Friday 11 September 2020

The last rose of summer?

Our wanderings along our local walkway have begun to take on a more autumnal feel. It is lovely to see the proliferation of acorns on the young oaks. Rosehips are plentiful, too, and there are still quite a few blackberries; though most of them have gone over, unpicked. Are we the only walkers to have collected a share?

Most poignant, though, was yesterday’s sighting of ‘our’ white rose previously reported upon in these pages. Having bloomed much earlier in the season we were surprised to see it in flower again about a month ago. On that occasion we took some cuttings, and some appear to have taken – but it is really too early to tell

Seeing it in flower again reawakened our affection for the delicate find so, finding a suitable wand still green, I have made some more cuttings. These I am trying in vermiculite although I understand that perlite is a better bet – perhaps there will still be chance to try that medium. I have some on order and will report back in due course

Earlier this week, some newspapers were writing about the prospect of an Indian Summer to rival the wonderful Spring. Looking at the BBC weather forecast, I sense we will find that temperatures will be reasonable and that we have another month or so to both propagate and to plant

These young strawberry plants have really strong roots
Fancy a strawberry?
I have been pleased with my strawberries this year - the new plants have done well. They keep producing more fruit as well as throwing out runners. You can see from the photo how well these have rooted. So, rather than wait for 2021, why not plant now whilst the ground is still warm. These are an excellent Malling variety and will grow away well, giving an early crop next year. Just let me know, I would be pleased for you to have some plants

And don't forget the rhubarb - I still have a couple of plants available. In fact, much of the stock that I have been building up for next Spring is available now if you are interested. You can check the list by clicking on Plants for you (top right of the homepage)

You can see how well the nursery bed is doing in the photo on the right. If you are a new reader (see final item) may I explain how we work? I do not charge for plants. If you like what you get please consider making a donation to Codger's charity page here

By clicking the link you will see that almost £2000 has been donated this year. Every penny goes to the Birmingham City Mission - we make no charges whatsoever and are more than pleased to do this. Our Codger project was kicked off by lockdown and, along the way, we started theblog. This has now settled down to one post each week, usually on a Friday. It seems that we have readers who like to know what we are up to, so ...

Yabba Dabba Doo!
You remember that tree that I brought down two weeks ago (with a bit of help, as we told you)? It was a rowan or mountain ash and had never done well. But I had not realised that it was, in fact, rotting from the inside. When I came to reduce the stump to logs, I noticed that the sapwood was very soft

I probed a bit and soon found that I had a hole that went right through to the roots. As you can see it was just as though I had used a one-inch drill

As I put the bowl (the very bottom part of the stump) in the wheelbarrow I thought a photo might be of interest. It was only later, when looking at the picture, that I spotted the resemblance to a cartoon character. One of the features of age is that odd little things trigger the memory

Eventually, it came back: Yabba Dabba Doo – the Flintstones! 

Do you remember Bernie and Wilma? And – here’s the connection – their pet, Dino (except I could not remember the name). Take a look, can you see him - or, at least his head - in the photograph? Possibly looking rather older than you may remember him. But then, several decades have passed since I first saw Bernie, Wilma and Dino on the back and white telly with our young boys - they were my excuse for following the adventures of the Flintstone family

The usual suspect
Long-term readers will know that our garden has a frequent visitor in the shape of a heron. That should probably be plural - herons; the nearby canals provide both evidence of our industrial heritage and sustenance for our wildlife in an urban area. Since the pond is now rather overstocked, I don't mind the occasional loss a a few small fry. Now and then, though, the attacker takes on more than he (or she) can chew. The damaged fish usually escapes. Sadly, as in this case, the injured the fish does not recover. I no longer use a net for protection - nets look obstrusive and prevent easy pond maintenance. My alternative approach is to provide protected hiding places for the fish. Seems a more natural solution 

Heart of the Black Country
They reckon that Tipton has more canals than Venice. They were constructed throughout the Black Country during the Industrial Revolution and many are still here today although some have been filled in. Many towns claim to be 'at the heart of the Black Country' and Tipton is a contender. But our local towns are so cheek by jowl it hardly matters. Certainly the local dialect remains robustly strong so I was pleased to hear Tipton get several mentions in an half-hour BBC radio broadcast on Sunday. If you like learning about English dialect speech you'll enjoy this programme. You can listen here

Canal - a few minutes down the road from us
I'm not a native speaker myself, but after 55 years living here I can follow pretty well (another five years and I can apply for naturalisation). I found the programme particularly pertinent in that it brought back a warm Black Country memory - sorry, I'm reminiscing again. The programme mentions a comedian and story-teller who lived locally - Harry Harrison, lovely man. He visited our church one occasion. After the service he took me on one side and asked me to pay him a visit at his home. Evidently something he had seen, heard or felt had touched him; "Theer's sommat special 'ere, me mon", he said

When I later went to see him, he showed me a vast collection neckties, selected one and presented me with it. I think that's the closest I'll ever get to receiving a medal. He wrote a lovely follow-up article for the Black Country Bugle but, sadly, Harry died not long after 

Dialect Primer
Incidentally, if you want to follow up more on the local dialect I can point you to a video on YouTube that was filmed at the Black Country Living Museum a couple of years ago by the local ATV news team. You can find it here

What particularly interests me is the link with the way Old English was spoken. For example the numeral 4 (four) is pronounced 'fow-wah' - modern speech has lost the diphthong vowel. Thus Black Country folk can justly boast that, despite the critics, they "spake prapper"!

Mistaken identity
As you know, I enjoy hearing from readers. Rachel White has kindly been in touch. She is more of a wildlife expert that she cares to admit (remember Rachel's froglets? - see photo, right). Her eagle eye has spotted a case of mistaken identity. Her observation has inspired me to put together a short quiz - please see the tailpiece to today's post

More on readers
Many readers follow along for the obvious reason - we share a love of plants and gardening. Many have had plants from me (more available right now!) - it would be great to part with a few more whilst we are still having weather which is perfect for planting

A few readers follow us from a long way afar - for example, old friends now living in Australia who wish to stay in touch. Greg Philander sends lovely photographs of the area in which he and Michelle now live (Beaumaris, Melbourne)

Nearer to home, as you may know, we also often hear from Holland. We have other readers, too. Behind the scenes, Google cleverly does it stuff and tells old Codger something rather surprising: we have a growing number of frequent readers in Hong Kong

I am really pleased to hear this - and more than a little intrigued. As far as I am aware I do not know anyone who lives in Hong Kong. You are very welcome - please get in touch if you feel inclined - add a comment to this blog post if you wish

Over and out (nearly!)
As we draw to a close this week I feel bound to refer to the news that is coming in as I type these very words. Locally, we are being locked down due to the rapid rise in C-19 cases. The big emphasis is on 'household mixing' - we are being told not to visit the homes of other people

Check out Zechariah 8:20-21
Sadly, this comes as no surprise as we been on the Covid watchlist for quite a few weeks now (see previous posts). The new local lockdown measures will affect Codger's personal plans for the week ahead and would, as far as I can see, have prevented him spending last Saturday morning as he did. To explain, a friend had suggested that a few of us who were able should meet together to pray about the serious national situation. So, on Saturday, we met in his home for this express purpose. In issuing this invitation, he aptly quoted the Bible verse in this photo - take look (photo right)

I'm glad I took those four words literally - I myself am going - that won't be possible for a while. Be that as it may, I hope very much that we will be able to use this blog to stay in touch - look towards the end of next week ...

... our very best wishes, the old Garden Codger

Please accept our apologies for holding over the quiz until next week. The news of the local lockdown rather interfered with this afternoon's work plan. Mrs Codger was anxious to take the writer for his walk so, by way of compensation, here are a few photos from our perambulatory excursion ...

That rose again! Now open - the earlier shot was taken yesterday

The nearest reach of the canal arm - no longer navigable

And our own Metro Station (Wednesbury Parkway)

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