Sunday, 11 November 2012

Oak leaf falling

BRIGHT sunshine and a gentle breeze on an autumn Sunday equals time to get the camera out.  The oak, beech and birch trees were stunning today.  I wanted to capture leaf fall, and although I did not have much time, managed a few shots.

With a little bit of whizzedry I have managed to get this interesting effect showing this single oak leaf as it fell to the ground - note that this is a composite image - not just one where I have stuck an oak leaf in 5 places on the image to make it look like its fallen... ;-) :

And here is the majestic tree from which it came...

Some other leaf fall...


Saturday, 10 November 2012

Pond Life 2012

I have always wanted a pond - well ever since I had a garden anyway - and this spring I decided that digging one was a great way of avoiding having to paint the hall!  We live on limestone and our patch is on a slight slope; in fact its amazing how a little incline can cause a whole heap of extra effort.  There was a couple of broad brick steps spanning the garden when we inherited it, and this is where I chose to sink the 6 ft by 6ft hole.  Digging down a few feet meant removing lots of old concrete, broken bricks, topsoil and limestone rubble.  I would think that about a tonne was removed.  Some of it has be distributed about the garden, but most is still sitting behind the shed.

I did have some issues, such as avoiding our rowan tree roots - this involved a very delicate surgical removal of soil between the roots, digging under them then relaying them at a greater depth.

I used sand to smooth our the rocky bottom of hole and a black liner to make it water tight - this is surprisingly expensive so I did not go for the rubber version.  A two-deep, brick surround, topped off with terracotta tiles, was built where it was required to create height around the edge.  I managed to get the bricks from our garden and a friend.  The tiles were from a salvage yard.   I dug it with a two foot depth and sloping slides.  In additon I lined the edges with peddles to provide texture and some hiding places.  There will not be any fish introduced to the pond as they would eat the other inhabitants that I am trying to encourage.

Once ready, I bought (and was given) plants (lillies, pond weed, irises, mint, sedges etc.)  and pond water.  I also "borrowed" a sample of pond water from some other sources to help build up the mini-critter fauna, such as plankton, tadpoles and dragonfly larva.  The pond was filled with mains water, which took a few weeks to clear of the usual added chlorine.

How the garden looked when we bought the house 5 years ago

And I was totally amazed...almost straight away two smooth newts turned up, plus three frogs - goodness only knows where they came from.  Also the pond skaters were quick to find the new pond and stayed all summer.  Snails have been plentiful, brought in on the plants.  By dipping the pond I know that there were loads of baby newts and dragonfly larva in August.  The former have disappeared, but the dragonflies are still present and will remain in the pond over winter.

A few adult dragonflies certainly visited the pond during the summer.  The male newt died for some reason, but I think that the female must have been pregnant.

I can't wait to see how it matures and what else turns up next year...!