Friday, 30 September 2011

The horse-chestnut tree and its conkers.

Conkers is a traditional English children's game,  players using the seeds of the horse-chestnut tree.  The tree was introduced to England from the Balkans in the late 16th century, and the first recorded game of conkers was on the Isle of Wight in 1848. There are now yearly conker championships in Oundle Northhamptonshire in October, also in Ireland in Kilkenny.  

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Pentatomodoidea, the shield bug ... the stink bug.

Pentatomodoidea. Under this super family there are 7000 species divided into 14 to 15 families. The shield bug is  sometimes called the stink bug because it uses a foul smelling liquid to deter potential predators.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Autumn flowers, pale mauve asters.

A sign  of Autumn. The star like flowers of the aster in shades of pale mauve to purple and deep pink appear in the garden in Autumn just as the flowers of Summer are beginning to wane. Bees and butterflies enjoy them and they are truly joyous to behold.

Friday, 23 September 2011

French windfall apples.

A variety of windfall apples, some for eating and some for cooking. These apples would be unacceptable in a super market, just too varied in shape, and with various blemishes that wouldn't suit the 'perfect' specimens they insist on selling.  In fact,  these misshapen marked apples taste best. 

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Quince and apples in a Scottish bowl

Quince make wonderful jam and jelly, and have a beautiful smell. They are an ancient fruit,  a cross between an apple and a pear, but are uncommon in peoples gardens these days. These quince grew in a French garden.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Molehills in a French field.

Molehills in a  French field.

Moles are attractive mammals with velvety black fur. They have extremely powerful paws for digging and these have  an extra thumb. Their tiny ears and eyes are almost invisible. Moles eat mainly earthworms which they can store for later consumption.
It is told that William III of England died in 1702 of pneumonia as a result of an accident when he broke his collar bone after falling from his horse after it tripped on a molehill! Molehills generally occur  in lines following the route of the burrow, and are a particularly good source of fine soil to use as potting compost.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

A beautiful French cat Fortune hunts amongst the beams of an old barn.

This is a French cat called Fortune.  She doesn't catch birds APPARENTLY, though she's climbed up, just to get a good look from on high? A cat may look at a king I suppose. Her eyes are magnificent completely surrounded with black kohl pencil!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Hydrangeas in a French jug.

Hydrangeas are a popular ornamental plant with up to 75 species,  by far the majority coming from Eastern Asia - China, Japan, and Korea. This is a hydrangea macrophylla  and has large mophead flower clusters. The jug is  provincial French, circa 1820. 
This is a painting by Tessa Bennett.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Rare apple varieties growing in the fields of France.

Apples growing in France on trees that are more than 100 years old. Probably rare varieties, they are not quite ripe yet but humans and animals can take advantage of windfalls. When picked in due course these apples can be laid on wooden trays and kept throughout Winter,  then eaten bit by bit until March next year.

Friday, 2 September 2011

A wren's nest found in a rose bush.

A tiny wren's nest, lined with  hair from the pony who lives in the next door field.  Wrens like to make their nests in strange  places often hanging. This nest  was found in the centre of a bushy rosa rugosa , a small rose twig is woven into it.
This nest will be replaced in case the wren wants to use it again next year.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Yorkshire terriers come to France, Gaspar and Gontrond.

Two miniature three month old Yorkshire terriers named after two ancient French kings Gontrond and Gaspard!  Big characters for tiny dogs .
These dogs are very popular in France, probably more popular now than poodles. They are affectionate,  like company,  and fit in well with their owners routine,