From Autumn Leaves to Snowdrops


Bill Edney had the unenviable task of getting those of us schoolboys at Wimbledon College who could not manage Latin through ‘O’ Level Geography after several terms without a teacher. Today I remembered a different anecdote from that told in the link highlighted above.

Sheep, I know do not like long, lush, grass. How do I know? Because Mr Edney, a bluff countryman, publicly humiliated a classmate by ridiculing him for writing in an essay that sheep “like long, lush, grass”. According to the master they most definitely do not. How were we townies to know that? This lasting intelligence prevented me from seeking ovine assistance on our patch of overgrown grass. Having no sheep, I sheared it myself.

Grass cut

It still looks manky at the moment, but should perk up now the air can get to it.

Gazebo Path

This exercise exposed the tortoise, removing its hibernation cover.

Heligan Path

Close examination of this view along the Heligan Path reveals that


purple crocuses are now emerging.

Crocuses and snowdrops

These paler ones share with snowdrops the shade of hellebores in the Weeping Birch Bed.

Bee on Hellebore

During the morning the warm sunshine brought out insects such as bees on hellebores

Bee on snowdrop

and on snowdrops;

Red Admiral on laurel

and a Red Admiral butterfly basking on laurel leaves,

Red Admiral on autumn leaves

seeking camouflage in autumn leaves,

Red Admiral on snowdrops

and slaking its thirst on snowdrops.

Palm Bed

This view across the Palm Bed leads to the grass patch.

Erigeron thinning

Jackie spent the morning clearing and thinning areas such as the erigeron clumps by the windows to the living room. This will soon be carpeted once more with daisy-like flowers.

This evening we dined on roast lamb, Jackie’s sage and onion stuffing, sautéed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, carrots, cauliflower, and greens. I finished the Cote du Rhone.


  1. Had to laugh about the sheep 🙂 The number of writers/poets who waxed lyrical about the full moon in a star studded sky makes me laugh too. More imaginings than imageries. I was ticked off once for saying ‘look, the setting sun’s filled the whole sky!’ (in the outback) when someone took out a pencil from his pocket (!) and tried to give me a science lesson about optical elusion 🙂

    So jealous about the hellebores.

  2. The only time I come across the delightful word “manky” is in blogs posted by those from England! Is it predominantly a UK word I wonder? Many a sheep must cower before long lush grass!

  3. Surely these are not current photographs; you have a month, exactly, before spring arrives; tell me it’s still winter there, and it’s cold and miserable, so that I may gloat!

  4. We are having 60 – 70 degree temps- which is unusually warm for Feb – but only have a few daffodil leaves to show for it. So exciting to see your garden again, Derrick!

  5. Great to see that the spring flowers are on their way, there are even butterflies out, all good signs that its getting warmer. Quite reasuring as we are now on our way back to blighty, maybe it won’t be so bad after all.

  6. Thanks for passing on the ‘lasting intelligence’, I must say I stand enlightened. The grooming of the patches has exposed interesting life. The juxtaposition of the wheels and the tortoise makes for a fascinating picture.

  7. This reminds me of the first time I travelled to Cantal with my now husband (the start of two love affairs you might say). A (French) friend of his explained in answer to my question about sheep that you don’t find them in the Cantal because the grass is not good enough for them …. I politely queried and asked if he meant it is too good as I was of the mind that sheep live in quite barren areas but he was adamant. There are NO sheep in Cantal. As we drove away from their house and just on the edge of their village I was certain I spied a little huddle of sheep in a very visible field ‘well we must have drifted out of the Cantal said my companion, because we know there are NO sheep in the département’ ?

  8. I think “manky” might be Scots, or even Glaswegian, originally (but don’t quote me: not that anyone would).
    Interesting to witness you working your way through the various Latin-derived words for animals in these pages. “Ovine” today, “cervine” (which threw a few readers, about a month ago); I’m sure “bovine” and “equine” must have made their due appearances. Still waiting with “bated” breath (apologies to poor Rasputin, in next day’s post), for donkeys and goats to show up how much Latin you acquired, despite being in the Geog. class. Once you’ve filled THEM in, I’m sure eagle-eyed followers will point out any other omissions (rats, mice, rabbits, moths, flies, etc., etc.: not sure I’d recognize all these myself, actually, so bluff away… )

  9. Interesting comments on the sheep…we had a quick venture into “sheepdom” with 2 sheep and a baby lamb…sadly, without a ram they were so freaked out all the time, they developed wonky fevers and died…the vet told me…and I quote…”there’s an old saying, a sick sheep is a dead sheep”. Not what I was looking to hear. I just assumed sheep are hardy animals…apparently not. Love your photos…spring is coming.

  10. Those are really lovely flowers 🙂 And it must have been nice to spot the tortoise and those insects as well. The bit about the sheep made me chuckle – especially thinking about how maybe they’d like the grass at a length more suitable for them to eat xD

  11. I like the wild, seemingly random, look of your garden. It reminds me of my backyard. And the fence made of wheels – I love that! Maybe it will work with my old bicycle wheels.

Leave a Reply