In recent days there has been a bit of a coup over in the crab apple at the top of the garden. Mama Blackbird has staked her claim to the crop. In fact the other morning I caught her seeing off the male blackbird in a most aggressive manner. No quarter given there then. He went off in a fluster.
Back in early December it was he who was King of the Crab Apples. There had been no frost or snow to soften the fruit, and he was finding the going tough, adopting a fencer’s lunging stroke to slice off shreds of fruity flesh. Once in a while he’d (accidently) end up with a whole mini-apple wedged in his beak, too hard to scrunch in one pincer movement. Next would come a rapid descent to the garden path to sort himself out. Once or twice I thought he was in danger of choking, and wondered what the procedure might be – to unchoke a blackbird. But then he hopped back on the fence and, if birds can cough, he coughed a few times and returned to lunging.
And so now all is clear. There was naturally a very good reason why Mama Blackbird was biding her time, waiting for wintery weather to make easy pickings of the apples .
Apple Sorbet on a stalk. Mine! All mine! says Mama Merle.
Square Up #7
On Saturday night we had high winds and deluge. Rain pounded the roof-lights for hours. The gale buffeted about the cottage. Today we woke to eerie stillness, the sort that only comes with snow.
For the last couple of days this male blackbird has been tucking into our garden crab apples. He has a technique. Using his beak like a dagger, he jabs downwards with great vigour, slicing off morsels. Sometimes, though, he ends up with a mouthful he cannot swallow, which then requires a descent to the garden path where sets about cutting the apple down to size. All part of the morning’s seasonal entertainment at the Farrell establishment.
Lens-Artists: ‘A’ This week Patti asks us for subjects that start with the letter ‘A’.
It does seem perverse to photograph the guerrilla garden’s very colourful crab apples in monochrome. I anyway didn’t much care for the result. Then I started tweaking the exposure and contrast in my editing programme and thought that this was quite an interesting ‘take’ for Cee’s challenge this week of circles and curves. And then I had a look at the photos I’d taken of the dewy grass over in the field – some very gentle curves and glittery droplets, blue or sepia tinted. Pleasing, I thought.
Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: circles and curves
This morning with the sun on their faces the crab apples seemed to glow like tiny lanterns. I’ve noticed that as the temperature drops so their colour deepens to a rosy gold. Not that they will last much longer. The blackbirds have been busy foraging. Better enjoy them while we can then.
Time Square #19
Who would have thought – November and a clear blue sky – a perfect backdrop for Evereste crab apples and a few sprays of Verbena bonariensis.
First: the bad press. Lately I have been finding myself increasingly infuriated by the partial reporting and drip-drip narratives that the UK and US mass media have been turning out on matters of international importance. War mongering is the name of the game, and you will find it now in the broadcasts of once respectable and respected organs of communication. When governments and the press start scape-goating on the scale we are now seeing, we need to ask in whose interests they are actually acting; as in: who benefits?
But there is only so much fury one can take, so I’m turning my attention to crab apple blossom. And also to initiatives by people who are intent on making our human jungles into life-enhancing environments rather than wiping life off the face of the planet. On BBC’s Gardener’s World last week there was a feature on Milan’s Bosco Verticale – the arboreal tour de force (in all senses) by architect Stefano Boeri. You can find out all the ins and outs of the enterprise at Bosco Verticale.
One of the primary aims, apart from the provision of green high-density housing, was to reduce pollution levels in Milan. But of course – introduce vegetation and there are all manner of benefits – increase in biodiversity, and the creation of beautiful living spaces in places where you least expect to find them. Trees in the air – how wonderful is that. And in case you’re wondering why the crab apple intro, then crab apple trees are included in the planting of the Bosco Verticale.
The tree in my photos is Evereste , one of the several small varieties that grow to no more than 3 metres. We had to move it a couple of years ago, and were worried it might not survive. But here it is, boldly flowering by our rear garden fence. I love the many shades the flowers pass through – from cerise buds to white full blooms. I also recently learned you can buy crab apple varieties that are suitable for hedging. Can you imagine – a blossom and apple hedge – as wonderful as forests in the sky.
But back to Gardener’s World. Bosco Verticale features at around 16 minutes and again at around 48 minutes:
Crab apples as caught in yesterday’s afternoon sun. There’s a bit of story here too. This year the fruit on our Evereste crab apple tree is absolutely tiny, nothing like the giant size suggested by the photo. But this is good, because it makes us think that the tree has survived being moved back in the early summer. Hurrah! It has produced fruit, albeit apples of elfin proportions.
All through last winter we had ummed and ah-ed about doing something so rash and ruthless as digging up this lovely little tree. I had planted it not long after we moved to Much Wenlock ten years ago. It was the star of an ugly and awkwardly large, raised bed at the back of the house. (You’ve probably seen the crab apple/blossom photos in earlier posts).
In the end we decided to risk it. Graham pruned back much of the top growth, and then effectively dismantled the flower bed around the roots while I dug a big hole at the top of the garden. The transplanting all had to be done double-quick. Then we firmed it in, stamped on the soil to get rid of any air pockets, and gave it lots of water. The final proof of success will be next spring. Will it ever flower again? I think it will.
To take part in Mundane Monday #36, please visit Jithin at PhoTrablogger where you can celebrate the beauty that is everywhere.