Archive for February, 2016

Over the moon

February 29, 2016 Leave a comment
Jujube branch with last year's leaf stalks

Jujube branch with last year’s leaf stalks

Our jujube tree looks to me like a lost soul.

It’s scarcely grown in the 8 years we’ve had it, it’s had fruit once (well twice, but the second time hardly counted) and now it’s got lichen on the branches and the nodes where the leaf stalks develop, which may be the nearest it gets to flowering.

It’s at the furthest corner of the orchard and although I love it’s delicate foliage, I have to confess I don’t visit it very often and I’m not terribly enamoured of the fruits. I once ate an acorn – they strike me as similar.

I looked up about uses of jujubes and was interested to find that in Italy they traditionally make ‘brodo di giuggiole’ which literally means jujube broth but is actually alcoholic and very sweet. The Italian phrase ‘andare in brodo di giuggiole’ (to go into jujube broth) means to be over the moon!

Exercise in futility?

February 28, 2016 4 comments
Apricot tree in bloom

Apricot tree in bloom

This is the every-other-year apricot tree in full blossom regalia, exuding a delicious blossomy scent.

I took the photo just before it was subjected to vicious wind and driving rain.

The bumblebees, which seem to be primary pollinators, will be tucked up in their nests. Even without being un-aerodynamic they wouldn’t stand a chance, so I hope we get some still and sunny days soon.

I’ve almost finished pruning the fruit trees – just a few exotics to go: a jujube tree which has only fruited once, a persimmon tree, two bushes, and some plum ‘scrub’ across the front edge by the house.

Then it’s on to the roses and the buddleias!

Clive sat on a bench by the patio door while I was at it today – his first time properly out of doors. I realised afterwards his view of what I was up to was partly blocked by the wall. The idea had been for us to keep each other company, but for much of the time all he could see was branches and twigs mysteriously toppling!

Oak leaf gall

February 27, 2016 Leave a comment
Much more endearing than a pimple

More endearing than a pimple

I was clearing up after Galileo, who relieves himself close to the house first thing in the morning, when I caught sight of something sitting on a fallen oak leaf.

I thought at first it was a ladybird, but it was too round. Also it didn’t move when I picked the leaf up.

It was – is, because it’s sitting on my desk as a curiosity – a gall, caused by a gall wasp whose grub feeds on the lump of growth which the oak is stimulated to produce.

It’s a beautiful little object – symmetrical and sturdily attached. It can grow quite a lot bigger, but it doesn’t harm the tree.

First primroses

February 26, 2016 Leave a comment
First sign of Spring

A real sign of Spring

Beside the track at the top of the orchard, driving quickly past I thought I saw a primrose.

It looked like just the one, half way up a muddy bank.

But when I went to have a proper look later on, I found dozens of blooms.

I wouldn’t say the place was exactly carpeted, but it was lovely to see that the plants are spreading.

I grabbed a quick photo because it was just starting to rain.


February 25, 2016 Leave a comment
A prickly Taylor

A prickly Taylor

Today I pruned a wayward and extremely prickly pomegranate bush while below me, on the path between the orchard and the olive grove, Taylor took a stance.

He’s nowhere near the fence with the neighbours, behind which are ranged a massive Maremmano and an equally massive German Shepherd, but he barks and growls and looks ferocious as if to protect everything around him.

In fact the neighbours, whose choice of dog shows their own preferences, have complimented him on how big he looks standing there. (Being white makes him appear bigger, too.)

But he’s a big softie, really.

He’s lying under my desk at the moment. Every now and again he gives a bloodcurdling snarl which is either the result of a dream, or because he thinks Galileo is about to try and recover the coveted position which is more normally his!


February 24, 2016 Leave a comment
Blossom on the Santa Rosa plum tree

Blossom on the Santa Rosa plum tree

Today we had visits from a couple of technicians to put right the various problems with the equipment.

A female rehabilitation doctor also arrived with a massive entourage. They crowded in the doorway, too many to count, and since Clive always moves like an orang-utan from hand-hold to hand-hold under his own steam, he could see little point in their presence and asked that they wait outside.

Which they did, chatting and smoking, thick on the ground as the buds in the photo.

Only one gorilla-like male came in, once, to move our own pole which Clive needed to raise himself from the sofa – where he’d taken refuge late last night after the bed finally gave up the ghost.


February 23, 2016 Leave a comment
Reflection and reality

Reflection and reality

Clive was back in the kitchen this morning, but instead of using his walker as before, this time he pushed an ordinary chair in front of him.

He doesn’t feel safe with the walker. The brakes consist of little flaps which supposedly grip the tyres, but the tyres have less tread on them than a snakeskin. Wheelchair ditto.

The bed will now only go down but not up, and the arm that projects over the head of the bed has come out of its bracket.

Nonetheless, Clive is getting new views and perspectives every day, and so am I. Today, sitting in an unaccustomed place at the kitchen table, I noticed that the view reflected in the kitchen door glass looked like it was the continuation of the actual view in the doorway. Even to the mountain slopes matching up!