Jan 052016
2015 - a stay at home year

Despite having over a dozen overseas places on my ‘must visit’ list, 2015 was a year in which I stayed on these shores, unless you count the Channel Islands as abroad. Although outside of the United Kingdom, I don’t regard our annual holiday in Herm as a trip overseas. Holidays Apart from a day trip to Llandudno in April, my first holiday was a repeat trip to the Outer Hebrides, this time on an organised rail and coach trip. The last time I was in the Hebrides, Sandra and I flew there and drove the length of the Isles from Barra to Stornaway. [Read more]

Oct 292014
Improving the front of the house

When we moved in to Bracken House six years ago, the gardens were unsightly and tatty, while the land surrounding the gardens was overgrown and full of weeds. After a year of ‘seeing what comes up’ we decided to get in a team of landscape gardeners who ripped up the old borders and lawns and transformed the gardens. The work on the gardens and adjacent meadows was completed in early summer 2010 and I then tried to maintain the gardens myself. After four years of struggling, I decided that I wanted to sit back and enjoy the garden, and not spending all [Read more]

Jul 112014
Stock Dove added to list of identified birds

The stock dove has become the 39th bird species positively identified at Bracken House since we began recording early in 2010. Easily mistaken for other types of pigeon, a pair of stock doves were noted feeding on the ground today (July 11th 2014). It is quite likely that the bird has been a regular visitor to Bracken House, but has been overlooked due to its similarity to other birds in the pigeon family. Stock doves are widely distributed in the UK, except for parts of northern Scotland and Ireland, with particularly high densities in the Midlands and South West. Over [Read more]

Apr 302014
The robin - a gardener's companion

Whenever I am working in the garden, I almost always have a robin as my companion. They are very tame birds and are always the first to visit when I fill the bird feeders each day. Recently, one of the main tasks I had to do was weeding and hoeing the flower borders. Within a few minutes of starting, a robin joined me, often only a couple of feet away. He occasionally had a look in the wheelbarrow to see if I had thrown in a grub or earthworm. At this time of year, the robin can often be seen with a mouthful of [Read more]

Apr 182014
Removing four years of grime

For the last couple of months, there have been very few new posts on the site. The main reason for this inactivity is that it’s the time of year when the garden and meadows need to be tidied up, weeded and generally transformed back into something to be proud to show visitors around. Apart from cutting the paddocks, tracks and paths, as well as preparing the vegetable patch for the new season, by far the biggest job has been the jet-washing of the patio. This is no normal sized patio, and the size of it is partly the reason it [Read more]

Feb 132014
Despite the storms, Spring is beginning to appear

The Winter of 2013/4 has been the wettest and windiest so far experienced at Bracken House, but despite the record-breaking weather, Spring is showing definite signs of returning. Despite the flooded fields and waterlogged flower borders, spring bulbs have already poked through the mud. Snowdrops are in flower under the hedges, with crocuses, tulips and daffodils likely to be in flower in a couple of weeks. In the meadows, wild primroses have been flowering for two or three weeks now, adding some welcomed colour to the grassy areas. The wildlife too is sensing the return of Spring. The wood pigeons, [Read more]

Jan 232014
Preparing for Spring

With over 50 trees in the gardens of Bracken House, preparing them for the new growing season is a time-consuming task. The trees are a mixture of fruit trees and native trees. Each of these trees has now been pruned, had weeds cleared from their bases and had protectors placed around their trunks to prevent damage. 2013 was an excellent growing season, and the trees, which have been planted for almost four years, are beginning to fill out. The laurel hedge surrounding the car park is also thickening nicely and will need a light trim before the main growing season [Read more]

Nov 162013
Much work needed on wildflower meadow

When I had the landscaping work done at Bracken House, one area I was keen to create was a wildflower meadow. I have always liked wildflower meadows of all types, especially buttercup meadows, poppy fields and fields of annuals creating different colours as each variety started to bloom. The area next to the paddocks, between the pond and the grazing fields, is the area I have set aside for wildflowers. It is now three years since the landscaping project was completed and the wildflower meadow is nowhere near to what I had in mind. The main problem I have met [Read more]

May 292013
Rhubarb and asparagus make welcome return to table

Despite the very cold Spring, the plants in the garden at Bracken House are finally starting to catch up. After five months of below average temperatures, plants have been very slow to burst into leaf and flower, but they are now showing signs of catching up. In the vegetable patch, everything is now sown and planted. Asparagus has already been harvested, and lettuce and radish will soon be ready. The peas have disappointed so far, but a few new plants and more seed sowing should have sorted that out. Some of the sweet corn has also been replaced. In the [Read more]

Dec 082011

There’s always something happening at Bracken House. Today, we had a young Staffordshire Bull Terrier running loose on the land. She wanted to play with the ponies and the chickens. She even had a dip in the pond. I managed to catch her and took her for a walk behind the nursing home to see if her owner was looking for her, but it was raining and blowing a gale and there was no-one to be found. I put her in one of the stables and telephoned the Ashfield District Council stray dogs line. To my amazement, the dog warden [Read more]

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