It’s Not Too Late To Plant Tulip Bulbs

100_5389

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…

100_5387

Life in Colour: Kaleidoscope Jude wants plenty of colour from us this month.

A Spot Of Bird Watching

townsend meadow cropped

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.

IMG_0632

IMG_0637

IMG_0635

 IMG_0658

IMG_0652

Related: Rooks Dancing in the New Moon

Life in Colour: black/grey

 

Ordinary Extraordinary ~ Past Perfect Encounters

IMG_3872

It is often on the field path to and from the allotment that the seeming ordinary catches my eye. Often too it’s the result of collaborating elements. Take this apple, one of a bucket of windfalls that a neighbour had tossed over the hedge into Townsend Meadow. Then came the blackbirds who, through the autumn, nibbled at the flesh until only this translucent skin remained. Then there was some frosty winter weather and a lowering late-day sun over the Edge. And so we have an apple lantern. And I just happened to be passing as it lit up…

The allotment plots are also fertile grounds for the extraordinary ordinary and finding them can provide protracted and absorbing diversions from weeding and digging. Who can guess what this is?

IMG_5745

*

On the home front too, the multifarious parts of my unruly garden can be an endless source of distraction whatever the season, though autumn can yield some especially fine moments.

IMG_6653

IMG_6650

Lens-Artists: Ordinary  This week I. J Khanewala asks us to explore the commonplace with fresh eyes. A focused look at the ordinary can suddenly transform into the extraordinary.

Past Squares #10

Day’s End Over The Garden Fence

IMG_1869

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.

IMG_1882

*

Meanwhile back in the Farrell jungle, all is gold…

IMG_1880

IMG_1881

IMG_1856

IMG_1877

IMG_1874

IMG_1828

IMG_1858

IMG_1781

Life in Colour: GOLD

Chasing Butterflies

IMG_1413

And to start with, a Red Admiral for Jude. This month at Life in Colour she is looking for all things RED. She also tells me they are rather short on butterflies down in Cornwall. Not so in Shropshire.

Yesterday at the allotment all the plots were brimming with butterflies, mostly cabbage whites looking for any unprotected brassica leaves for a spot of egg laying. They’ve even been coming into the polytunnel, attracted by some overgrown Tuscan Kale seedlings that I failed to plant out in the spring. I’ve also found a comma and a gatekeeper in there.

But the biggest draw is the Buddleja on one of the abandoned plots. No wonder it’s called the butterfly bush. Even so, the butterflies are very wary, so you need to sneak up on them if you want a photo:

IMG_1397

IMG_1392

IMG_1389

IMG_1408

And a gatekeeper on a morning glory leaf in my polytunnel:

IMG_1421

Where Trees Grow On water

Mzee Lali sq

In my last post I mentioned the exposed Silurian seabed in our local quarry was once located somewhere off East Africa. And Jude at Travel Words said she wished she was somewhere off East Africa – to escape our recent rain-pouring summerless weather. Which then had my mind whizzing back to our years in Kenya, and in particular to a trip to Lamu Island, and a December day spent sailing by the mangrove forest of Manda Strait, drifting and dreaming aboard a traditional dhow.

194

The timber from these curious trees has long been an absolute necessity for the Swahili seafaring people of the East African coast. They built their dhows from mangrove planks and harvested the pole wood (boriti) for house construction, both at home and for export to places as far away as Yemen and Iran. The traditional Swahili merchant’s house was build of coral rag, excavated from old reefs, with the roof raised on boriti poles. The oldest surviving houses in Lamu Town date from the 18th century, but the Swahili City states of the East African seaboard – from  Somalia to Mozambique – date back to the 8-9th centuries – a fusion of Arab and African cultures.

Scan-140802-0011sq

SqLamu

Christmas Day on Shela Beach. Distant baobabs across the strait.

Lens-Artists: on the water This week the challenge is hosted by John at photobyjohnbo.

Tree Square #8 Becky wants to see trees in square format.

Life in Colour: blue is Jude’s colour of choice at Travel Words.

Square Roots

P1040255

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.

sqP1000654

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

sq old railway line100_7810

Tree Squares #6

On Windmill Hill

sq100_7820

The old windmill is a much loved landmark, seen from many quarters as you approach Much Wenlock. To reach it you can take the Linden Walk which brings you to the wooded flanks of Shadwell hill. Or you can walk across the Linden Field to the far corner where there is an old iron gate that opens onto the well worn trail up to the windmill. It’s a steepish climb mind you, but at this time of year there’s plenty of reasons to stop and gaze: every few steps a fresh wildflower panorama to take in, the scents of summer grasses and of lady’s bedstraw.

IMG_2167

P1050007

Along the path where the footfalls of Wenlock’s denizens have worn the topsoil to bare rock – wild thyme – a mass of tiny purple flowers, spills over the exposed limestone. There is also pale pink musk mallow, seemingly clinging to the most meagre soil cover. Then by contrast, on either side the path is an exuberant  floriferousness, typical of an unspoiled limestone meadow: a host of flowering grasses whose names, I’m sorry to say, I do not know, purple pyramidal orchids, pale yellow spires of agrimony, golden stars of St. John’s Wort, pink soapwort and pea flower, purple knapweed, yellow vetch and buttercups, pink and white striped bindweed, viper’s bugloss, musk thistles and clovers. One could spend all day up here and not see everything.

IMG_0844

IMG_0882

Tree Square #4 This month Becky wants to see trees (header shot) in square format.

Blissful Linden Green

IMG_0640

Full flushed green and the air beneath filled with lime-flower scent – now is the moment when the Linden Walk is at its billowy, verdant best – the perfect resort for soothing overheated body, mind and spirit. What a treasure our long-ago town physician bequeathed us when he planted this avenue of  lime trees.

I think they must be the broad-leaved variety, Tilia platyphyllos , since they always start flowering in June, whereas the blossom of the Common Lime only gets going in July. But good for old Doctor William Penny Brookes who roused his chums to go tree planting some fifty years ago. Ever since, the trees have thrived on the limestone soil (an intriguing congruency of lime and lime), and in fact a Professor of Lime Trees who visited Much Wenlock some years ago to give them a health check, told us that, with care, they could last us another 150 years.

IMG_0638

IMG_0642

IMG_0645

Tree Square 1# For the month of July, Becky’s square extravaganza features the arboreal. The only ‘rule’ is the header photo must be squared.