Walktober 2018

I first heard of this meme last autumn via Eliza, but I was too late to take any photos to join in. So this year I was prepared!

Hosted by Robin at Breezes at Dawn, this is a challenge to share a walk you have taken in the beautiful month of October. Since October is probably my favourite month of the year, and this October has been particularly beautiful in many ways, I am happy to share a walk with you that we have been taking regularly over the past few weeks with our dog, Gina. Once the heat of summer subsided in September we started exploring new territory to find a longer walk nearby and found this lovely loop that takes us about an hour. Unless we dawdle. Or meet someone to stop and chat with!

We start off by walking down from our house to the cycle path, but turn off as soon as we can to avoid ‘traffic’ and take this track parallel to the path…

 

It opens out onto this spectacular view…

We pass this oak that fell in the September storm. It has been partially removed, but the huge canopy remains, slowly drying up. So sad to see such an old tree uprooted. Perhaps the dry summer had weakened it.

We walk across the meadow with berries in the hedgerow…

… and look back across the path. We always walk this way late afternoon and the golden sunshine highlights the colours of the trees…

To our left, a small pond lies behind these trees. The sun is lower now…

Then we cross the path and encounter this wild bee garden that is clearly tended with loving care…

The bee house is home to several colonies of bees and is buzzing, even so late in the day and late in the season.

The next part of the walk is shady, and we speed up a bit to keep warm, but I stop to admire the wild asters…

… and the autumn leaves strewn across the footpath (do you see Gina’s ears?!)…

… as well as this large Euonymus tree/shrub…

… and this lovely old apple tree groaning under the weight of a bumper crop…

Passing an old farmhouse, this tree next to the outbuilding catches my eye.  A lovely old lime tree (Linden) with two smaller ones behind it…

We also see a lot of Sumac, an invasive species here but such gorgeous colour in autumn. The German name ‘Essigbaum’ – vinegar tree – refers to the apparent use of its fruit for making vinegar… I have never heard of anyone making it here though.

A brief steep climb away from the village we have passed brings us out on to the top of the world. Well, not quite, but it feels like it! I stop for a breather. Winter wheat has been planted here and is already making the fields look a little green again.

Now we are back down in the woods – dark fir trees to our left, but still some colour from beech and oak.

Did I mention what a great year it has been for acorns? We have been crunching them underfoot since August and they are still dropping from the trees.

Finally I spot this fungus and consider it worth a shot, although it is quite dark in these woods.

Then we cross the little brook that runs alongside the cycle path and we are almost back to where we started. Just one more short uphill stint and we are home and ready for our dinner!

I hope you enjoyed our walk. Why not share a picture or two of one you have taken this month and put a link on Robin’s page by the 28th. Thank you to Robin for hosting!

In a Vase on Monday: Frost and sunshine

This morning it was white when I raised the blinds and peered out of the window…. no, not snow, thank goodness, but a sparkling white frost!

Luckily I picked some of the last flowers from the meadow yesterday so I could join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden with a vase. Yellow and white, depicting the frost and sunshine I woke up to. 🙂

Do visit Cathy to see what she and others around the world are finding in their gardens today.

Hope your week brings you some October sunshine!

 

In a Vase on Monday: Evening Posy

Monday is the day Cathy at Rambling in the Garden invites us to join her in putting flowers from our gardens (or near vicinity) in a vase. After a long absence I am pleased to join her and all the other Monday vase creators this week. A very hot and dry summer, coupled with long absences from my garden, made vases almost impossible this summer. But the cooler nights and shorter days – as well as a good rain last week – have worked wonders.

On the way back from the evening dog walk I picked a few wild flowers from the edge of the pathway near our garden. When I got home, one man and his dog needed feeding, so dinner took priority, but my Man of Many Talents kindly took over the photography before the evening sunshine disappeared below the trees.

I think he did a pretty good job, don’t you?

Pink and white clover, tiny harebells, Scabiosa, fleabane, autumn hawkbit/dandelion and Linaria.

Hope you are getting some of this lovely September sunshine this week!

In a Vase on Monday: A Meadow in May

I love joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden every Monday as she invites us to pick materials from our gardens for a vase.

This weekend has been spent at our country house, so the flowers are wild flowers from the meadows and land around us. A strong breeze on Sunday made the grasses come alive, and the textures tempt you to reach out your hands and stroke them.

I have no idea of the identity of all these wild grasses – a project for a winter evening perhaps! The flowers included are moon daisies, ‘Ragged Robin’ (Silene/Lychnis flos cuculi), white campion (Silene latifolia) and red clover, along with cow parsley of course. There were a few pale mauve campanulas in the meadow too, but I didn’t pick any as most had gone over what with the heat and wind. The Achillea and Scabious will be opening soon as well.

I brought along some peonies from home too, to enjoy their scent indoors – their season is so short this year so I must make the most of them!

 

In fact they started off in the green vase, which I then swapped over and used for the wild flowers…

 

 

 

Have a good week!

🙂

 

Mast Year 2018

I mentioned in a post recently that we have a lot of pollen this spring. (Understatement of the year!) Well, I have since learned that not only has everything flowered at once due to our warm April – the warmest on record since 1881 in Germany – but it is also a so-called mast year for birches, spruce and firs in our region.

A mast year is basically a year when certain types of tree in a whole region produce much more pollen and thus far more seeds than in a normal year. Birches do this regularly – every second year – while other trees such as oak or spruce only do this every 4-8 years.

Our silver birches, swaying in the wind

Trees generally use their energy for putting on growth in non-mast years. But in a mast year something triggers them to put all their strength into preserving themselves and to produce as much seed (and hence pollen in spring) as possible. This can apparently be seen in the rings when a tree is cut, with intermittent rings of very little growth. The trigger may be a warm spring, drought or other factors such as the North Atlantic oscillation. In other words, climate change affects tree ‘behaviour’. But what fascinates me is that, for example, practically every Spruce tree in the whole of Germany has started pumping out the pollen, whether in the far north, the Alps, the Black Forest or the Bavarian Forest. Clever. 😉

Spruce, only just showing signs of fresh green

Just looking across our valley at the hillsides around us recently it suddenly became clear to me that the Spruce, Firs, and probably many other conifers have joined the birch this year – the trees are gold and brown instead of green, with little fresh growth and millions of flowers and cones forming on their branches. Perhaps you can see what I mean from this photo taken yesterday where the conifers are all much darker than the fresh deciduous trees in full leaf…

In fact, when I walked around the garden and took a closer look I could see our Norway Spruce, Douglas Fir, Silver Fir, Austrian Pine and other conifers I cannot identify are all going mad this spring!

Douglas Fir, with fresh shoots just beginning to show

One article I read quoted a botanist suggesting the conifers are suffering from several dry years in a row, and this is a self-preservation measure should they die. A grim thought. While looking for more information on this phenomena I found myself engulfed in the technical jargon of meteorologists and botanists. But it was interesting to find out just why we are experiencing so much pollen this spring!

Have you ever heard of mast years or experienced the same where you live?