Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pruning in process

John and Judy Horrell and John and Mavis Graham are off to Christchurch to the Ellerslie Flower Show as part of their well-deserved NZ Gardener of the Year prize.

Meanwhile John H asked me to do a quick post here to explain the "heck of a mess" in the Woods at the moment with all the pruning in process... 

John H and helpers from the FNDC are using a new piece of equipment - a chainsaw on a pole - which is fantastic for pruning the trees.  They have been hugely busy, catching up on years of neglect, and you'll see all the prunings lying on the ground - more to come as they work their way around the Woods.

With the warm humid weather the grass and weeds have been "growing like stink" too and so the place is looking, in John's words, "an unholy mess!", but just temporarily...  The next stage is to chip all the prunings up and to use that mulch around the trees, suppressing the weeds and retaining moisture.  John says over the next few months, the place is going to be looking so much better, with the trees in much better shape.

   Still to tackle...

Meanwhile, the naked ladies are flowering, in the swathes of grass and under the trees - here coming up through the piles of prunings.  I'll tell you something funny - of all the posts in this blog, the one with far and away most hits as point of entry is the post titled "Naked ladies at Roland's Wood", but I have a feeling this isn't quite what the searchers had in mind!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Enjoying the Woods with Honey

Here are the Bush and Peacock families with their happy dog Honey

Annabelle giving Honey a scritch on her head 

Annabelle and Leo have fun looking for cicadas - or rather, where cicada nymphs have left their discarded exoskeletons hanging onto tree trunks...



Visit Te Ara - our wonderful online New Zealand encyclopedia - to read more about cicadas.

"In its final moult, the cicada changes from a drab, ground-dwelling nymph to an often colourful, energetic, winged adult. The exoskeleton is entirely shed, including the linings of the breathing tubes, which can often be seen poking out from the cast skin. In areas dense with cicadas, dozens of skins can be seen on tree trunks.

The nymphal skin splits along the back of the thorax and an adult gently emerges and hangs to allow its soft and crumpled wings to be pumped up to their full size. By the next morning the wings are hard enough for the adult to fly away, leaving behind the empty case of the nymph."
From : John Marris. 'Cicadas - Introducing cicadas', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 13-Jul-12 http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/cicadas/page-1 
The posts along the top fence line have HEAPS of cicada shells hanging there...

Monday, February 17, 2014

Dogs without leashes... Poet, Mary Oliver

I've been enjoying the poetry of American poet Mary Oliver, who, in the way of talented poets, expresses ideas or emotions in such carefully, exactly, exquisitely chosen words that they ring true and resonate... 
Mary Oliver is a poet known for "her clear and poignant observances of the natural world" (Wikipedia).  The poem The Summer Day is a wonderful example of her skills of noticing, describing, rejoicing, questionning,

and here, simply put, here is a mantra :

Instructions for living a life.

Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

Mary Oliver loves dogs and her book of poems Dog Songs celebrates her own dogs as well as the joy dogs bring to the lives of any ardent and fond dog owner. There is a post about it at Maria Popover's Brainpicking's blog

Here is one short poem from Dog Songs which made me think of Roland's Wood...  (instead of "holding this book", think "reading this poem")

If you are holding this book 

You may not agree, you may not care, but
if you are holding this book you should know
that of all the sights I love in this world -
and there are plenty - very near the top of
the list is this one : dogs without leashes.

I think Roland would have agreed with that.  

Monday, February 3, 2014

Beech tree burl

I used to think mistakenly that these growths on the trunks of trees were called boles but I've now discovered that bole is the botanical name for the tree trunk (the main wooden axis of a tree says Wikipedia), and that this knotty lump is a burl - or in England a burr.  Sometimes you see beautiful turned bowls made from burr wood with the unusual grain providing intricate patterns.

Here is some good information about burls from T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Burls on trees

Burl (British bur or burr) is a tree growth in which the grain has grown in a deformed manner. It is commonly found in the form of a rounded outgrowth on a tree trunk or branch that is filled with small knots from dormant buds. A burl results from a tree undergoing some form of stress. It may be environmental or introduced by humans. Most burls grow beneath the ground, attached to the roots as a type of malignancy that is generally not discovered until the tree dies or falls over. Such burls sometimes appear as groups of bulbous protrusions connected by a system of rope-like roots. Almost all burl wood is covered by bark, even if it is underground. Insect infestation and certain types of mold infestation are the most common causes of this condition.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Roland's Wood, Sir Terry Pratchett and reading

Another way to visit Roland's Wood - let someone else take the dog around all energetically, and sit and have a moment for a good read... Here's Heather, who has just had a knee operation, making the most of some quiet time to read her book, The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett.

Here is a link to an interview with Sir Terry Pratchett in The Daily Telegraph, speaking movingly of his Alzheimer's diagnosis, but I especially loved his description of his childhood with the various science experiments and his discovery of the pleasures reading...

The Pratchetts were a happy but thrifty family whose idea of a holiday was a week in Lyme Regis with friends. Terry was a forensic sort of boy, fond of expeditioning and experiments. 
“My father encouraged me to do all the Just William things. He was never so pleased as when I electrocuted him by setting up a little device in his shed to give him a shock when he opened the door.”   Crystal sets, astronomy, science… if the boy had a legitimate passion, his parents encouraged it.
He came to reading late, through a chance encounter with The Wind in the Willows. It detonated a love of books “similar to Hiroshima” and his real education began thereafter at the Beaconsfield public library, where he “read like a mowing machine”.