Over The Garden Fence In All Seasons ~ Harvesting The Light

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Our cottage at the back looks out over Townsend Meadow and beyond it, to the sky over Wenlock Edge. It is a westerly view so every day of the year we have a sundowner light show. Obviously some days the spectacles are more striking than others, but the sky over the Edge is always worthy of a good long ponder.  We do much pondering here on Sheinton Street on the vestige shores of the Silurian Sea (circa 400 million years ago), when it was somewhere else entirely. Probably a little north of the Comoros Islands in what is now the Indian Ocean. A thought worth embracing. Or at least a prowl around its peripheries.

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I’ve posted these archive shots in response to Jude’s this week’s light challenge over at Travel Words:

“This week’s assignment – Use strong backlighting (i.e. shooting towards the light source, but do not look directly at the sun) to create a contre-jour image where the subject becomes a silhouette, OR shoot the light through flowers or leaves creating a transparent effect.”

 

2020 Photo Challenge: Light

On The Line ~ The Shadow Garden

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Jude’s ongoing photo challenge at Travel Words is well worth your attention. Her aim over the coming months is to help us be more creative with our photography. May is dedicated to the use of light, with a different assignment each Sunday. Here is this week’s:

‘Look for shadows. Strong light, casting well-defined shadows, can create interesting abstract images. Layering light and shadows brings a sense of depth to an image and can convey mystery.’

My shadow composition came about as a result of some domestic DIY. It must have been late summer a couple of years ago. I don’t remember what the job was, but it involved washing this dust sheet afterwards. And as the late-day sun headed over Wenlock Edge so the shadow garden was made.

2020 Photo Challenge #18 Shadows

Hurrah For The Talyllyn Railway Men!

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A couple of summers ago we had a perfectly batty day out on the Talyllyn Railway, the world’s oldest preserved steam railway. The line runs from the mid-Wales seaside town of Tywyn up into the hills to the old Nant Gwernol slate quarry – the shifting of slate being the original reason for the line’s existence. You can see the full colour account of that trip at: Partners in steam on the Talyllyn Railway – Woo-Hooooo. But as Cee’s Black White Challenge this week in all about ‘heads’ and ‘features’, I thought I’d celebrate the Talyllyn’s enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers with a little photo gallery of those we met that day. A pleasure to travel with you, good sirs.

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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: heads or facial features

Kalamata Layers

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Late September and the locals had abandoned Peroulia Beach because, they said, ‘it was too cold’. Even to us Brits the sea was a touch cooler than hoped for. Still, you can’t come to Greece and not have a swim. And the glass-clear waters of the Messenian Gulf were so beguilingly blue. And then there was the backdrop view – the Mani that never quite came into focus all the time we were there, the rugged scarps of the Taygetos ever mirage like. Perhaps we dreamt it.

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Lens-Artists ~ Layered  This week Amy wants to see layered looks.

Squarely Filling The Frame In Townsend Meadow

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Today by way of an intermission from Two Go Pottering About In Pembroke, I’m back on home ground here – the field behind our house just after the wheat was cut in early September. It’s nice to recall the glorious sunshine too (since we returned from Wales it has been wet, wet, wet, the country locked inside jet stream weather effects). Also I thought I’d combine Becky’s line squares with Patti’s challenge to fill the frame. So here goes: bales, stubble, light and shadow, false horizons, landscapes and cloudscapes, textures and colour blocks. And lots of stalks.

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Lens-Artists ~ Filling the Frame

Line Squares #11

In The Frame ~ A Garden Treasure Trove

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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.

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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.

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Restored from this:

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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.

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And here are some planting schemes that especially caught my eye:

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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.

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P.S. There is a fee for going round the garden, but we thought it worth every penny.

Lens-Artists: Framing the shot

My Big Basket Of Beautiful Borlotti And A Few Shades Of Africa

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I cannot tell you how excited I get about the prospect of the late summer borlotti harvest. I grow the climbing version, also called Firetongue or Lingua di Fuoco – you can see why – and just now the leaves are falling from the stems and leaving clusters of hot pink pods to light up my allotment plot.

I harvested the first row last week, prompted by the sudden appearance of a fungal looking disorder on some of the pods. Usually I let them dry on the sticks, but the ones in the header were quickly blanched and put in the freezer. This anyway means they are much quicker to cook – favourites in chilli, re-fried beans and bean soup.

I’ve been keeping my eye on the second row. They are at the other end of the plot, and seem to be drying nicely with no signs of infection. I showed the diseased pods to the Resident Plant Pathologist chez Farrell i.e. Dr. Graham, but all he said was, ‘It’s probably due to the funny weather.’ Which is a bit like going to the G.P.’s surgery with an ailment and being told: ‘there’s a lot of it about.’ Ah well. As long as I have lots of pods to shell I’m happy. Until you open them you never know quite what colour the beans will be. I’m easily pleased. When all is said and done, they are SO very beautiful.

The basket is a favourite too – made by the Tongabezi people of southern Zambia (they who were forcibly displaced from their ancestral Zambezi Valley lands by the British in the 1950s so Lake Kariba and the hydro-electricity dam – between what was then Northern and Southern Rhodesia – could be constructed.) I bought it long ago in the museum shop in Livingstone, near Victoria Falls. The beans are also grown in Africa where they are called Rose Coco, and sold by farm mamas who measure out the quantities in old (scrubbed) jam tins at their roadside market stalls.

It’s interesting the apparently unrelated resonances that, well, resonate down one’s personal time-line on a Monday morning here on Wenlock Edge.

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copyright 2018 Tish Farrell

In the Pink #17

Things One Finds In the Godetia!

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Godetia is another ‘good old gardener’s’ annual flower that I grew from seed this year. They are a bit pink for my taste, but very obliging. This particular plant is accompanying the chives and some Persian basil in a pot by the kitchen door and, flower-wise, is taking over blooming duty from the drumhead alliums which are now palely drooping. Yesterday it was also hosting a new bug – new to me that is. You can spot it making an entrance top right.

When I first glimpsed it, I thought it might be a dreaded crimson lily beetle, though I don’t grow lilies. They have very nasty habits (their larvae, very cunningly for larvae, disguise themselves from predators by coating themselves in black excrement while they chomp through the lilies, bud and leaf).

A closer look, however, revealed…

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… and after a few quick snaps, sent me searching on the internet, where after googling ‘orange and black bug UK’ its ID was swiftly established. So here it is, a cinnamon or rhopalid bug Corizus hyoscyami. Originally only common in southern Britain, it is now spreading. This one is probably newly emerged, August to September being the time slot for a new generation. It likes dry habitats, and has no unpleasant habits:  i.e. it does not emit smelly effusions that some other bugs are wont to do. Nothing I read indicated culpability in the plant damage department. So, until I learn otherwise, I think we may simply admire it for its very snazzy livery.

Later it hopped over to the Persian basil, where I thought it looked particularly fetching.

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Six Word Saturday

 

Popping Up Among The Doronicum – Crocosmia

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The squeezing of HeWhoBuildsSheds’ new shed into the small back garden last year meant the loss of a herbaceous border. I didn’t mind too much, although it was a challenge to find new homes for the plants. Some were sacrificed altogether; some were thrown over the hedge to take their chances; some were planted outside the back fence in the guerrilla garden, some were put in next door’s guerrilla garden (I’ve started a trend) and others were just put somewhere.

Then in the spring, as soon as the tulips were over, Shed Development Phase 2 was thrust upon me. This meant moving more plants in order to create enough space to turn one flat bed into a raised bed so that the shed could have its own gravel forecourt and thus be accessible in all seasons. This also included digging up what was left of the lawn. The upshot of this HouseThatJackBuilt ‘school of gardening’ (fortunately no cows’ horns were crumpled in the process) is that much of what is happening out there now is a complete surprise.

For instance, I have no memory of how this crocosmia arrived among the doronicum. On the other hand, I do feel I need to give it a round of applause for cutting such a horticultural dash. Well put, that flower, however you got there.

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Six Word Saturday

Please visit Debbie. This week she has some handy advice!

Townsend Meadow ~ Waiting For Rain And A Bit Of A Ramble About Wild Oats

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Last night as I was watering at the allotment, dark clouds were building up in every quarter. I was sure it was going to rain. But no. By 8 pm they had moved off, leaving a strange red mist effect over Wenlock Edge. Beneath it the rapeseed crop is tinder dry and a deepening shade of copper. The wild oats on the path edge are ripening too – their cuneiform seed heads turned from green to pale ochre. I’m becoming a bit obsessed with trying to photograph them. They seem to reflect light that lends itself to a touch of abstraction.

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The Wild Oat Avena fatua  is of course the parent plant of our cultivated oat and fully edible. It possesses the same valuable B vitamins and minerals: manganese, magnesium, potassium, iron, and chromium. Oats are very soothing to the system, apparently reducing inflammation. They also contain powerful antioxidants and are rich in fibre.

Wild oats, however, are considered a crop pest, especially in wheat, reducing the crop by up to 40%. They are also becoming resistant to herbicides, which fact certainly seems to be supported by their continued presence in Townsend Meadow, where they receive lots of herbicide doses every year. This is rather making me think that we should all be eating oats instead of wheat – without added glyphosate that is. Some of us might start feeling a lot better than we do after eating wheat products.

My Derbyshire farming ancestors seemed to have lived on oats, turned into tasty pancake-like oat cakes and made from a slightly fermented batter. Eaten with farm-made cheese and butter of course, and doubtless washed down with homebrewed ale.  A good number of them lived into their late eighties and early nineties. Some of them were known to go in for a little prize fighting and were quite famed for their prowess in the ring – and that was only the women.

And apart from all this, a handful of rolled oats tied up in some muslin, soaked in warm water and applied to the skin with some very gentle rubbing, makes the best exfoliant scrub ever.