Thursday, April 16, 2009

Garden update 1, and a Thai story

Right, I mentioned gardens at one point when I started out with this new blog, and I suspect that some blogallies may well be interested in my progress at Skip (above).

It was a lovely weekend at Skip over Easter and I was able to take a wee break from putting together the May Scottish Curler to check out the state of the garden! This will be my sixth summer of trying to restore the garden. My five year plan has been extended indefinitely! I moved in on December 24, 2002. The garden had been nice before, but hadn't been touched in a while. Of course there was little to see that first December!

I took the advice that first year to wait and see what was there already. It was a surprise then when lots of daffodils appeared in the spring - indeed the daffs (and snowdrops) had been among the few things to survive the neglect. And they still cheer me up at this time of year.

Saturday was the start of my spring clear up. The photo above is from the bottom of the back garden, which is on three levels. I was pleased to find that the retaining walls had held up this winter - it's amazing just what one can learn on a weekend's dry stane dyking course!

The trees are just beginning to awaken. The big beeches though are still quite dormant. I just love these, and will post something about them soon. Promise!

There's quite a large 'wildlife pond' in the bottom corner of the garden (bottom left of the pic above). The tadpoles have hatched, and no doubt the garden will be jumping with frogs as summer approaches.

My neighbour has a much bigger garden! This is looking north up Annandale towards Moffat, the River Annan on the left. Scotland is so beautiful when the sun shines.

When I was working in the garden on Sunday, clearing all the old growth, I was still finding I'm particularly sensitive when things rustle in and amongst the plants. I jumped out my skin last summer when a large frog took offence at being disturbed, as did a hedgehog, not to mention the pheasant which attacked me because she had her chicks hidden nearby. (It is quite a wild garden in places.) The reason that I'm so jumpy is that for two years of my stay in Thailand I had a garden. And when something rustled in the undergrowth there, you moved quickly.... in the opposite direction.

This was my front garden then. There are three seasons in Thailand. There's the VERY HOT season (the equivalent of our winter), there's the VERY HOT AND WET season (the rainy season), then there's the VERY, VERY HOT Season! Things grow well there. I had lots of containers, and my Thai friends couldn't believe my enthusiasm for things they considered pretty much as weeds eg bourgainvillea, and some of the common orchids!

My house was in the western suburbs of Bangkok, near Salaya, where one of the Mahidol University campuses was located. More rural than urban. And there were snakes. Poisonous ones. So one had to be just a little careful when one was indulging in pastimes such as gardening.

My Thai snake stories should probably go into my autobiography, but here's just one as a taster. I was trimming one of the shrubs which grew on the fence on the left of the photo above, when one of the green shoots I was about to snip off with my secateurs, moved!

It was a very thin green snake, unlike anything I'd ever seen before, a beautiful thing, and it was blissfully travelling through my shrubs and plants about two feet off the ground! I rushed in to the house, grabbed my snake book, and outside again, talking nicely to my visitor to persuade it to keep still long enough for me to identify it.

This was my reference. I've kept the book, don't know why. Anyway, what was visiting my garden was Ahaetulla nasuta, or a long nosed whip snake.

Sadly, it didn't stay long enough in my garden for me to get my camera - it had probably seen the secateurs and may well have realised what a close call it had had! I found this photo on the web tonight, it gives a good impression of what this beautiful snake is like, better in fact than the pic in the book. There's a super photo of it here too.

Anyway, enough for tonight. Thailand has been in the news these past few days for all the wrong reasons. Thai politics have always been exciting, although difficult for foreigners to understand. One has to hope that this country, with its wonderful people, has a happier future ahead.

Episode 2: Bob's encouter with a King Cobra (but not in his garden!) Some other time.

Skip pics are my own, and those of my Thai garden are scans of prints from the days BD (before Digital).

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