A Spot Of Bird Watching

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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.

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Related: Rooks Dancing in the New Moon

Life in Colour: black/grey

 

Orange Power

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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:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3841996/

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:

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Past Square #28

Life in Colour: Orange

Past Repast, And Not Only For Bees

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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’.

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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.

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Life in Colour: Orange

Past Squares #24

And Another View Of Yesterday’s Mystery Square…

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It comes with added red tailed bee bum, and so the mystery is revealed…a globe artichoke flower, or rather an artichoke inflorescence since each part is an individual small flower. There were several valiant stabs at it, but Jude and Izzie were the first to guess correctly.

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The up-close version as seen in yesterday’s response to I.J. Khanewala’s challenge at  Lens-Artists

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And here’s an artichoke flower just opening, the scaly outer leaves  meanwhile serving the constructional purposes of a small green spider:

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And now for the whole plant. I grow several globe artichoke varieties at the allotment. The purple ones are probably our favourites:

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Here’s one in the throes of being prepared as an artichoke heart, i.e. before having its inner leaves and hairy choke scooped out:

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And now for a ‘B’ Movie: ‘Three Bees In An Artichoke’

 

Past Squares #11

Past Perfection: Marigolds

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Like cosmic solar entities dropped into the garden: what’s not to love about the orangeness of pot marigolds (Calendula officinalis). They are among my favourite flowers, which is just as well as they grow everywhere on my allotment plots. I mostly let them do as they please. They keep on flowering too – from summer through autumn and sometimes into December. I use the petals in brighten up my salads, but I think the whole plant is edible – in fact a miniature pharmacopoeia in every stem. My medical herbalist’s guide lists numerous healing properties, besides which, just looking at them makes me feel better.

Passing them on to brighten your Monday.

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Life in Colour: Orange   Jude’s October colour selection at Travel Words

Past Squares #4  Becky says interpret the concept of ‘past’ however we will – just so long as the header photo is square.

Day’s End Over The Garden Fence

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Summer came back this week, a few days of full-on sun before tomorrow’s promised thunder storm. As you can see, the helianthus in the guerrilla garden are all of a glow, caught here yesterday evening – sun dipping over Wenlock Edge. Even Townsend Meadow, recently doused with herbicide, looked quite good in sundowner light. The story here is that after the barley was harvested in July, much of the fallen grain germinated, turning the field into a grassy sward. This has now been dealt with. Next comes the ploughing and drilling. It is also the season of muck spreading, though thankfully not in the field behind the house. Even so, the odour is wafting about the town, especially pungent when combined with a heat wave. All of which is to say,  beauty presently comes with a bit of a whiff.

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Meanwhile back in the Farrell jungle, all is gold…

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Life in Colour: GOLD

The Changing Seasons ~ This Was August

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And it has been all about tomatoes. The allotment polytunnel has been in production for many weeks now: more than enough from a dozen plants. This in turn has meant tomatoes with every meal and much processing of the remainder. For the latter, this year’s method of choice is simply to roast  them until soft. Additives include a drizzle of olive oil, black pepper, sea salt, garlic and fresh basil.  Once cooked, all is whizzed with an electric wand-thingy and put through a coarse sieve into plastic containers. These are then frozen, contents decanted and stored in bags as sauce ‘bricks’.

Otherwise we’ve been enjoying a very simple Greek dish of repeat layers of thinly sliced potatoes, tomatoes, courgettes (starting and finishing with the potatoes) – also with added basil, seasoning, garlic, drizzle of olive oil, and baking the lot slowly in a moderate oven until the potato-slice topping is crispy. Good with baked fish and/or thinly sliced and steamed runner beans or Violette French beans. We’ve also been eating runner beans as a meal on their own, sprinkled with parmesan or pandano cheese, with or without a homemade pesto sauce, or the pistou version which uses up a tomato.

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I’m thinking that by now we must comprise 99% processed vegetable matter.

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For several weeks the weather here has been more like early autumn than summer – some sun, but many overcast days and often quite chilly. We’ve even lit the wood stove a couple of evenings. But lacklustre temperatures have not stopped the garden. Geranium Rozanne made a bid to take over the entire upstairs terrace. Serious curtailing had to be implemented to ensure a bit of space for human kind. The rest of the borders also seem to be several feet taller this year, including the guerrilla garden which has done great service standing in for the too often absent summer sun.

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For those of you who missed our special garden visitor in early August – here he is, the male Holly Blue butterfly. It was spotted first on the sedum also seen in the photo above. Later I saw it feeding on the oregano, also much favoured by the bees:

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One of my favourite August flowers is the wild yellow toadflax. This is one I’ve grown from seed bought from a specialist wildflower nursery. It is common along the verges of Shropshire’s hill country, especially on the lane up the Long Mynd to Rattlinghope.

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Another summer latecomer is the Morning Glory. The deep indigo-purple ones have just started blooming in the polytunnel where they’re happily growing up a Sun Gold tomato plant. A pleasing cohabitation:

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And in the home garden we had a single ‘Flying Saucer’ version. I caught it fully open just as a little bee found it too. Said little critter could not get enough of the nectar. Every time it thought it was full, it made to leave, only to return again and again. Made me wonder if there was something seriously addictive in there. And what with all the pollen too: a new take on the meaning of Bee-line perhaps.

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And just to show we have had some sunny interludes along with the sun flowers:

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The Changing Seasons: August  This month hosted by Ju-Lyn at Touring My Backyard alternating with Brian at Bushboy Blog. Ju-Lyn has been doing some delicious cooking, though sadly short of tomatoes when she needed them (Sorry about that!) And Brian has some fabulous plant and birdlife on show.

Today A Piece Of Sky Fell In The Garden

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And here it is:

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…a male Holly Blue butterfly Celastrina argiolus on the sedum. Blue butterflies tend to be very skittish, and as far as I know I’d not seen a Holly Blue before, though they are quite common. This one was also very shy, and after he flitted off to feed on the oregano flowers would only show me his underwings. But still, they are also very pretty – at first sight white, but then a shimmer of iced blue.

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copyright 2021 Tish Farrell