawking. Quite strange really because there’d barely been a breath of wind. I can only assume that the weight of recent rain proved the last straw on a tree pummeled throughout winter.


Fallen tree 001 Wm


Closer inspection revealed it was not the healthiest. Although returning to leaf the tree also bears a lot of dead wood. I’d spent a restless night wondering if Ptolemy pheasant had escaped unscathed. He does like to roost in trees down by the river. Thankfully the next day he was back for his breakfast of grass seed, a relief shared somewhat grudgingly in certain quarters.


Mrs W feeding Wm


The woodpeckers appear to be nesting again. Mrs W, a photo from a couple of years back, and her mate have resumed the constant relay to and from the bird feeders. They missed out last year. Wishing them better luck this time around. How marvellous it would be to enjoy sights like these again..


Woodpecker and chick


Woodpecker 015 Wm


For the benefit of the birds and all other wildlife I have managed to persuade Mike to adopt a more environmentally friendly approach to weed control. As ever, a trip to the toy shop did it..


Flame Gun 003 Wm


Mike’s new flame gun.

What is it about boys and fire? He’s very fond of his bonfires too.


Flame Gun 005 Wm


Scorched Earth

The recommendation is to repeat after three days to get any remaining growth and seeds. Our experience suggests it will need still more after that. The weeds are returning although nowhere near as thickly. We shall persevere.


And finally. Summer is just around the corner. Frosty nights are hopefully at an end. The time is right..


The ducks return 002 Wm


Peering over a low spot in a hedge that wasn’t there when they retired for the winter.


Have a very lovely Bank Holiday weekend.


In Other News..

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2017-10-27T09:25:13+00:00May 27th, 2016|Tags: , |


  1. Mark and Gaz May 27, 2016 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    Yay for summer! Lovely images of your garden, even the fallen tree! And wouldn’t mind a blow torch myself…

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 9:07 pm - Reply

      It’s been a lovely day today. Warm at last and not just on account of the flame gun!

  2. Jo May 27, 2016 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    I’m glad for you I think that Ptolemy returned, though the abundance of seed perhaps helped. Boys and their toys indeed. My Mike is still desperate for a chainsaw I’m equally as desperate to ensure he never gets his mitts on one xx

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 9:18 pm - Reply

      Very wise Jo. My heart is in my mouth every time I hear ours fired up.

  3. Marianne May 27, 2016 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    It’s extraordinary how a landscape can go from winter barren to springtime lush. One minute you think you can easily stay on top of the weeding, the next you’ve got a rain forest out there. Good luck!

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 9:23 pm - Reply

      It’s been especially so this year with a cool Spring. Everything was behind for weeks, then suddenly we had a warmer spell and some rain. Whoosh.. the weeds are over a foot high already.

  4. Vera May 27, 2016 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    Lester thought he might plough up a stretch of ground down by the oak tree. He thought that it might be a good idea to plant some wild flower seeds there so we could see a sea of flowers from the courtyard. I didn’t like to say too much. Boys toys…..he loves to do things on his tractor. But open ploughed earth is also an attraction for chickens and birds and any seeds planted would get eaten toute suite. As I say, I didn’t say too much, and quietly hoped that the idea would die a death. Hopefully he will not read your blog this time otherwise he would want one of the flame things as well!

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 9:29 pm - Reply

      The flame thing does seem to be the ultimate boy toy. There have been threats to tackle the weeds in the flower beds as well but I am having none of it.

  5. stephanie young May 27, 2016 at 1:47 pm - Reply

    I am so lucky in one respect….when hubby has that need-to-be-outside-mood strike, he grabs a bucket and pruners and chops things. (Sometimes he ‘prunes’ things to the ground; I’ve bought him pruning books—he doesn’t believe me when I tell him these are living things that like their haircuts to look GOOD, not like a two year old got into the shears). At least he (for the most part) stays off ladders and doesn’t play with dangerous toys. Me, on the other hand…..? I’m loving that blow-torch thingy!!!! Does it get weeds out of bricks??????

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 9:33 pm - Reply

      It probably does, but might discolour the bricks? So far we’ve only used it on a gravelled drive, on the basis that we can always sweep more gravel over any overly scorched bits!

  6. CJ May 27, 2016 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    Glad the tree didn’t cause any damage. Lots of nice dead wood will make the little beasties very happy. Love the new toy. Who wouldn’t like a flame thrower to play with. If we have a dry spell just make sure you have the number for the local fire brigade to hand though.

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      It burns with a very hot and concentrated flame which doesn’t go very far. Not even a flame as such because it’s virtually invisible, more like extremely hot air. Enough to incinerate anything it touches though.

  7. Backlane Notebook May 27, 2016 at 3:32 pm - Reply

    There’s a new toy here which unexpectedly appeals to my husband. It’s a box hedge cutter with the sharpest of teeth and a very efficient re-chargeable (plug into the mains) battery. I’ve had to curb his enthusiasm for two more weeks but gosh the bliss of handing over the chore of clipping the box parterres, balls and cones. And he’ll do it much more thoroughly and neatly than me. I’ve promised I’ll sweep up the leaves and then take him to the pub and buy him a pint !

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 9:47 pm - Reply

      That sounds like a fair deal. Fun toy though, bet it makes short work of the trimming. I’m beginning to see the downside of a lonicera hedge. It’s very fast growing!

  8. FlowerAlley May 27, 2016 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    Hooray for pheasants and fire!! I am glad all is well.

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 9:51 pm - Reply

      The tree fell neatly into an area where it couldn’t have hit anything else. Jammy.

  9. Sue Garrett May 27, 2016 at 5:11 pm - Reply

    I wonder whether there were nests in the I’ll-fated tree?

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 9:53 pm - Reply

      I don’t believe so. It was the first thing I looked for.. after squashed pheasants and deer.

  10. Ann @Ann Edwards Photography May 27, 2016 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    falling trees are always quite dramatic, I think. My husband uses any old excuse to have a bonfire.

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 9:56 pm - Reply

      Same here I’m afraid. There seem to be extra points up for grabs for every day that the bonfire can be kept alight.

  11. Pauline May 27, 2016 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    Glad to read that your woodpeckers are nesting again. The first time we saw a juvenile on the bird feeder, we thought we had a different variety because of the different markings. Your flame gun is amazing, we just have a little one which works off a gas canister!

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 9:58 pm - Reply

      It would be great to see the baby woodpeckers again, so cute chasing each other through the trees.

  12. Linda aka Crafty Gardener May 27, 2016 at 6:24 pm - Reply

    Hope those woodpeckers nest and have babies in your garden. Nice to see the ducks back overseeing things. Enjoy the lovely weather. It is so dry here, fire bans are in effect, and it is hard to get a fork into the ground.

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 10:01 pm - Reply

      I’m having the same problem with the fork, clay soil just bakes rock hard when the temperatures rise.

  13. Rosie May 27, 2016 at 7:22 pm - Reply

    Good job no one was sitting under the tree when it went crack and thak goodness ptolemy is still around. Lovely to see the rusty ducks back in the garden for the summer:)

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 10:04 pm - Reply

      We’ve just altered the course of the paths in that part of the garden. We were now having to walk directly underneath the tree that fell, so lucky it happened as it was getting dark and no-one was outside.

  14. Stella Etherton May 27, 2016 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    I have bird fever envy ! We have stopped feeding the woodpeckers as the squirrels wrecked the feeders . The woodies can’t get into our squirrel proof ones . Yours looks very strong and (possibly ?) squirrel proof !

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 10:11 pm - Reply

      Hi Stella and welcome.
      That feeder has been reinforced so many times it is now more metal than wood. The mesh on the front came from an industrial supplier, so strong they had to cut it to size for us, normal wire cutters don’t touch it. The squirrels do try, and do get bits of nut, but they’ve never managed to wreck it. I dread to think what effect it has on their teeth!

  15. Val May 27, 2016 at 9:52 pm - Reply

    I love your woodpeckers! We have occasional visits from one but it’s very timid and first sight of a camera and it’s off! Lovely post. (Oh and I do adore your rusty ducks.)

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 10:14 pm - Reply

      They are very timid. They don’t come near if we’re out in the garden, just circle all around and then resort to sitting in a tree and chirping loudly. Amazing how guilty that makes you feel.

  16. pollymacleod May 27, 2016 at 11:04 pm - Reply

    ooohh I like that flame gun, I like bonfires too, should I be worried?!!

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 10:36 pm - Reply

      It scares me that flame gun. The mighty roar it makes.

  17. Julieanne May 27, 2016 at 11:15 pm - Reply

    Young woodpeckers – how delightful. I’ve always wondered about flame guns so am curious to see if they will indeed work – good luck Mike!

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 10:40 pm - Reply

      I was amazed to see the weeds come back after being incinerated (twice). I suppose if the roots survive they will. They do seem to be weaker though so next time might just do it.

  18. snowbird May 27, 2016 at 11:40 pm - Reply

    Woodies and seed….sighs! Struth, glad that tree fell were it didn’t do any damage, and glad that Ptolemy is OK, I hope there weren’t any nestlings in the tree. Lucky you having woodpeckers, I’m a little green-eyed.Female woodpeckers are rather pretty gals! Hubs had that flamethrower but it ran out of gas too often for him. Good to see your ducks out

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 10:45 pm - Reply

      The flame gun does get through fuel terrifyingly fast. Apparently it also runs on kerosene (heating oil) if you use that, which is a lot cheaper.

  19. Kris Peterson May 28, 2016 at 1:48 am - Reply

    It’s good to see the ducks back. I’m glad your resident pheasant was unharmed by the tree’s fall (even if he can be a pest).

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 10:49 pm - Reply

      I think we’ve now reseeded three times! But the birds are only interested when the seed first goes down. Once it starts to germinate it seems to lose its appeal.

  20. Indie May 28, 2016 at 2:22 am - Reply

    Yay, the ducks return!! The birds are all so beautiful. And your pheasant is so awesome, even if he is eating the grass seed. My husband would love a torch gun, too. If only I wasn’t afraid he’d light some of my plants on fire too, I’d get him one and set him to work!

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 10:54 pm - Reply

      Plants overhanging the drive are definitely at risk. It’s a bit like those that have the misfortune to stray on to the lawn on mowing day.

  21. Denise May 28, 2016 at 7:10 am - Reply

    Oh, those woodpeckers! Marvellous!! Andy has a fire pit, but is still resisting suggestions from all quarters that we may need a ride on mower to tackle our soon-to-be new garden. He reckons mowing by hand will be as good as a gym work out. We shall see…

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 11:00 pm - Reply

      At least your new garden is relatively flat. The work out here is carrying the mower back up the steps to the shed. It’s a two person job. The trick is to make sure you get the light end i.e. not the motor.

  22. Jayne Hill May 28, 2016 at 7:49 am - Reply

    We never had a complete tree go over but one day I did lose a huge leylandii branch; staggering the noise it makes.
    Very glad there were no significant casualties at yours (and aren’t you glad the trees behind the house have gone . . . )

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 11:02 pm - Reply

      Extremely glad those trees have gone. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

  23. derrickjknight May 28, 2016 at 9:04 am - Reply

    More lovely photos and amusing text

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 11:02 pm - Reply

      Thanks Derrick.

  24. Sam May 28, 2016 at 9:10 am - Reply

    My husband is already of the slash-and-burn persuasion, so I’m not showing him this! (Good solution, though.) Fingers crossed for the woodpeckers. Hope you have a good bank holiday weekend, too. The forecast here is for heavy rain on Monday – it’s the day of our village fair… Sigh.

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 11:05 pm - Reply

      Oh no! But the weather forecast may change. Fingers crossed.

  25. Tangly Cottage May 28, 2016 at 9:31 am - Reply

    A client once set his bark mulch afire with one of those flame weeders. Fortunately, we were there to point out that his woodsy area was smoldering! I think it is a great idea to use the environmentally kind technique. Ann Lovejoy wrote to be sure to walk backward not forward into the hot area 😉

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 11:09 pm - Reply

      Eeek.. It must be easy to do. Thus far I have managed to restrain activity to a gravel driveway where there should be minimal collateral damage. I hope..

  26. sustainablemum May 28, 2016 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Trees make quite a noise when they fall over don’t they, the sound always fills me with dread after an episode in a wood after a particularly windy storm with a group of children and a falling tree (we were all safe). I think I need one of those flame guns for the grass that grows in my paths, some paths are more grass than pavoirs! How is the garlic concoction doing these days?

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 11:24 pm - Reply

      It’s six days since I sprayed with the garlic and so far so good! I’ll go over everything again tomorrow I think, this time of year the plants are so vulnerable with their tender young leaves. Falling trees make a heck of a noise and you can feel the earth vibrate. Having said that Mike, in the kitchen watching TV, was oblivious.

  27. Linda P. May 28, 2016 at 11:37 am - Reply

    The sudden dramatic incident with the tree must have been rather scary. Will you leave it where it fell? For once I’m sure you were pleased to see Ptolemy! It’ll be good to have woodpeckers around again. Waiting to hear more on the fight to deter the slugs with the garlic solution! I’ve told Mr. P about it, The flame thrower – what a good idea for the Italian weeds growing in the cracks in the cement in the drive way and courtyards! Have a good weekend, not doubt gardening. How’s your ankle doing?.

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 11:32 pm - Reply

      The tree has already gone. Mike chopped it up then had a huge bonfire (!). We already have masses of wood and hauling it up the hill would have been a herculean task. Ankle is holding up, thanks, but it still manages to remind me when I’ve done too much!

  28. bittster May 28, 2016 at 11:59 am - Reply

    Oh I love flame weeders, so rewarding and fun. -it really must be a male chromosome thing
    And I apologize for laughing at your ‘ground feeding station’. Pigeon and Ptolemy both look quite content and I’ve been in the same position many times here as well when the wildlife moves in.

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 11:34 pm - Reply

      They look content and they look well fed! Pigeon bends branches when he attempts to land these days.

  29. Sigrun May 28, 2016 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    Thats nature – the birds eat the seeds. Be carfull with your husband, that he not burn down the house! Sigrun

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 11:35 pm - Reply

      I have been keeping a very close eye on him, don’t worry!

  30. Alison May 28, 2016 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    Nice shots of the birds! Nigel has one of those flame guns too, for burning weeds. Ours is out of fuel, but we plan to try and fire it up over the long weekend.

    • Jessica May 28, 2016 at 11:37 pm - Reply

      It does get through a large amount of fuel. Not entirely environmentally friendly but a lot better than the alternative.

  31. Brenda May 29, 2016 at 1:53 am - Reply

    How exciting to have nesting woodpeckers. We appear to have a mating pair of Northern Flickers calling to each other across our driveway every afternoon. I’m hoping they will nest nearby.

    • Jessica May 29, 2016 at 10:23 pm - Reply

      Lovely. Flickers are related to woodpeckers aren’t they?

  32. Linda May 29, 2016 at 1:58 am - Reply

    My husband’s is a bit different but he is also using a flaming tool on the weeds in our gravel paths. I guess it is better than chemicals, but still seems scary to me.

    • Jessica May 29, 2016 at 10:26 pm - Reply

      We’d (he’d) tried hand weeding of the drive but it’s impossible to keep up. The flame gun was a compromise over chemicals. But yes, it scares me too.

  33. Jo May 29, 2016 at 11:29 am - Reply

    Glad everyone and everything escaped unscathed when the tree fell. How lovely it would be if you had woodpeckers nesting, I have one of those feeders which attaches to the window and there’s been a starling visiting lately with her two babies, one perched on either side and mum in the middle picking up the titbits and feeding each one in turn, it’s been lovely to watch.

    • Jessica May 29, 2016 at 10:32 pm - Reply

      Oh, that would have been wonderful to watch. Amazing to have starlings coming so close to the house. I really miss starlings, they don’t visit us at all.

  34. casa mariposa May 29, 2016 at 10:26 pm - Reply

    I want a flame gun! Lucky you! I hope all the birds escaped the tree collapse but at least it didn’t fall on any structures or the garden. Our neighbors have a big dead tree that is leaning precariously over our garden that needs to come down soon soon soon.

    • Jessica May 29, 2016 at 10:42 pm - Reply

      The odd thing is there was nothing happening to prompt this one’s fall. Makes me wonder how many other trees are in such a precarious state. Dead trees really do need to go.

  35. Wendy May 29, 2016 at 10:35 pm - Reply

    The baby woodpeckers are very cute. I hope they’re successful this year. I hope your visiting birds give the grass seed a chance. We have exactly the same situation here where we’ve seeded a large area – and we’re now watching all the local wildlife treat it as dinner.

    • Jessica May 29, 2016 at 10:48 pm - Reply

      I think Mike has now reseeded it three times, with a little extra each time for ‘sharing’. But in spite of everything the grass is growing and we (I) have had the pleasure of watching all the birds. Can’t be bad.

  36. Marian May 31, 2016 at 10:05 am - Reply

    Lovely post again Jessica! Your words always make me smile. Wonderful photos to accompany your words again as well!

    • Jessica May 31, 2016 at 5:29 pm - Reply

      Thanks Marian. I hope you are enjoying the same warm weather that we are!

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