Late summer and corn cockle seed heads against a Wenlock Edge sunset.
Townsend Meadow behind the house; the fence surrounding the attenuation pond that protects the town from flash floods. And also our local carrion crow couple being nicely scenic.
The upstairs garden seat in winter; the ash log sun dial, and the last of the crab apples.
Autumn dawn, the guerrilla garden in shadow: Michaelmas daisies and helianthus. Townsend Meadow after the barley harvest, but still golden in the early morning sunshine.
An early summer monochrome foxgloves and purple toadflax in the guerrilla garden.
And an almost-monochrome. Shadow play on a dust sheet hug out to dry on the washing line.
Lens-Artists: Light & Shadow Patti has set the theme this week. Please pay her a visit. She has some stunning photos to show us.
There may be a lingering chilliness on the wind, but in the upstairs garden crab apple tree Evereste is in full floral finery. I don’t remember seeing her quite so blossom laden. And she’s already attracting a few bees and sundry bugs, all calling in for their spring pollen fix. So if anyone is thinking of a crab apple tree for their garden, then Evereste is a real treasure. She’s compact too, for despite the suggestion of gigantism in the name, she only grows about 10 feet (3 metres) tall.
Sofia at Lens-Artists suggests we think about bokeh – the judicious (or in my case mostly accidental) application of blur to add depth and accent to our photo images.
Here are some garden bokeh, taken at different seasons and times of day. The header photo is a late autumn crab apple over the garden fence. And next up is a very wintery globe artichoke at the allotment. I like the russet tones, focused and unfocused, picked up by the afternoon sun:
Summer and a self-invited opium poppy out in the guerrilla garden:
And late summer teasels forming outside the garden gate:
An October sun-downer sunflower in the ‘upstairs’ garden:
Early morning dew on a heuchera flower in early summer:
And a May-time bouquet in the kitchen: lilac and hawthorn blossom:
Alder catkins catch the sun in the Linden Field
Spring came to Wenlock this week, both time-wise and weather-wise. We’ve had lunch in the garden three days running. Astonishing for March! Full-on sun and a general bursting of buds and blooms in every quarter. Even the moss on the garden steps has switched to hyper-green mode.
Over the road in the Linden Field there are prairies of wild garlic leaves just begging to be plucked for sauces and soups. In fact such is the vegetative imperative of this particular plant, it’s to be found sprouting from the lime tree hollows on the Linden Walk. At the top of the field, under the oaks, the daffodils are at peak perfection. Also growing there are wood anemones, dog’s mercury, violets and primroses. Then beside the Cutlins path the horse chestnut trees are now a mass of sticky buds. And at home in the garden the white japonica is looking its serene best.
This week Ann-Christine at Lens-Artists asks us to show her curves.
One mid-summer evening when I was leaving the allotment by the gate rather than by my usual route through the field hedge, I glimpsed, on the far edge of town, over rooftops, and between trees, an astonishing scarlet blaze where I’d never seen one before. Home was forgotten, and off I went to investigate: over the main road out of Wenlock and down a lane beside the old railway bridge, into a field with an abandoned barn by the gate, and there it was: an entire field of poppies.
They looked to have exploded from an oil seed rape crop, but it was hard to tell. Had someone sabotaged the farm seed, or did the farmer do it on purpose? Whatever the cause, it’s not happened since. But it was one of those weirdly wonderful happenings wherein it was hard not to grow very over-excited and run amok. I took lots of happy snaps, then dashed home to spread the news to he had a much smarter camera. And then we went back and repeated the excitement, all fuses fired by poppy power.
The Square Odds #14
On wintery days when the garden looks deeply dreary, it’s good to reflect on past summer brilliance and on summers to come.
Life in Colour: Kaleidoscope
In fact they are supposed to fare better disease-wise if planted towards the end of the year, rather than in autumn with the other spring-flowering bulbs. I came across this particular bouquet in Aardvark Books (Hereford’s wonderful second-hand book emporium and book lovers’ heaven). Stunning, isn’t it? You can well see why tulip mania broke out in 17th century Holland. (Perhaps one of history’s more benign expressions of humans losing all sense of proportion).
Tulips of course are not native to Europe (hence the excitement when they first arrived there). Their homeland is Turkey where they grow wild, and it was the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire who bred and filled their gardens with ever new varieties. Trade in the bulbs was forbidden and each new variety carefully recorded. But as might have been predicted with such highly desirable items, they escaped at last. And ever since we’ve had more and more new versions, each one designed to incite tulip lust. So much so, I find it impossible to choose whenever I look at a bulb catalogue. On the other hand, as I said, there’s still time to plant some…
Life in Colour: Kaleidoscope Jude wants plenty of colour from us this month.
In the previous post Chasing the light over Townsend Meadow my header photo featured my ‘stand-on-bed-while-using-open-rooflight-as-tripod’ school of photography. I now confess to using the same method to spy on my local corvids. I think the pair flitting above the field fence may be carrion crows. It’s hard to tell at this distance, but we do have a couple who come daily to forage in Townsend Meadow. It is part of their territory that includes the Linden Field across the road. Also each year they come with an offspring. They call to each other across the field. I note a strain of lament in it.
But back to spying. If, with my stand-camera-on-open-window method, I then turn the lens 45 degrees to the right I can then cover activities in the rookery in the wood beside Sytche Lane. The lane borders the field boundary, and the wood borders the lane and is an unkempt sort of place inaccessible to us ordinary Wenlock folk. Both rooks and jackdaws congregate here, and in large numbers. At dusk, and particularly in autumn, they put on breath-taking balletic performances, swooping and swirling for many minutes over the meadow. If you happen to be out there when they start (sometimes my return from the allotment coincides with the opening passes of the corvid air show) it can be exhilaratingly eerie, and especially when a cohort, several dozen strong, whisks by my shoulder. There’s a rush of air. Wheeeeesh. Then gone before you register quite what happened.
You can get a gist of this phenomenon from my short video at the end of the post.
Related: Rooks Dancing in the New Moon
Life in Colour: black/grey
I thought this marigold square deserved another outing – essence of orange as visual infusion. And yes, I know. I keep writing about this particular cottage garden pharmacopoeia, so just to prove I’m not some old wife telling ill founded tales, here’s a scientific paper that highlights calendula’s potential for all manner of human ills, and calls for a thorough investigation of likely benefits. The list of this plant’s phytoconstituents is breath-taking:
The paper also points out that pot marigold, Calendula officinalis, is used clinically around the globe, especially for skin complaints. This has been so for hundreds of years. It would certainly have been found in the monastic physic garden, and the medieval wife would also have grown it in her kitchen garden, since she was the one responsible for dealing with family ills in an era when ordinary folk had to shift for themselves when it came to illness.
Anyway, just looking at my current marigold horde at the allotment cheers me up. So here’s a further dose:
Past Square #28
Life in Colour: Orange
Today, Jude at Travel Words wants to see examples of edible orange. And just in case you think that only the bumble bees are enjoying my allotment nasturtiums, I have to confess I’ve lately been chomping the flowers whenever I go gardening. At the moment there’s a huge flock of them on the bed where I had broad beans earlier this summer. I’ve no idea how they got there (interspersed with pot marigolds) but they are making a colourful show, and their late arrival (seasonally speaking) means they have escaped depredations from cabbage white caterpillars and aphids.
The flowers are crisp, cool and peppery, and excellent added to salads along with their leaves. The seed heads are also edible, but due to their stronger flavour are perhaps better pickled than eaten ‘neat’.
The garden nasturtium has been much studied for medicinal benefits, and you can see some of the findings in the research paper HERE. This is a quote from the abstract:
The flowers and other parts of the garden nasturtium are a good source of micro elements such as potassium, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium, and macro elements, especially of zinc, copper and iron. The essential oil, the extract from the flowers and leaves, and the compounds isolated from these elements have antimicrobial, antifungal, hypotensive, expectorant and anticancer effects. Antioxidant activity of extracts from garden nasturtium is an effect of its high content of compounds such as anthocyanins, polyphenols and vitamin C.
I shall thus keep chomping until the frost finishes the present crop. Meanwhile, too, the flowers are still available for any late-hibernating bee in need of a pollen fix.
Life in Colour: Orange
Past Squares #24