Thursday, August 31, 2023

The Jungle in August

 Dateline: Cattaraugus County, western New York State

The woodland cottage garden look is just about reaching its peak.

Of course it wasn't originally going to be a wild woodland English cottage garden but a perfectly manicured American-style one with neat clumps of the same time of flower separated by lots of mulch. That strategy did not work.

Even if the garden shed always manages to look tidy.

I caught a few dastardly Japanese beetles but thankfully their friends appear to have taken fright and scarpered and we didn't have any more trouble. I think the majority opinion around here is that traps just attract more of the brutes. So it's a case of grabbing them and chucking them in the slug bucket.

Back in July, Jack Daniels, as I call him, was at his best.

Later came the obedient plants - spreading everywhere. They're almost as bad as what I call the yellow perils. But they are very pretty.

I've never seen so many bees on a small clump of flowers. There must be something in them they love. This chap couldn't get enough.

The trumpet vine is out of control. The gift from my master-gardener brother-in-law that just keeps on giving.

No more flower beds but meadow beds. A free-for-all but I' was heartened again by this year's Chelsea Flower Show which seemed to favour the untidy look.

In front the daisies are always good value though one morning I came outside and found something large had landed in the middle of them and left a trough. Maybe the same culprit that uprooted everything earlier in the year.

The hardy hydrangeas are getting massive. 

I have to say that, although I complained about the slugs earlier in the year and they devoured all the lupins, they don't seem to have waddled off to eat anything else. Perhaps the melon rinds I scattered around enticed them and they got indigestion.

Another foe, the deer, do seem to have repelled by the Irish spring soap, judiciously tied to bamboo poles and smelling like inside of a minicab.

Alas all the blueberries got eaten once again, whether by chipmunks or birds. One attacks from above and one from below. We'll have to think up a new strategy next year. But on balance I think I can claim some modest success.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

The Battle of Monmouth 2023

 Here's a bit of a flashback - in more ways than one! June found us in Monmouth County, New Jersey on the trail of hubby's ancestors. As it happened, they were re-enacting the Battle of Monmouth, which took place in 1778 (that's not the one that happened in Wales in 1233.) In this Battle of Monmouth, George Washington led the Continental Army - including one of the ancestors - against the British redcoats, seen here preparing for the fray. 

 And here some stalwart chaps are having a little break - they've all sleeping in those tents and have another night to go. Very authentic. No hotel comforts for them.

We asked these lads what the green uniform was. They replied curtly, "We are Jagers from Germany", as if we were clueless for asking.  In this case they were helping the British.

Re-enactments are tough work.

Everything the stalls sold was authentic too - sweets, tools, shoes... We bought some tea, as thrown overboard in Boston.

They didn't so selfies in 1778 - had to ask a friend.

George Washington chivvies his elegant officers along. The road does look a bit modern ....

But most other things were exactly as was. Including, campfires, cooking utensils

And the food

Though the clothes and uniforms...

may have been a little less pristine back in the day.

Just before the battle started there was an almighty clap of thunder and the rain poured down as we cowardly spectators rushed for cover, unlike the gallant combatants. But it was worth coming back as the sun soon returned.

And amid a lot of loud bangs of a different kind, the skirmish continued.

That was a good one!

It was all stirring stuff but, not following the commentary on the tannoy very well, I had to ask hubby  who won. "Well the British left the field,", he said, "but I suppose you could call it a draw. Though", he added, what matters is that WE won the war." OK ok, family pride, I get it!  There were plenty of dead bodies strewn across the field,  exhibiting remarkable self-discipline. None of them moved till the spectators started to disperse.

It was very impressive and I take my bonnet off to them. I'm always amazed at how fervently they do their history this side of the pond. Perhaps because they have somewhat less of it than the British, they preserve and cherish it more. The crowd was huge and enthusiastic, including a lot of children. Great that they were so interested in their heritage - or perhaps it was all the bangs and smoke.  I bought hubby a T shirt that said "Battle of Monmouth 1778". I made sure it was a red one though.