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.

Looking In Looking Out On Wenlock’s Old Railway Line

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The old railway line that runs for a couple of miles on the edge of town is a local treasure. If you are outward bound, and up for a really long hike, it is the starting point for a host of other footpaths. You can head for the Severn Gorge, or go cross country through farmland searching out ancient signs of lost medieval villages. The towards-town stretch runs past the outskirts of Shadwell Quarry and then on below the Linden Walk, terminating abruptly above the Cutlins meadow where the highland cattle are often found grazing.

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For much of its length the old line is a shadowy arcade of ash, hazel and crab apple trees. Bosky in other words. In spring there are masses of tiny white violets among the ferns, later a scattering of orchids and wild strawberries. Now and then someone comes along and clears back the tree branches and ivy to stop total junglification. There are scarcely any views out. The fence in the first two photos is the main ‘window’ of opportunity.

On the northerly side you have to a bit of clambering above the trees to glimpse the quarry peripheries. Not very scenic, but I quite like the starkness of these next two winter shots – wild clematis (Old Man’s beard) and barbed wire and then the detention camp look of the perimeter fence.

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And finally one I’ve posted before – the gate at the entrance of the Linden Walk. At this point the railway line is in a cutting to the left of the trees.

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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Fences and gates

The Changing Seasons: July

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The field of gold behind the house has gone now, the barley cut and baled and hauled away, the ground harrowed. It happened in a few days too – to beat the change in the weather. The sky gods simply snapped their fingers: high summer heatwave off; autumn wind and rain on, plus a 12 degree drop in daytime temperatures. Gone too are the drifts of lime flower scent along the town lanes and by-ways. In fact on Friday the change felt so dramatic I kept thinking I’d lost a month or two and that we were actually in late September. Most disorientating.

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But on the things-to-be-very-pleased-about list, number one is the completion of the greenhouse construction against the cottage back door. He who builds sheds and binds books worked his socks off, first demolishing the plastic conservatory, then being confounded by limestone wall (and how to affix said greenhouse to it.) Next were the bad delivery issues of wrong window fittings, wrong glass and dealing with the installation of a door that should have gone on the other end. This one step forward – two back construction phase was also preceded by devising means to resolve a perennially leaking gutter issue. But he sorted it. Hats off to Dr. Farrell.

And so you might be a tad underwhelmed when you see the final creation. It is so low-key compared with the plastic predecessor whose existence I tried never to record apart from this one photo:

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And so now for the new version – recently rain-tested and presently filling up with my drying onion crop:

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Meanwhile out in the garden the bees aren’t letting the weather affect the feeding imperative. The hollyhock flowers have been a particular favourite, the bees calling in for an all-over pollen wash.

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The oregano flowers are a big hit too:

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Then out in the guerrilla garden, the knautia keeps on flowering and is now providing a hunting ground for a tiny crab spider:

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The latest floral interlopers there (though most welcome) are some lemony evening  primroses:

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The tansy has been taking over too and about to flower:

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Finally some soothing sounds from July on the Linden Walk:

 

The Changing Seasons: July  This month hosted by Brian at Bushboys World. Go see his fabulous gallery of New South Wales flora and fauna.

This Must Be The Stuff Rumpelstiltskin Used

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Well here it is – all set to spin into gold. So now you know. Rumpelstiltskin surely had barley straw.

But before the spinning – this was the barley crop three mornings ago:

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Then in the afternoon, in the baking heat, this happened:

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And the dust flew:

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And now we have this:

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And I can hurdle across the field to the allotment, leaping limping over the straw furrows which are half a metre tall, grabbing a few handfuls as I go – not for gold production unfortunately, but to add to the compost bins. There’s another bonus too. This early harvesting may mean we have the freedom of the field for much longer than we usually do – i.e. before it is ploughed for the next crop. I’m also looking forward to baling, if that’s what happens with barley straw. Lots more photo opportunities if the bales are left in the field long enough to take the camera out.

Grimms’ Fairy Tales: Rumpelstiltskin

Over The Field Not Far Away

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We’ve gone Mediterranean in Wenlock this week with temperatures hitting a surprising 30 degrees C. Here is this morning’s view of Townsend Meadow and the well ripening barley, caught as I was heading for the allotment on a pea and raspberry-picking mission.

I don’t seem to have written much about my allotment garden so far this year, even though it is my essential ‘get-away-from-it-all’ space and somewhere I go to most days. Best of all, it is only five minute walk along the field path from the house, yet it is quite a world of its own where there are now-and-then quiet exchanges with fellow gardeners, or sometimes no one else there at all.

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Anyway now is suddenly the season of concerted picking and consumption (peas, strawberries, new potatoes, cauliflowers, broad beans, beetroot, carrots, lettuce, onions, globe artichokes, Sun Gold tomatoes, courgettes); and also the moment when many crops are shifting gear towards later production mode: French, butter and runner beans, sweet corn, cabbages, parsnips, leeks, purple sprouting. All of which means there is much change in Farrell eating habits (another kind of getting away) as produce dictates meal content. Today, for instance, we had globe artichokes for lunch with garlic butter – and so we might well have been in France. Later we’ll have new potatoes with steamed broad beans, peas, and crispy bacon lardons. There may well be strawberries too.

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This year I’m growing a late variety of runner beans not tried before. Today the blossom was just opening – a lovely shade of pale apricot. It’s aptly named Sunset. IMG_0998

I also have a row of Firestorm growing beside the polytunnel. That bean blossom is also living up to its name:

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Another newcomer on the plot this year: round courgettes (zucchini)…

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And here’s the Sweet Corn being rather Incredible too – a variety not tried before:

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I also have flowers on my plots: some that bring themselves like pot marigolds, purple toadflax, the pale pink musk mallow, and others I have grown from seed e.g. Verbascum Wedding Candles (2nd photo from top)  and detail in the next shot:

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And what with all the flowers, vegetable and otherwise, the place is humming with bees and hover flies. Also this morning in the heat there were scents of strawberry jam (as the fruit began to simmer on the plants) and high octane rose and sweet pea scents as the volatile oils filled the air. I kicked off my gardening clogs and went up and down the grassy paths barefoot, variously harvesting and filling water butts and watering cans, soaking myself in the process. It was blissful. Then I went back through the barley field to he who is still trying to construct a greenhouse, even though the right glass has not yet been delivered. Instead we podded a big bag full of peas and beans. Harvest home!

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Lens-Artists: Getting Away

Bert and Rusha at Oh, the Places We See have posed this week’s challenge.

Over The Garden Fence ~ The Monochrome Series

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I am much in love with black and white photography and often use the monochrome setting on my camera. My small Lumix Panasonic ‘point and shoot’ camera used to produce the best results, the current small Canon not so good. The photos here are a mix of original monochrome and converted colour shots featuring various views of Townsend Meadow in different seasons.

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Excavating the flood attenuation pond at the top of Townsend Meadow 2017

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Bringing in the wheat harvest

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Teasels

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Clouds over the Edge

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Lens-Artists: black and white   Anne at Slow Shutter Speed  wants to see black and white this week.

Square Roots

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Some very wintery views here on the wooded flanks of Windmill Hill. Where the trees stop, the land drops off into the massive, now abandoned Shadwell Quarry. Once freight trains from South Wales came chugging into the vicinity to take on cargoes of Wenlock limestone. It was a highly valued resource – mostly used as a flux in iron smelting, but also burned to make fertilizer or ground to produce lime mortar for building; or simply to build with. It’s hard to imagine this place as a hive of heavy industry, but it was – a stinking, dust-palled quarter too. Now the old railway line that runs below the wood is a peaceful footpath, over-arched with ivy-clung ash, hazel and crab apple trees. It’s a good place for pondering on how things are always changing and that it is only our wilful, wishful, often narrow perception that makes us believe that there ever were times when everything was static and predictable.

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Shadwell Quarry and an impressive slice of the Silurian sea bed, some 400 million years old, and once located somewhere off East Africa.

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Tree Squares #6

Night Comes To Sytche Lane Rookery

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This view of rookery wood was taken from my upstairs office window. The wood, mostly ash trees at the south end, is on the lane that runs beside Townsend Meadow. As the field name suggests, this area once marked Much Wenlock’s actual town boundary. At different seasons and times of day the rooks provide a favourite household diversion: watching the cohorts return at sunset, the aerial displays over the meadow, especially as autumn approaches, the caw-cawing racket as they fly in and out of the treetops while they sort themselves out for the night’s roost. Sometimes late on a summer’s night, with the window open, you can hear them chattering branch to branch. Sometimes you wish they would close their beaks and go to sleep.

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Tree Square #5