When we knew that we were moving to Damson Cottage I said to Denise that, once here, I would start on my great work - the natural history of Much Malarkey Manor a.k.a., obviously, Damson Cottage.
We have a selection of books to assist in this work. Primarily an old, knackered copy of Gerald Durell's 'The Amateur Naturalist' and a collection of Reader's Digest guides to British nature in all its shapes and forms.
And so, armed with these mighty reference works, I took to the garden after lunch today determined to identify me some trees.
There was a light drizzle falling. So far, since we moved to Shropshire, most of the weather has been somewhere between a light drizzle and occasional torrential downpours. Once in a while we see dazzling shafts of sunlight and we pause to bask in them. This was not one of those times.
I approached the first tree and looked at the identification guide in 'Field Guide to the Trees and Shrubs of Britain.' They were definitely oval leaves. And they had a serrated edge - but was it double teething or triangular teeth? If I'm honest it looked like it was both double and triangular. And the leaves alternated on the branch. Eventually I decided that the leaves had double teething. So it was definitely, definitely I tell you, either a hazel a grey alder or an elm. And going to the pictures of the leaves it looked most, though not entirely exactly, like a wych hazel. Sorted. Though not entirely convinced.
I went to the kitchen and found Denise. 'That tree!' I pointed. 'What is it?'
'An ornamental cherry.' she told me. 'Might be in the book as a Japanese Cherry.'
I flipped through the pages to Japanese Cherry. No question about it. The leaves in the picture looked just like the leaves on the tree. And the trunk of the tree had brown bark, ringed with breathing pores. As described.
But... and it's a big blooming 'but', considering the importance of the task upon which I was embarked, it was under the section on 'long leaves'. Not 'oval leaves'. When does an oval become a long? That's what I want to know.
On the plus side, I failed to identify the next tree - I plumped for Magnolia from the book, even though it looked nothing like the Magnolia we used to have. And I definitely, definitely identified a Great Tit and a Chaffinch.
So despite evidence to the contrary I am well on my way to becoming a great naturist.
Hi, I'm Andy, serial weight gainer. My year of dieting is over! But you can still give money to Shelter or the PDSA!