Lots of lovely books are arriving for The Nature Table. This week the first three in a new series of reprints from the Collins Nature Library of some of the classics of nature writing, chosen and with introductions written by who other than our new best friend Robert Macfarlane..
This is a going to a very covetable series with linen-bound covers and subtle colouring that sets off a photo perfectly. The first titles are Nature Near London by Richard Jefferies, Adventures Among Birds by W.H.Hudson and A Land by Jacquetta Hawkes. More on these soon.
Also in the postbox, Otter Country- In Search of the Wild Otter by Miriam Darlington to be published by Granta in September.
Miriam Darlington travels around the country from her home in Devon as she tracks the elusive otter, taking in Tarka and Ring of Bright Water lands too, and I just can't wait to read this one.
But plenty of Nature Table on the doorstep as well.
Going away and coming home and everything looks so different, which seems so obvious but never ceases to surprise me, and with an excess of rain soon we won't be able to get in or out of the front door. Yet for all the wet it also feels like a heart-swelling England's Green and Pleasant Land at its fullest and most majestic tilt...
You may recall the apparently deceased escallonia hedge, well it has now definitely staged a resurrection of miraculous proportions given the network of dead twigs we had looked at for so long, though much of what you can see here might be weeds. We have put it down to those two very hard winters in succession but came very close to grubbing the whole thing up (all hundred or so feet of it) when it was as its most skeletal.
I have Richard Mabey's book Weeds - the Story of Outlaw Plants waiting to be read and I am slightly comforted to read of these 'indomitable, opportunist plants that thrive best where we want them least' because we live alongside them and please the butterflies rather than spend hour after hour pulling them all up. It would be a thankless and frankly hopeless task.
I was listening to Gardener's Question Time the other day and someone was about to blitz his encroaching ground elder problem with spraying. Good luck mate I thought, we'd lose the entire garden if we even tried and all we can hope is that everything else swamps it each year, which actually it does.
We are working towards the National Weed Collection and can't be many species away from taking the honours, but a lot of them are really lovely to look at... how about these Angie Lewin-esque umbrels (which you can just see towering over everything else in the picture of the front garden above)
and the flies seem to adore them, which in turn stops them coming indoors...
But we have had a very different year on the nesting bird front. So used are we to the arrival of the swallows, who quickly scare away the winter birds and make themselves at home for the duration in their nest over the front door, that we weren't prepared for the winter birds' defence of their territory. They had clearly been planning an attacking gambit this year and a combined force of sparrow, wren, blackbird and goldcrest saw off the immigrants and have then all nested harmoniously in very close and peaceful proximity to each other and barely a foot from the front door.
We happened to be home for blackbird fledging day, this one perched right by the door while it thought about lift-off....
Currently we can hear baby sparrows and wrens twittering away gently every time we step out and meanwhile the swallows are staging a bit of a come-back, but to an old nest they seem to be renovating.
We watch and wait but I'll bet the wrens will be having none of it.
Somehow the rabbits seem to know that the Gamekeeper has moved out and taken his weaponry with him, so for the first time since we have lived here we now have rabbits in the garden, and we quite like them as there are only about four. Next week when there are about forty-four we may not be so keen but at least they are helping with the greenery. The baby bunnies are out along the lane by the nursery-load and, as yet, not in the least bit scared of humans.
And lovely pockets of wild honeysuckle along the lane too, the scent is glorious..
And while I have you there...
So tell me... what's nature doing over your way??