Month by month Jude at Travel Words is challenging us to join her in a mission to improve her and our photography. February’s topic has been about ‘patterns’, and the final assignment (I’m on the last lap here) has been to use pattern as a background for a more substantial subject. She says it isn’t easy, and she’s right! Anyway, here’s my best shot at it, though I’m thinking my background is too much in my foreground. Further pondering required.
The gardener travels hopefully, always looking ahead. It is the only way to go. But then there are also always ‘the now’ activities, the planning, preparing, nurturing, harvesting, recycling, whichever is appropriate at any given point in the cycle of things.
Knowledge gained from past endeavours – the successes, failures and ‘could-do-betters’ – also informs the way forward. There can be neuroses too prodding you along – is now the right time to sow for the best mid-summer crop? Will this variety or that one provide the best tasting produce/be easier to grow/need staking or otherwise managing? Is it warm enough/too wet/too cold to plant the seed potatoes? What can I do this year to fend off pea moth/allium beetle/slugs/pigeons/carrot fly? What measures can be taken in case of drought/flood/heat wave? What else can be grown to extend the cropping season? What will best dry/freeze/be otherwise preserved over the winter? Shouldn’t I be making more compost/collecting more leaves/maintaining a cycle of green manure growing/weeding? What would the bees, bugs and butterflies like?
So much to think about for the coming year. And while I’m busy doing that, here are some ‘back-to-the-future’ successes from last summer that are spurring me onwards. Remembrance of things to come…
Lens-Artists: Future This week Ann-Christine gives us ‘the future’ as her very thoughtful challenge. Please call in to see her evocative double-exposure images. You’ll be glad you did.
I know – another made-up word, and it’s all Becky’s fault down to Becky’s inspiring January Light squares challenge. Anyway, I am justifying this particular piece of word smithery on the grounds that these hydrangea flowers were indeed a product of summer sunlight, and so what we see here on a frosty January morning is a manifestation of residual light as it gently decays. This is my ‘story’ anyway.
Discovering Wildegoose Nursery was one of the high spots of 2019 – a plantsperson’s paradise set in an old walled garden on the edge of Corvedale in Shropshire.
We went there first in high summer, wandered through drifts of verbena, phlox, day lilies, cone flowers, alliums, grasses. The place was alive with butterflies and bee-hum. Buzzards mewed overhead and nearby, harvesters throbbed – the Corvedale farmers cutting their wheat. Far away over the wall, Clee Hill lay in a haze. A dreaming day.
We went again in November, and in its way, the garden was no less beautiful, the plants and grasses settled in muted tones, and the 1830’s glasshouse looking as magnificent as ever, the low light glancing off its 12,000 postcard-sized panes. It just goes to show – there’s treasure to be found on one’s doorstep. We’ll be back there in spring.
For now a pot pourri of summer and autumn views:
It has to be said the November allotment is a pretty dreary place. The ground is sodden and too many of the plots have run amok. But here and there, if I focus on the particular rather than the whole, a few happenstance artworks catch my eye.
Simon’s Globe Artichokes gone to seed.
Jenny’s watering can where it has been hanging for the last several years. ***
Self-grown Snapdragon in my old runner bean plot. On its second flowering.
Duckweed and leaves on the allotment pond
Fallen apples on an abandoned plot
Quince leaves in the communal orchard
*** Thom who is a marvel at flash fiction on just about any topic and in any setting and with a seemingly endless array of compelling characters was ‘spoken to’ by the watering can. Pop over to his place to see what he’s written: https://tnkerr.wordpress.com/2019/11/17/a-bit-o-friction-tween-old-jenny-and-mulvaney/
I just love it when one thing leads to another. Cheers Thom!
September in Shropshire has been pretty perfect until the last few days. Now we have bouts of heavy rain, weighing down the garden flowers, washing out the last of summer colours. But between the downpours there are still bees and butterflies about, though nothing like the clouds of them we had earlier in the month when I’d find the allotment verbena covered in Painted Ladies. Of course it’s pretty much the last chance for all the insects to stoke up on dwindling supplies of nectar; sunflowers, Michaelmas daisies and sedum being the busiest bug take-aways.
At the start of the month the wheat behind our house was finally cut. As I said in an earlier post, the dust cloud was monumental, covering the garden in chaff. But that’s a small price to pay for the freedom to roam across an empty field. Doubtless, it won’t be like that for much longer. The field will be ploughed and sown. Farmers no longer leave stubble fields to overwinter, so providing forage for wildlife, particularly native bird species, during the hardest months. For now though, the straw bales left behind have been providing some of Wenlock’s youngsters with new play venues, even if scaling them has been proving something of a challenge.
As Cyndi says: ‘Girls just wanna have fun’.
And from this morning’s garden on the last day of the month, and between the rain showers:
copyright 2019 Tish Farrell
We’re back in Corvedale, the lovely valley that lies between Wenlock Edge and the Clee Hills, not far from the ancient Heath Chapel that featured in Over the Edge and faraway.
Wildegoose Nursery is a plants persons’ dream, conjured within an old Victorian kitchen garden. The owners lease the walled garden from Millichope Park and, over the last few years, have transformed decades of dereliction into a magnificent showpiece for uncommon varieties of herbaceous plants. We went there because my sister Jo kept saying we should. You’d love it, she said.
She was right. We did.
So: I’m posting this set of photos in response to Lens-Artists’ weekly theme. This week Amy asks us to think about how we frame our shots, and as this happened to be my particular challenge during our garden ramble: how to capture the essence of the whole, as well as the particular, it seemed a good opportunity to post them.
The colourways and combinations of the Wildegoose planting schemes are captivating, painterly, often flamboyantly informal, sometimes riotous.
Incidentally, I think this lily is hosting an invader harlequin ladybird. They originate in Japan and according the Royal Horticultural Society, were deliberately spread about the planet as a biocontrol for aphids, though not in Britain, whence they came of their own accord. They began arriving here in 2004. Unfortunately they also eat butterfly and moth eggs and our native ladybirds, and there are fears they will outstrip our native strains.
One particular challenge camera-wise was how best to photograph the astonishing Millichope Glasshouse. This too had been restored, all 12,500 postcard sized hand-made glass overlapping panels replaced. The glasshouse dates from around the 1830s and is highly unusual with its curved profile.
Restored from this:
Originally a Victorian kitchen garden such as this would have been cultivated by a small army of garden men and boys, all under the stern eye of a head gardener like Charles Ashford, my own grandfather. The glasshouses would have been devoted to producing exotic fruit, tropical plants for table and drawing room display; the garden walls used to support espaliered fruit trees – peaches, apricots, cherries, apples of many varieties, pears, each sited according to the most beneficial aspect. There would have been hot beds for melons and cucumbers and for forcing early crops, strawberry and asparagus beds, salad crops and vegetables of every kind, and also borders for cut flowers. Such production units were very expensive to run and by the interwar period most big gardens like that were beginning to be abandoned.
Wildegoose Nursery does have some vegetable beds, but mostly the garden is given over to exuberant herbaceous planting. There is also a small, beautifully arranged plant sales area, and a very welcoming tearoom which served such lovely food, we forced ourselves to stay for lunch, even though we’d not long sampled their coffee and cake for a late elevenses.
And here are some planting schemes that especially caught my eye:
And here are some general garden views with Clee Hill in the background. I should add there was also a particular soundtrack to these scenes: above the hum of a million pollinators and the soft chatter of garden volunteers, the thrum of combine harvesters in nearby fields, and overhead, the plaintive mew of buzzards.
P.S. There is a fee for going round the garden, but we thought it worth every penny.
Pop over to Debbie’s at Travel with Intent
Without a doubt July’s stars in the-garden-over-the-fence are the Dyer’s Chamomile daisies, also known as Golden Marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria). They have flowered and flowered for weeks now, spilling out on to field path behind the house, tumbling into the garden through the fence. So much gold from a small packet of seeds bought from Jekka’s Herb Farm.
In fact some of you may remember that back in the winter I was worried about the plants’ survival. Some started flowering late last autumn and were still going in December. I was afraid that after such an untimely show, they would keel over and die. I needn’t have worried. I think they have magic powers, though they do have their foibles. For one thing, they are not early risers, and if you catch them too soon in the day, they will not be properly dressed. Each night as the sun goes down they fold back their petals, tight to the stem so they look like a crowd of golden lollipops. Now there’s a thought to ponder on. It makes me wonder if they do this to attract particular night-time pollinators.
And talking of pollinators the garden has been humming with hoverflies, bumbles and honey bees. And now as the month draws to a close, hot on Marguerite’s sunshine heels come Helianthus, Doronicum, Golden Rod, while among them, dots of mauve and purple from Centaurea, Phlox and Drumstick Allium add a touch of flair. What a happy garden. Which of course makes us happy too. So I’m passing it on even though today it is raining here in Shropshire.
Please pop over to Su’s to see her changing seasons in the southern hemisphere.
A couple of years ago I dumped a big wodge of Crocosmia corms over the fence behind the old privies. The plants were too big for the garden and I’d lost patience with them leaning over and smothering everything else. But I didn’t quite have the heart to dispose of them altogether. And this year I’m glad I didn’t. The exiled Crocosmia are now as happy as Larry, not leaning over at all, but reaching up and up into the summer sky.