Monday, 22 September 2014

Hairy and Ancient

Good morning all

Last gasp of summer weather lingers on, along with a few House Martins that are still flying around the house.
Next spring’s Erysimum’s got potted this week and they are looking really strong. The policy of slipping the little modules into a larger one for a few weeks certainly seems to be paying off at the moment. Let’s hope the winter isn’t too harsh and the buds appear nice and early again to get those early sales going. We always grow them hard to get a really strong plant and give them plenty of room by double spacing them from the start. They seem to respond well and always look great among the other early starters. The early bulbs are sat waiting to grow away as well, out of reach of the mice in their pots on trolleys until they start shooting. It certainly fooled the little tykes last year and hopefully will again.

We watched the second of the BBC2 Stonehenge programmes last week which, like the first, was a bit hit and miss. The overall impression of a big, complex and important landscape rather than simply a circle of stones was great and something not always appreciated by the casual visitor. Just a bit disappointing was the lack of detail again and a few rather odd distractions. The oddest divulgence was the story behind the little gold studs found back in the 19th century in one of the nearby Bronze-age barrows. They found 140,000 tiny studs (1mm x 0.2mm) originally fitted into a dagger handle. This was slightly old news but still an astonishing find. They then seemed to suggest they had been made by cutting ultra thin shavings of gold twisted together by children (good eye sight) and all based on the experience of a modern artist who made miniature jewellery under a microscope. On screen, even to a pleb like me, it looked a dubious theory but as soon as the programme finished I had an irate call from our tame arcaeologist Brian who was, in a previous life, a research fellow metallurgist. Apparently you make studs like this from ‘drawing out’ metal from a fatter piece, a bit like making Blackpool rock with the lettering in the middle. Still a skilled job but relatively simple. Apparently you can even see the striations on the studs where it was pulled through a sizing hole. I know there is quite a bit of fanciful thinking in archaeology already, but at least it is usually built on using the evidence in front of them. Come on BBC we’d like to believe what you tell us in a documentary.My archaeological education took another step forward this week with the suggestion that the three broken bits of iron pyrite nodules I pulled out of the base of a small pit dissected by a trench on the farm, could be a deliberate deposit and may have been used as part of a fire-lighting kit in ancient times. This kit is now rusting on the kitchen table while I think of a good home for it. Caroline got the star find in the trench with a possible worked piece of slate. For the first time I have reported the finds to the local Portable Antiquities lady, on Brian’s advice, and sent a couple of images so they can at least identify the finds and record the locations for their records, if they so desire. Images below, just in case you are as sad as me.

A week of learning new stuff was unfortunately brought to a close on Friday with the demise of one of our local Sparrowhawks. We found a bird in very poor health, managed to pick it up, cage it and drop it off at the brilliant local Hawk Conservancy near Andover where they have a bird hospital as well as a fantastic venue for showing off birds of prey. We had assumed injury by a car or similar as its beak area was a bit messy but it turned out to be an infection called Frounce which can be picked up from pigeons and finches. It affects the throat area and can kill in just a few days. If the bird is ill enough to get caught then it is often too far gone for treatment as was the case with our bird. Still, we had a go and the hospital was pleased with the donation we made.


Fresh stock is growing well and the range is picking up again for the autumn surge!
Asters are showing bud and flower and looking great. Particularly good are Rosenwitchel, Starlight, Lady in Blue and Snowsprite.
Hellebourus are just starting to come ready with a few new additions to the range. We are trying a new H. orientalis selection called Crown Dark Purple which is reported to flower after its first winter, it is certainly coming on nicely at the moment. We have a few H. niger Praecox to try out and three great new H. viridus varieties which are looking very smart and distinctly different from each other. ‘Silver and Rose’ has attractive silvered foliage, ‘White Green’ has deep green leaves with strong cream veining, and ‘Rose Green’ has a more glaucous green leaf with pretty flush of pink in the stems and some leaf veining. Nice short varieties looking enthusiastic in their pots.
Flowers showing on the Erodium Bishops form which never seems to stop once it starts.

Wooden Box Collections

If anyone has any of our wooden boxes ready for collection please do drop us an email and we will pop in and retrieve them over the next few weeks. We can then prepare ourselves for some winter whittling and repairs. Thanks.

Have a good one, from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries

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