January sun

The vixen sleeps in the morning sun under the thick hedge that borders the road and in plain sight of the kitchen window. She looks up when she hears the Sunday joggers bustle down the hill but soon settles back down. She checks our bird feeders regularly mainly for any strewn peanuts; and to date…

Shellness wader roost

The shifting headlands of cockle shells at Shellness provides shelter to a huge saltmarsh and these are some of the wildest and most natural coastal habitats in Kent since there is no sea wall to keep the tidal waters in check. At high tide, the sea almost covers the entire headland but just stops short…

The vegetarian fox

At the start of December, the weather changed from balmy to icy and the sub-zero temperatures stayed for a week. The house sparrow flock returned to the seed holder and blackbirds crossed the valley to feed on the apples. A fox, handsome in its thick winter coat, enjoyed sniffing out an abundance of strewn peanuts…

Goblin Combe

The woodland is muddy, dark and full of hart’s tongue ferns. Limestone cliffs appear behind great yews and tall oaks and ashes. Marsh tits, wrens, blackbirds and nuthatches sound out bringing life to the narrow valley where the winter sun tries hard to penetrate but rarely succeeds. Above the native woodland, plantations of beech are…

Cooling Marshes

In winter, the grazing marshes below Cooling have a wild beauty especially under a late afternoon sun that splices the broken clouds. This autumn, a large flock of some 600 lapwings sit out the day on the fields but are constantly restless and at low tide shift to the narrow strip of firm ground created…

Autumn

When the sun breaks through on a stormy day, the old hedges of thorn, ash and dying elm appear green and golden above the rich brown fallow fields. The skies over these open, chalk downs are, on some evenings, briefly dramatic before the sun drops into the dusk.

Autumn inkblots

Like so many country estates, the large back garden at Sheffield Park is a display of the most fashionable trees and shrubs brought in by Georgian and Victorian plant collectors, especially from the remotest and most inaccessible temperate forests in the Far East and Far West; the seeds were as prized as moondust. Gingkoes sit…

Spoonbills and sandwiches

August 30th At Shellness, the flocks of waders and waterfowl are enjoying the easy pace of the balmy summer.   Swallows move along the beach in small flocks; a wheatear forages on the shingle. There is a late summer silence at high tide mainly because the Brent geese have not arrived. Sandwich terns are roosting…

Folkestone Harbour

The ferries no longer cross to France and nor do the trains run down down from London so the Harbour is now a peaceful place of relaxation and bright sea views. On a sunny Sunday in October with a fresh breeze it is bright and cheerful; the old station with its curved platform is a…

Summers up

A few images from a long hot summer that has now drifted into a damp and mellow autumn. Our local chalk grasslands are always rich in wildflowers and the diversity seems to be improving especially with a profusion of bee ochids in July. The green wheat fields turned yellow in the long summer drought; today…

Stourhead

The landscaped gardens at Stourhead are a sort of pastiche Greek paradise comprising of a dammed lake surrounded by an assortment of stone structures including temples, pantheon, Palladian bridge and, for good measure, a Gothic cottage. The homage is set within a narrow valley planted with tall, exotic trees. Above the valley, there is a…

Sissinghurst in September

The old place is quiet on a hot day; the struggling borders are fading into autumn. The new Mediterranean garden perfectly evokes a dusty, desiccated island in the Aegean except there is no loud, monotonous rasp of cicadas. Even after a long drought of a summer, there is still enormous inspiration from the the planting;…