The Changing Seasons: This Was June

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A Horse Chestnut sun-catcher, as spotted on the old railway line below the Linden Walk. Such a cool and bosky spot on warm summer days, not that we have had very many of those. And we’ve certainly not had ‘flaming June’ except for a couple of windless days when it was warm enough to eat out in the upstairs garden.

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All the same, those few warm days did seem excessively hot to those of us still clinging to our winter underwear and especially to the MacMoo lads in their shaggy coats. They were driven to the shadow-margins of the Cutlins meadow to try and keep cool.

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While out on the Linden Field, human lads stripped off for a spot of football practice.

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In Townsend Meadow behind the house, this year’s crop of field beans is thriving. Early in the spring the plants struggled mightily due to lack of rain, but June’s cycle of showers and intermittent sun and cool temperatures has seen them shoot up and burst into flower. They are a variety of broad bean that produce masses of pea pod sized pods, each packed with several haricot sized beans. In Britain we mostly use them for animal feed and the bulk of the crops are exported to countries like Egypt where they are in great demand for human consumption.

Maybe as a nation, we should be rethinking this. The plants grow well in lacklustre weather, though wind can be problematic. And although the beans are fiddly to pod (I’ve grown my own good crop at the allotment), they are delicious, nutrient rich and only take a minute to steam or boil. The only problem was, this year they were ready all at once, and while I was hoping they would precede the main broad bean crop, the broad beans started cropping early. Upshot: eat the broad beans, freeze the field beans for making refried beans later in the year. But just look at the flowers. Aren’t they extraordinary?

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In the Farrell garden all is getting above itself – especially the cat mint. I don’t know what’s got into it this year. It’s the sort of plant I tend to ignore, nice enough as a wafty foil for more showy plants in summer borders, and that’s about it. But now it seems intent on taking over the upstairs garden, and what with the blue geranium joining in, Graham is having to fight his way through the encroaching undergrowth to reach the shed.

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Meanwhile Rose Teasing Georgia has been and gone. Lovely while she was with us looking in at the kitchen door. She should flower again later in the summer:

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Over the garden fence in the guerrilla garden where all the late summer bloomers are busy putting on stems metres tall, Geranium Anne Thomson is fighting her corner. She’s such a worthwhile garden plant – flowering her socks off all summer:

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And on the downstairs terrace the ruby red Centranthus has been the main June attraction, along with Penelope rose who this year has been growing us huge single stemmed  bouquets, now sadly past their best. She’s a lovely sweet smelling rose – a shrub variety that can be trained to be a climber on shortish walls.

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At the allotment, beans and peas and spuds and beetroot are growing well, tomatoes and salad stuff in the polytunnel, but I’ve not taken many photos apart from ones of the flat-pack cat and the wildflower plots of moon daisies:

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Oh yes, and this evening view of the town as I’m heading home to make supper:

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The Changing Seasons Ju-Lyn and Brian are the hosts. Please pay them a visit.

Laid Out At The Allotment: Flat-Pack Cat

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There are two long-abandoned plots next to mine at the Wenlock allotments. On recent late-day visits to my polytunnel, the sun still hot, I’ve found this allotment cat (one of several feral felines who haunt the place) stretched out between two dismantled shed panels. The pose says it all: absolute bliss.

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Here’s its sibling. Both cats seem to make a living on the allotment. In fact I think they were born here and don’t seem to belong to anyone. I dare say there are plenty of rodents to hunt. And now I think about it, there are certainly fewer birds foraging on the plots. In the winter, one or other sleeps in my polytunnel.

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And here’s another regular prowler, doing a good little leopard imitation:

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The Changing Seasons: May 2022

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Poppy time on  my allotment plot, the oriental perennials I grew from seed last year. I’d been hoping for a range of colours, but it looks as though they are all turning out to be tomato soup red. I should not complain. This bunch are brightening the spot in front of my shed.

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Otherwise at the allotment, the globe artichokes are going bonkers, arriving far earlier than expected. We’ve already polished off several. By contrast, the early potatoes are making a slow start, their green tops only beginning to sprout last week. Parsnips, on the other hand, have germinated well, this time sown in a large builders’ tub, and the onion sets are making their first green shoots. Beetroot, cauli and cabbage seedlings have been successfully planted out and the broad bean plants are flowering magnificently.

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In the home garden all is alliums and aquilegias, valerian and catmint. The apple blossom is long gone, quickly dispersed by May’s repeated rounds of wind and rain, but a few days ago I noticed there were lots of tiny apples forming – on the Coxes and the crab apple trees.

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Meanwhile around the town, all is lush in the fields beside the Cutlins path – shaggy sheep on one side, young MacMoos on the other, up to their knees and noses in buttercups. And oh yes, don’t forget to watch the sky. Looks like there’s another downpour coming:

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Nearby, on the Linden Field all is bursting green. The cricket season is upon us, the pitch well fettled, and lads in the nets  honing batting skills.  As ever, the Linden Walk is the favoured resort of walkers and runners and lately been proving a welcome resort out of the persistent chilling wind.

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But as you can see, the spring growth hasn’t in the least minded the ongoing coolness, and it’s certainly made the most of May’s sudden spate of unseasonal downpours. He who has given up binding books for the making of small and interesting occasional tables tells me it’s supposed to be getting warmer now June’s arrived. And yes, I think at last I can believe him. Today the sun is out, and best of all, the wind has dropped. In the greenhouse the French beans are surging out of their pots and the sweet corn seeds have germinated, and up in the upstairs garden, rose Teasing Georgia is strutting her stuff. Happy days.

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The Changing Seasons: May 2022  Brian at Bushboy  and Ju-Lyn at Touring My Backyard are the kind hosts of this monthly challenge. Please go and see what they have been doing during May.

Every Little Thing

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Out on the line – an unexpectedly good drying day in February

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This week at Lens-Artists, Amy asks us to show her things that make us smile. So here are some of the happenstance little-big things that, at various times, have caught my eye or otherwise brightened my day:

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A neat little cloud traversing Townsend Meadow

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Finding I’d grown a rather good cauliflower at the allotment

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Spotted in the garden sage bush

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Spring sun-catchers: crab apple flowers…

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…that in autumn become perfect tiny apples

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The Linden Walk in full summer leafiness

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Lens-Artists: Every Little Thing

Spring Curves

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Alder catkins catch the sun in the Linden Field

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Spring came to Wenlock this week, both time-wise and weather-wise. We’ve had lunch in the garden three days running. Astonishing for March! Full-on sun and a general bursting of buds and blooms in every quarter. Even the moss on the garden steps has switched to hyper-green mode.

Over the road in the Linden Field there are prairies of wild garlic leaves just begging to be plucked for sauces and soups. In fact such  is the vegetative imperative of this particular plant, it’s to be found sprouting from the lime tree hollows on the Linden Walk. At the top of the field, under the oaks, the daffodils are at peak perfection. Also growing there are wood anemones, dog’s mercury, violets and primroses. Then beside the Cutlins path the horse chestnut trees are now a mass of sticky buds. And at home in the garden the white japonica is looking its serene best.

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This week Ann-Christine at Lens-Artists asks us to show her curves.

Lens-Artists: Curves

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.

Purple on the plot: bean flowers

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Aren’t they amazing! I was astonished this week when I saw the colour of this year’s field bean blossom. They’ve never turned out like this before.

The beans were sown back in October and the plants were around six inches (15cm) tall when winter struck. I was surprised how well they survived the recurring frosts.

Once they start flowering, they often put on a growth spur which means staking may soon be required. One year they grew nearly as tall as me. But in any event, by early summer each plant will produce a mass of small pods with miniature broad (fava) beans inside.

They are usually grown by farmers for animal feed. They also make good winter cover to protect the soil, dug in the following season as green manure. This is done before flowering. Which means NO BEANS. Which would be a shame. They are delicious (if you like broad beans) and make a very tasty version of humus. Also good for the Tex-Mex refried beans approach. But for now we can just admire the extraordinary flowers. I’m only sorry I can’t pass on their wonderful scent.

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Life in Colour: Purple

Six Word Saturday

“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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