Yippee For Yellow!

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It’s that time of year when thoughts turn to seed sowing, or at least to sorting out the seed packets and checking what needs to be dealt with when. There are visions, too, of new planting schemes – as in trying to remember where things are in the garden. With some plants you never do know. The Welsh poppies are complete vagabonds and can pitch up in the most unlikely quarters. Likewise the dandelions, the little gate-crashers. Needless to say, the garden must have plenty of yellow. Got to keep the bees, bugs and butterflies well fed. In the meantime, here’s a reprise of some of last summer’s best yellows.

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Life in Colour: Yellow

Uplands: Wenlock In Shades of Brown

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It is rather strange, but when you are wandering round Much Wenlock you are hardly ever aware of its upland surroundings. Yet it sits in a steep-sided bowl between the upthrust strata of Wenlock Edge and various residual hills and hummocks from Ice Age days. It is a place of natural springs and erstwhile saintly wells, with hints, too, from ancient finds that its waters may well have been venerated in Roman times. It was doubtless the reason why the Saxon Princess Milburga established her convent here around 670 CE, ‘cleanliness being next to godliness’ and so on.  She was the subject of many local legends, most of them relating to her fleeing the unwanted attentions or lusty males, while conjuring protective streams and rivers to thwart her pursuers. The water from the town well named after her was believed to restore poor eyesight.

The priory ruins and parish church you see in these photos date from six and more centuries after Milburga, belonging mostly to the Norman era wherein the invaders sought to dominate the local populace with overbearing architecture. Wenlockians, though, knew how to take some advantage from the situation. It was said that the best ale in town was brewed from rainwater collected from the church roof.

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SquareUp #19

Life in Colour

This month Jude at Travel Words is asking us to consider the beauty of BROWN – earth colours.

The Changing Seasons ~ November 2020

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I could swear it was only yesterday I was compiling October’s Changing Seasons post. Fascinating how time flies under lockdown and loss of civil liberties. Still, here on the Edge things are peaceable if rain-sodden, though we have been blessed with some perfect-sun interludes.

On rain-free days my gardening mind has mostly been on leaf collecting. This year the field maple and oak have been delivering double servings on the lane beside the allotment so I don’t have far to go to fetch them. I have created various ad hoc silos out of wire to store them, and this method does seem to speed up decomposition. Though adding some comfrey leaves and grass cuttings also helps. Anyway, already by September last autumn’s leaf stores had yielded sufficient quantities of chocolatey compost to give the summer raspberries a good, deep mulching.

There is also much tidying to be done on the allotment plots – taking down the bean poles, turning compost heaps, netting winter greens against pigeon attack. There’s still been lots to pick on the outside beds – beetroot, carrots, leeks, some chard and perennial spinach. The polytunnel goes on producing too. I took out the last of the tomato plants this week. As each plant finished I’ve been using the space for spinach, lettuce, kohl rabi, Russian kale and cauliflower seedlings. At the moment they are still growing, and I even had to remove some highly unseasonal caterpillars. I also have a very impressive bed of coriander, and some Chinese mustard greens. How they will all over-winter is a matter of waiting and seeing, but at the moment there’s plenty to make a good green salad. Lots to be happy about.

 

The Changing Seasons: November 2020

Please visit Su to see her New Zealand November gallery.

In The Evening Sun ~ Lemon Balm

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In these viral days – virtual and actual – we could probably all do with some regular infusions of lemon balm tea. Medical herbalists prescribe it for anxiety, shock, insomnia and all round jangled nerves. Simply brushing your fingers against the stems fills the air with a lemony minty freshness that lifts the spirits. Last night as I was standing at the kitchen door, waiting for the couscous to fluff up, I saw these sprigs among the montbretia leaves, briefly lit by the last of the sun – a glow to savour then between our present squalls of wintery rain and high winds. Last Saturday it was all heat and high summer here in Shropshire. This Saturday the weather clock has regressed to early March. Strange times all round. Time to brew some lemon balm methinks.

Six Word Saturday

Delicacy In Decay ~ The Doorstep Amaryllis

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In April’s Changing Seasons post I featured the amaryllis that was part of a neighbourly doorstep plant swap. It was a single bud when I acquired it, but over the following couple of weeks the bud opened into four flowers which bloomed and then drooped in picturesque tones, their texture suggesting fine raw silk. I’m thinking Sue at WordsVisual will quite like these.

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Lens-Artists: Delicate Colours This week Ann-Christine asks us to show her some delicate colours.

A Cool Himalayan Blue

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Now here’s a change of style from our roadside show-offy red poppies posted earlier in the week: Meconoposis Lingholm, a blue Himalayan poppy.  It is a newcomer to the shady, behind-the-shed corner of the Farrell domain. I bought it  last autumn on-line from the very excellent Ballyrobert Gardens in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. (It’s amazing what excellent plants people you can discover in the gardening section of ebay.)

The poppy was little more than a large ‘plug’ when it arrived with the rest of my order. I dithered about, wondering whether to pot it on (and worry about it freezing in its pot if we had a hard winter) or to plant it out while it had time to establish itself, but still hope that we wouldn’t have a hard winter. I opted for the latter course, and then it poured with rain for the next five months, with hardly a sign of frost. And so I worried instead that it would get water-logged and rot. When it died down, leaving not one single trace of itself, I thought I’d lost it.

Which just goes to show you can do a lot of worrying about nothing. Besides, I knew very well that I’d taken the best care I could when I planted it. Anyway, the rather hairy leaves started poking through the mulch in April and the single bloom began opening about a week ago with another bud behind it. But what a floral wonder! I’m hoping it’s going to thrive now, though mostly only Graham will get the benefit. I planted it to give him a view from his shed window while he’s grinding and drilling and making odd constructions that only he understands.

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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

The Changing Seasons ~ April Inside Looking Out

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This amazing amaryllis is one of this month’s several gifts: the result of a ‘doorstep swap’ with neighbour Sue. One of the consequences of being ‘confined to barracks’ has been the sudden sell-out of all garden seeds and sundries. If you didn’t do your orders back in January and February then getting hold of tomato seeds for instance can be proving a challenge. Sue hadn’t, but I had, so earlier this month I gave her some assorted seedlings, while she gave me the amaryllis (a plant I have never before possessed and at the point of exchange just a single fat bud) and then later she dropped off some mange tout and French bean seedlings. This week another chum Mary left two pots of young acanthus plants (bear’s breeches) in the porch, ideal candidates for the guerrilla garden where they are now happily settling in.

April’s other big gift was a good two weeks of sunshine, and although some days came with a cruel east wind, the sky has been blue, blue, blue and the apple blossom delicious. And though we are now back to chilly wintery weather at least we have had some rain which was also much needed. (I never thought I’d be saying this after the autumn-winter deluges). And cold or not, the garden is definitely saying ‘SPRING’.

One unintended consequence of seasonal upsurge has been the sprouting of my willow obelisk. Back in March I was given a big bundle of stems. After consulting The School of YouTube, I had a go at making a pot support for sweet peas. It worked out fairly well, but this month it has started growing – along with the sweet peas and some climbing French bean seedlings.  Ah well. I’m thinking the greenery will provide a good ‘backdrop’ for the sweet peas, though I may need to do some serious pruning. I made another smaller obelisk this week. In due course I could have a willow forest.

This month has also meant much labouring at the allotment – four rows and a raised bed of spuds put in, three different sorts of climbing peas and two short varieties planted out; beetroot seedlings in; parsnips sown; weeding, edging, path mowing, compost turning, digging all accomplished. Three cauliflowers have been devoured, while a fourth remains to be made into cauli and potato curry; lots of greens in the polytunnel which need to be eaten to make room for the peppers, tomatoes and aubergine plants. On the home front the conservatory is bursting with seedlings.

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And I also managed to finish re-working a short story – praise be to the deities of creative writing!

The last of my April gifts is the opportunity it has given us for reflection and observation. As I was coming home from the allotment the other evening I noticed how very lovely the hawthorn blossom is when caught at close quarters. I don’t remember every peering into the flowers before. They are quite exquisite. They have a faint dusky scent too. So I picked a sprig and then found some lilac in the hedge along the field path and when I got home popped them in a vase on the kitchen cupboard.

 

 

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The Changing Seasons: April 2020