Nothing More Cheering Than A Marigold


This marigold had its photo taken on 22nd January. She was growing in my strawberry bed, one of several  plants that have spread themselves hither and thither on my allotment plots and been quietly flowering all winter. They make their own sunshine, don’t they. Though I think even they will have been defeated by the current Siberian onslaught. I have not ventured over the field to see.

For hundreds of years the marigold has been much loved by herbalists. Its properties comprise a complete pharmacy – from healing skin conditions to boosting the immune system and many disorders in between. I usually just add the petals to salads, or as a garnish to rice dishes. The colour alone is enough to lift the spirits.

I’m also hoping that Debbie and Becky won’t mind my killing two challenges with one marigold:

Six Word Saturday  Please visit Debbie to see a very shaggy sheep.

March Squares For this month Becky has set us the daily challenge of posting square photos featuring either squares or circles. You may post as inclination strikes.

Look Out! Wildlife Breakout In Shrewsbury Yesterday

I don’t know what Charles Darwin would have thought about this particular piece of birthplace birthday commemoration on his behalf. Yesterday the passers by on Wyle Cop, one of Shrewsbury’s most ancient streets, either engaged at full throttle or looked thoroughly bemused. It was certainly an original idea to devote part of the road to a wildlife reserve (Wild Cop), and to turn an empty nearby shop into a rain forest wherein children could also pick up their wildlife activity sheets to fill in during half term week.

It turned out to be part of the town’s Darwin Festival – held throughout February both to mark the fact that Darwin was born in Shrewsbury (12 February 1809), and to celebrate ‘the origin of independent thinking.’ I’ll second that fine objective. We can’t have too much of it. Now for the animals:







In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.

Charles Darwin

Six Word Saturday

Yesterday Along The Lanes In Wenlock


I don’t remember ever seeing lesser celandines flowering in January. They are at least a month too soon, and this one has clearly been around a while, and much rained on. Snowdrops, though, are timely, and they are cropping up everywhere in gardens and wooded margins around the town.


All the footpaths are very waterlogged and slithery. On our walk yesterday it was necessary to stop at intervals to de-mud the boots and stop growing giants’ feet. This also gave me the chance to photograph the highland cattle in the Cutlins meadow, the sheep in the Priory park, and puddles on the track to Bradley Farm. Welcome to Much Wenlock in January.







Six Word Saturday  Please pop over to Debbie’s to see her very astonishing photo

Magic In The Web Of It

I don’t think I’ve every thought about what spiders do in winter – apart from their sneaking into our house and lurking there for the duration. So I was mightily surprised on my way over the field to the allotment yesterday to find lots of webs like these among the tussocks of flattened, snow-emerged grass. I was also surprised to feel the sun warm on my head as I bent down to take this photo.

Up at the allotment, and despite the sudden warmth, all was in a state of post-snow-shock. The aged damson tree had lost a branch. The green manure mustard that I’d grown on several plots was sprawled about the place, and my pigeon defence system over the kale completely collapsed. It mostly looked damp and dreary everywhere.


But I did spy some field beans sprouting, and the self-seeded marigolds were flowering heroically. I plucked a few leeks, and leaves of perpetual spinach, chard and kale.


Then I wandered around other people’s plots, looking at what was what. At first I thought my only company was a wren, flitting like a little moth in the greengage tree.  But when I reached the big conifer on the allotment boundary, I spotted a Goldcrest foraging in its branches – our tiniest British bird (I think) apart from its cousin the Firecrest. And then there were the blackbirds feasting on a hoard of fallen apples. None of them stayed around to be photographed though.


And that included the kestrel who was using the summit of an ash tree as a look-out post. It flew off as I drew near.  And it was then I noticed a very strange mist creeping across the farm fields towards the town. Some shape-shifting solstice invader masquerading as miasma…?


P.S. “there’s magic in the web of it” is from Shakespeare’s Othello

Six Word Saturday  Please pop over to Debbie’s for more 6SW offerings.

A Giant Pineapple In The Garden?


In the 18th century Britain’s landed rich expended their often questionably-gotten gains in the creation of pleasure parks around their grand houses. These were places for promenading, a little sporting activity (fishing, sailing, archery), for re-enactments of famous naval battles (if you had your own lake); there were ‘eye-catcher’ summer houses, grottos, fake ruins, and classical temples. It was also the era of wholesale removal of villages from the sight-lines of the gentry in the ‘big house’. Garden tunnels were also dug so the horticultural workforce could go about their labours largely unseen. Above all, these gardens were ‘show off’ places, and if you wanted the best, you employed the likes of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown to design it.

Another show-off item was exotic fruit, especially the pineapple whose possession, in the flesh or as architectural motifs about the house, demonstrated your wealth and prestige. Here at Berrington Hall in Herefordshire there are both pineapples and the surviving landscape contrivances of Capability Brown. The park is magnificent, and Brown’s last stand as a garden designer. The National Trust owners encourage visitors to explore all of it, the Brown vistas currently being celebrated in 21st century style by a series of sculptural works by environmental artists Red Earth.

The Trust is also busy restoring the hall’s extensive walled gardens, and this is where you will find the extraordinary Giant Pink Pineapple Pavilion. It is the work of installation artists Heather and Ivan Morison; their own interpretation of the Georgian garden pleasure principle which included all manner of temporary structures for dining, conducting assignations, or communing with the great outdoors. I think the Georgians would have been suitably impressed, don’t you?


copyright 2017 Tish Farrell

Six Word Saturday – with apologies, Debbie, for lots of extra words.