All Bee Hum And Bee Bums In The Raspberries

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I’ve written quite a lot about bees on this blog, and in particular the threat of neonicotinoid pesticides to which, researchers suggest, bees become addicted (see Bee-ing Bee-Minded), so I am hugely pleased to find so many bees feeding on my untainted raspberry flowers. Nothing like the sound of happy, busy bees and the sight of all those raspberries in the making.  Thank you bees.

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copyright 2018 Tish Farrell

Of Crab Apple Heaven, Forest High-Rises And Bad Press

First: the bad press. Lately I have been finding myself increasingly infuriated by the partial reporting and drip-drip narratives that the UK and US mass media have been turning out on matters of international importance. War mongering is the name of the game, and you will find it now in the broadcasts of once respectable and respected organs of communication. When governments and the press start scape-goating on the scale we are now seeing, we need to ask in whose interests they are actually acting; as in: who benefits?

But there is only so much fury one can take, so I’m turning my attention to crab apple blossom. And also to initiatives by people who are intent on making our human jungles into life-enhancing environments rather than wiping life off the face of the planet. On BBC’s Gardener’s World last week there was a feature on Milan’s Bosco Verticale – the arboreal tour de force (in all senses) by architect Stefano Boeri. You can find out all the ins and outs of the enterprise at Bosco Verticale.

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One of the primary aims, apart from the provision of green high-density housing, was to reduce pollution levels in Milan. But of course – introduce vegetation and there are all manner of benefits – increase in biodiversity, and the creation of beautiful living spaces in places where you least expect to find them. Trees in the air – how wonderful is that. And in case you’re wondering why the crab apple intro, then crab apple trees are included in the planting of the Bosco Verticale.

The tree in my photos is Evereste , one of the several small varieties that grow to no more than 3 metres. We had to move it a couple of years ago, and were worried it might not survive. But here it is, boldly flowering by our rear garden fence. I love the many shades the flowers pass through – from cerise buds to white full blooms. I also recently learned you can buy crab apple varieties that are suitable for hedging. Can you imagine – a blossom and apple hedge – as wonderful as forests in the sky.

But back to Gardener’s World.  Bosco Verticale features at around 16 minutes and again at around 48 minutes:

 

At The End Of The Day

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Townsend Meadow was all aglow a couple of evenings ago and not only that, I walked home from the allotment in sunshine that was warm. On the other hand, I had just mowed three of my allotment paths, which are all uphill, so perhaps I was simply overheating. Anyway this is how things were looking this week in the field behind the Farrell domain – until the gloom and rain resumed. The oil seed rape (canola) is on the cusp of flowering. I’ve just caught the forward blooms here; most of the field is still green, though it won’t be long. Soon we will have a sea of acid yellow to look out on – always good against a stormy sky, and given the weather forecast we can be sure of having a few of those over the next couple of weeks.

I had rather hoped the farmers were giving this field a rest after a couple of seasons of wheat – maybe putting in a green manure, or leaving it fallow as once happened in the days when farmers took crop rotation and care of the soil to heart. Ah well. The farmers who farm here are tenants who doubtless wish to extract maximum advantage before the actual landowner gets round to building the housing estate he’s been promising us for 2025. Who cares then, about the state of the earth?

Six Word Saturday

Look Out! Granny’s Nightcaps Are Blowing All Over The Woods

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Wood Anemone . Anemone nemorosa . Windflower . Grandmother’s Nightcap

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I hadn’t meant to go wild flower hunting. I was only intending a quick dash along the old railway embankment beside the Linden Walk. A bunch of wild garlic leaves was the objective. They had started appearing soon after the second snow, and I’ve been cropping them on and off since early February. Now all the shady ground either side the former track bed is carpeted in clumps of lush, green, garlicky leaves.

I’ve found that chopping them into a jar and steeping them for a week or so in unfiltered cider vinegar makes for a delicious salad dressing ingredient. You can also treat this as a general spring tonic – a dessert spoonful in a big glass of water. The leaves are also good in a pesto sauce instead of basil, and you can chop them with abandon into soups, curries and casseroles. When they start to flower, you can use the tiny white florets too.

Anyway, as I picking my way through the undergrowth I came upon the wood anemones creating their own little galaxies under the lime trees. They are one of the loveliest of our spring flowers, and their presence is an indicator of ancient woodland. In his Flora Britannica, Richard Mabey also says they do not seed, but their roots spread very slowly in dappled shade. If you spend some time with them, you will see how they turn their faces always towards the sun. Less appealingly, their foliage is said to have the musky odour of foxes, though I can’t say I noticed any such smell when I sniffed the leaves.

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copyright 2018 Tish Farrell

Beauty In Unexpected Quarters?

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This view was taken from the little village of Dale on the estuary of the Black and White Rivers Cleddau, looking towards the port town of Milford Haven. Twelve hundred years ago, and until the Norman Invasion of 1066, the sheltered inlets of the Haven were the haunt of Viking raiders. In fact if you had been looking out across this stretch of water in 854 CE you might have spotted the 23 ships of a Viking raiding fleet. They were gathered off Milford Haven, under the command of Ubba/Hubba (who incidentally gave his name to the present-day settlement of nearby Hubberston). He was one of several commanders of the Great Army whose various factions invaded the Saxon kingdoms of Wessex, Mercia, Northumbria and East Anglia.

If you had looked again in 1171 CE you would surely have seen at least some of the 400 warships that had converged in the Haven as a prelude to Henry II’s invasion of Ireland. The ships were carrying 500 knights and 4,000 men-at-arms.

Look again in 1597, and there would have been storm ravaged ships of the Spanish Armada. A number made landfall on the Cleddau only to be sent packing back to sea by the Welsh militia. This seeing off also apparently involved some pillaging. One of the damaged caravels was captured by six Welsh boats, and relieved of its gold and silver.

Today, though, instead of long boats and warships, you are more likely to see oil tankers heading for the oil refineries of Pembroke Dock. And sometimes even a cruise ship. The misty installation is a recycled oil refinery, now used for the storage of Liquefied Natural Gas.

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Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire  Ordnance Survey  1946 (out of copyright)

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Dale Beach  – never too old to hunt for seashells.

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March Square  Ordnance Survey map apart, this post’s circles and squares in squares may take a bit of finding: round buoys and storage tanks anyone? Square window panes and spotty backpack? Please pop over to BeckyB’s for more March geometrics.

In which Six Go Potty In Pembroke With Cockapoo Puppy – holiday snaps #7

Life After Death But Perhaps Not In The Way We Usually Consider It?

I know many people do not care for them, but I like graveyards. In my teenage years many moons ago we lived next to one – an unassuming village sort with a few brooding yews and a small plain church presiding. It had one tunelessly doleful bell which was very trying to the nerves of us Ashfords come Sunday morning. My father, who was a godless soul as far as I know, took to mowing the grass around the nextdoor graves. This was after he had deeply offended the vicar by mowing our own lawn during evensong.

Pa was deaf and had switched off his hearing aid and so presumably had missed the Sunday evening bell tolling, although this is hard to believe. Anyway, around seven on a summer’s evening he was happily whizzing over the grass with a very noisy flymo only to be fruitlessly hallooed over the church wall by the vicar who had worked himself up into a whirlwind of white cassock.

I think it was me who spotted the poor man waving his arms, trying to catch Pa’s attention. It was a bit embarrassing. Ma tut-tutted. We all knew that Pa was a bit obsessive-compulsive when it came to grass-mowing. But all was smoothed over in the end.

Anyway, to get back to graveyards. Here I am posting some photo details of St. Bride’s churchyard memorials (See earlier post The Little Church By The Sea.) I’m including them for a very important reason. While we were away at St. Bride’s I happened to read an article by Harriet Carty in April’s The World of Interiors magazine. Harriet Carty is an environmental scientist who lives in Shropshire and she is also director of a non-religious charity called Caring For God’s Acre. My interest was thus piqued on several fronts. This is what the organisation says about itself and what it does:

There are about 20,000 burial grounds in the UK and they contain a fantastic wealth of biodiversity and history. They are refuges for wildlife and stepping stones of habitat within our increasingly nature deprived landscape.

And…

Burial grounds are unrivalled for the wealth of built heritage and social history they contain. We encourage appropriate management of heritage and the appreciation and surveying of monuments. Good management of a site creates a haven for wildlife without losing accessibility to the built heritage.

In the article Harriet also mentions lichens in particular, saying how churchyards provide  sanctuaries for one third of the 2,000 species found in Britain – the stone walls and memorials being ‘ideal hosts for these slow-growing colonies.’

 

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I don’t know much about lichens, apart from their presence indicating unpolluted air,  but I would say there are a good few species on these stones. Of course lichens are not the only life forms to have found protecting spaces in graveyards. There may be slow worms, voles, nesting birds, toads, bees and butterflies. There’s also the social history too. So much may be gleaned about past communities from their memorials. Over the next four years Caring for God’s Acre will establish a national data base, listing all the natural and man-made treasures in the nation’s burial grounds. A fascinating project. But most of all I find it very heartening that new life thrives on and around the monuments to those humans who have left the living world. I like it that even on ground dedicated to the dead, the circle of life turns ever on.

 

Squaring the Circle #March22  Circles in squares and squares in squares are happening all month over at Becky’s

In which  #SixGoPottyInPembrokeWithCockapooPuppy – holiday snaps #4

copyright 2018 Tish Farrell

Ice Magic

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The continuing freezing temperatures in the Britain made me think of this photo, taken back in December. Now I have cropped and enlarged it, it looks like a Christmas Tree bauble, a piece of intricate glass. I also imagine I see a cloaked figure, a woman I think, fleeing for her life on a galloping horse. Or else it looks like a Victorian woman’s reticule, soft velvet with a drawstring closure. Or perhaps one of Scrooge’s stash of money bags.

How it formed like this, suspended from a coat thread caught on a barbed wire fence up at the allotment, I have no idea. It just goes to show that we do not need to know the hows and whyfors and whats of something to see its wonder. When I found it, I thought the elements had left me a gift.

Copyright 2018 Tish Farrell

Daily Post: out of this world

Out In The Field With Runaway Crocus

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Several things spurred me to the allotment on Saturday – sun, dryness under foot, onion sets in the post, and the need to get a 2” covering of compost onto the raised beds as per the ‘no dig’ methodology, a job I had forgotten to do in the autumn.

For once the field path was not all of a slither, and along the way I found these crocus (tiny in real life). Clearly they had grown bored with the confining domesticity of suburban flower beds, and so taken off over the garden hedges to try things on the wild side.

Breaking bounds with a flourish – one could learn a few things here…

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Cee’s Flower Of The Day