Derek – Friday 26th November 2021

It is biting cold, the wind blowing the last leaves off the sycamore. The cherry is already stripped, though the birch, its leaves gone yellow, has still plenty of little flags.

The pond is withered, the iris leaves languid and browning. The papyrus is unhappy this weather, this exiled plant dreaming of the Nile, crocodiles pushing through its three metre brethren.

The pond reminds me of the Keats poem, La Belle Dame Sans Merci.

O, what can ail thee, knight at arms,
Alone and palely loitering;
The sedge has withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.

O, what can ail thee, knight at arms,
So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel’s granary is full,
And the harvest’s done.

 No birds are singing today, though there were blue tits up in the sycamore earlier in the week. They are much easier to see now the leaves have largely gone. This is a desperate time for birds, especially the small ones like tits, robins and sparrows. They stick around over the winter but mortality is high. Feathers are good insulation, but the birds have little bulk to hold in heat. For extra warmth, they huddle together, but food is so important these chilly days as they are warm blooded and so have a high metabolism. The garden puts out bird food, and there are berries around: the coral berry, holly, ivy and the haws of the hawthorn.

There are frogs around the garden, hard to find now they are hibernating under logs and thick ground foliage. Being cold-blooded, their hibernation uses little energy compared to mammals that hibernate. Squirrels can lower their body temperature when in hibernation, but still consume a lot of their body fat, and often come out to find their food store.

Half of the large buddleia has been removed and in its place are various shrubs and trees including forsythia, and a pink magnolia. I am sure the buddleia will come back, but we’ll fight it off.

The most apparent flowers around the garden are marigolds. Their orange-red flouts the seasons, though you need to deadhead them to keep them coming throughout the year.

There are clusters of honey fungus around the posts surrounding the wildflower bed. They don’t like the cold, and wither quickly. The mushroom is the fruiting body of the fungi, with a mass of mycelia in the posts and the soil.

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