Bumble Bee Dreaming…Bzzzzz

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One single corn poppy amongst the barley in Townsend Meadow, and snug inside a fast-asleep bee. And what cosier spot, dappled late-day sun through gauzy drapes, the gentle swish of barley all around. I wanted to curl up inside there too, and dream whatever it is bees dream. Sad to say my curiosity got the better of me. After I took this shot, I gave the poppy stem a gentle nudge – just to be sure the bee was sleeping not dying – and off it zoomed. So sorry, bee, for spoiling your siesta.

copyright 2021 Tish Farrell

After The Rain Some Garden Magic

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Here on Wenlock Edge it seems as if we’ve gone from winter to summer with not much spring in between. These last ten days have been warm and sun-filled, a great a time for encouraging squash and French bean seeds to sprout and planting out sweet corn. Of course along with heat and sun come worries about watering newly planted crops: the water butts were growing perilously low, and then quite unexpectedly (because it wasn’t intelligibly forecast except by the Norwegian weather site YR Weather) came a couple of nights of gently soaking summer rain. The barley in the field over the fence shot up another six inches and the home borders turned into jungles. Out in the guerrilla garden the invading Queen Anne’s Lace was bowed down with raindrops. I can’t think when I have seen anything quite so pretty. Who needs diamonds.

Life in Colour: white/silver This month at Travel Words Jude asks for white and silver sightings.

Columbine Carnival

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With the May rains came the columbine invasion. It happens every spring, and you never know where they will pop up next, but this year they have excelled themselves and are everywhere: over the back fence in the guerrilla garden, in the front bed beside the main road, in the paving outside the kitchen door, along the top terrace. And in all shades. They are very promiscuous. I’ve also grown some species aquilegias from seed, and this year they are flowering for the first time. I’m now wondering if they will ‘co-mingle’ with the local wild bunch and produce even more lovely shapes and shades.

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Now meet the cultivated bunch: the first three grown from seed from an aquilegia specialist grower, and the last one a plant ‘rescued’ from an abandoned allotment plot. The yellow varieties seem to gently flower all through the summer.

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Cee’s Flower of the Day

The Changing Seasons ~ May

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The April showers we did not have in April arrived as torrents through much of May – along with hail, sleet, thunderstorms and deep-frozen gusts. And then a few days ago winter stopped and spring happened: wall to wall sunshine and a green explosion. Seedling plants that had been languishing chillily doubled in leaf size overnight. The crop in Townsend Meadow behind the house that I’d thought was wheat quickly grew three feet and turned into barley. The lime tree canopies on the nearby Linden Walk went from pinched and niggardly to ebullient and blousy.

Suddenly all seems right with world, although this only works if you avoid all forms of mainstream media. And to that end, I have been spending a lot of time deciphering the last of wishes of long-ago ancestors, words I find I can believe. It’s also been a time, between storms, to prepare the ground at the allotment, plant out peas and erect runner bean canes, and finally make up my mind as to where all the tomato plants are going. In fact last night I thought it was at last safe to plant the outdoor ones along the south facing wall of the old privies, though I did hang a bit of fleece over the canes in  case the plants felt too shocked. The only problem with that was during the night the rat that lives under the shed tried to hijack the fleece for its nest. Drat and double drat. I was hoping it had gone away. It looks like some tomato shielding will be required later on.

So: onwards and upwards. June tomorrow. In the meantime, here was May:

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The Changing Seasons: May 2021

Last Chance For Purple

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For this final week of ‘purple posts’ Jude at Travel Words asks for edible subjects. She didn’t specify whose food though, or at what stage they might be edible. A broad interpretation to follow then, including shots from the allotment yesterday: polytunnel chives, comfrey and field bean flowers.

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And from last year on the plot: inside a globe artichoke, potato flowers and a sweet pea, none of which are edible, but sound as if they might be.

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Life in Colour: Purple

Coming Home From The Allotment

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At last! Spring has arrived. Or perhaps I shouldn’t tempt fate by proclaiming it. Anyway, after freezing wind and deluges, here’s the proof of brightness, photo taken two evenings ago. You can see Windmill Hill in the distance. And as for Townsend Meadow and this fluffy looking crop – this year the over-wintered plants that I took for wheat, have recently transformed into barley, their feathery top-knots tall and shimmering in the sunshine. I am in love with the field – the way the light dances over it.

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Lens-Artists: blue and green

This week Tina asks us to find inspiration in blue and green. Please go and view her (as ever) stunning work.

“Apple of my eye”

IMG_3426Every gardener has their treasures season to season. The Evereste crab apple tree probably tops my favourites list because she covers all of them. Here she is, caught this week in the evening sun after a day of buffet and bluster, hail, wind and downpour. Already much of the blossom is ‘blown’, and whether any fruit has set, we’ll have to wait and see. The apples that come in the autumn are small and russet-blushed, an inch or two centimetres at most, but each one image perfect; doll’s house apples in other words. And after we have admired them for many weeks, the winter weather then softens them enough to make them a valuable food store for the blackbirds and pigeons. We watch them from the kitchen door.

A tree of many pleasures then. Here she is a couple of weeks ago, the blossom just opening:

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And this was last September (in the midst of an early autumn gale), the apples freshly formed:

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Evereste is also queen of that unruly quarter, the-garden-over-the-fence aka the guerrilla garden, caught here early one summer’s morning. Its content changes every year:

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And in winter there are many new scenes:

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And so yes, the apple of my eye:

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Lens-Artists: Gardens  Please visit Amy’s very lovely gardens. She is hosting this week’s theme.

There’s A Storm Coming…

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This week the icy currents have retreated. Instead we have storms. I was at the allotment yesterday when this one crept up on me. I was planting out some pea seedlings, the skies ahead sunshiny blue, and all well with the world, but when I turned round:

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Heavens! A swift retreat looked called for. Lately the rain has come in sudden deluges of tropical ferocity, the sort of downpours that leave you soaked no matter how water-proofed you think you are. I’ve been caught out before between allotment and home. For sure it’s only a five minute hike across Townsend Meadow, but it’s amazing how much wetter than wet you can get in that short space.

So home it was, the storm on my heels.

But it was only a tease. Almost home and scarcely a drop, I stopped to take the header photo and watched the storm slip over the Edge.

It came back later though: hail, thunder, downpour. During an early evening lull I went out into the garden. The birds were singing. It was almost warm; the sky looked amazing: so many shades of grey. And then it started to rain again.

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The Changing Seasons: April In Wenlock

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Spring comes slowly to the Linden Walk. The epicormic stems at the base of the lime trees may have had their buds unfurling, but the canopy is only now showing a hint-haze of green. All in all, it has been a very strange month. My favourite on-line gardener, Charles Dowding, who gardens commercially down in Devon, says April has been colder than March, and the nights colder than January. I can believe it. Even on bright sunshine days the air has teeth, as if blowing off Arctic glaciers.

Surprisingly, the icy blasts do not seem to have deterred the fruit trees: cherry, damson, greengage have all been flowering magnificently, and now the apple trees are bursting with blossom. In the woods the primroses, celandines and violets have been flowering since February and now the bluebells are joining them. The wild garlic, too, is running amok in the shady parts of the Linden Field. Meanwhile out on the farms, the fields are already brassy gold with oil seed rape flowers, and the wheat behind the house is growing tall and lush, which is also surprising given many weeks without a drop of rain.

All the seasonal confusion is causing this gardener to dither more than usual: shall I shan’t I sow, pot on, harden off, plant out? One can only adopt the trial and error position and be ready with the horticultural fleece to protect the vulnerable. I have at least managed to get the potatoes and onion sets in the ground and planted out, with protection, some climbing pea seedlings and broad beans. And I have also ventured to plant out some tomato plants and one aubergine inside my polytunnel where the most successful production otherwise is a bed of overwintered coriander which has recently made its own small forest. (Never managed that before).

Of course when I go gardening, I’m still wrapped up in my winter gear – sweaters, scarf, hat, padded parka. The allotment is on an exposed slope above the town, and when the sun goes in, it’s been pretty bleak up there. But then all that clobber gets in the way of many spring season tasks. So please, please, May, could you just turn down the icicle winds. And perhaps bring us a bit of warmth. Oh yes and some gentle rain at regular intervals.

On and around the Linden Walk:

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Over the garden fence:

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Potatoes planted at the allotment; overwintered field beans behind:

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Come evening, still need to spark up the log burner:

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The Changing Seasons: April 2021

Wild Arum Days

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Here is another woodland find from Monday’s wood chip scrounging mission in the Linden Field. Freshly opened too among the Dog’s Mercury, this arum lily looks like a dryad’s lantern.

The flower’s mysterious (not to say phallic) looks have earned it a host of country names over the centuries, many obviously, but not so obviously, of the lewd variety. For instance the seemingly innocuous Lords and Ladies would have had particular connotations in its day. The same with Cows and Bulls. And the more modern Willy Lily is downright rude. I’ve always known it as Cuckoo Pint, the pint pronounced as in pint of beer. But back in the day it would, most likely, have been pronounced to rhyme with mint. In the sixteenth century, pint was an abbreviated version of pintle, slang for penis.

Other names are Red-hot-poker, Devils and Angels, Adam and Eve, Friar’s Cowl, and Wake Robin. There are many more. And it’s making me think of that classic anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss’ contention in his book The Savage Mind, that human beings have ever used their observations of the natural world to think by. Food for thought in every sense – a trigger for metaphor and story-telling makings, the narrative impulse that defines human nature.

So I’m treasuring the bawdy names, even if I’ve often missed their meaning. Irreverent they may be, but then irreverence may be the only antidote we have to what Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o, called “the colonisation of the mind.”

Bright Squares #28