Friday, 11 November 2011

Roses, dogs and fungi

 Marcia is on her way to Waterstones in Truro for her last signing assignment. Chris Smale represents Transworld in the west country and is driving her down. Even so I expect her to be on her knees when she returns.
The sky over Dartmoor just before we sat down to breakfast was delightful. Unfortunately, when it was time for Marcia to leave for Truro the sky was a dreary uniform grey from which a cold mean rain was falling.

Generally the signings have been a huge success. Last Saturday morning Marcia and Chris were in Plymouth and the signing there was followed by a wild dash to Exeter through very heavy traffic. Even though Chris knows all the available short cuts the journey took so long that there was no time to stop for any lunch. Her intake on this trip seems to have been two cups of coffee and one croissant: one way of keeping the weight down!

There are always high spots during these signings. Two in particular stand out. Once Marcia returned complete with a bunch of roses brought in as a ‛thank you’ by one reader whilst another brought in her dog. ‛I just knew you would want to meet him.’ He was, by all accounts, a very nice dog and Marcia was delighted to be introduced to him.

You will not be surprised to learn that there has not been time this week for us to go anywhere or do anything very much. There are, however, a few things to report from the home front.

Our pheasants have completely disappeared. Most years whichever male it is that has decided to make the garden ‛his’ during the breeding season hangs around through the winter eating great quantities of expensive corn. Not this year. The sadness is tinged with the pleasant thought that the bird feed costs are much reduced.

Last winter we had male blackbirds constantly squabbling just outside the kitchen and one very tame female not above hammering on the door when she felt it was time for a handful of raisins. They always disappear for a while late February or early March but then usually return with the young once they have flown. Not his year, but for the last couple of days there have been three very nervous males dropping in only to fly off at the slightest hint of movement. We shall have to see how that goes.

Two new arrivals are two species of fungi that we have never seen before in the garden. How have they arrived? How long have they been lurking under the ground? I have no idea. I think they are rather jolly and I have used one of these photographs on my laptop desktop so as to brighten up my day.
Fungi is not my strong point but I am reasonably certain that this is Peziza aurantia otherwise known as orange-peel fungus. If it is then it is not only edible but delicious but I have so little faith in my identification that I won't be having it for lunch.
Definitely Marasmius oreades or the fairy-ring champignon.Although not poinonous (unlike Cliticybe rivulosa which often grows alongside it) I understand to be somewhat tasteless. Let me know if you think I am wrong.
I have decided to buy some ‛plant root trainers’ and to sow some sweet peas and runner beans in them. I had heard of these only recently but it does seem to be a good idea. Essentially they are are very deep but quite small plastic tubes and the idea is that they ‛train’ the roots to grow longer than usual and avoid the risk of them compacting into a tight ball. ‟Roots! ‛Shun!″ I shall keep you posted.