Of itself the field behind our house (Townsend Meadow) is not very interesting. It is simply a farm field, much subjected to agrochemicals in order to produce year on year wheat, or rape, or oats, or field beans or barley. On days when the light is flat it is plain dull. Most of the time it is the activity above it that catches my eye – cloud movements, and the odd effects created by a false horizon which obscures the further horizon of Wenlock Edge where the ground drops off a few hundred feet to the Shropshire Plain below. But there are moments when the quality of light bestows a certain glamour. Somewhat astonishingly the header photo was taken at first light one February morning – a piece of magic all its own since February in England is rarely a scenic month unless one is thinking about carpets of snowdrops.
Here are some more ‘best’ moments – over the garden fence, or from the office skylight.
Lens-Artists: It’s all about light Many thanks to Tina for this week’s theme. Please go and see her very inspirational gallery of light works.
And here it is:
…a male Holly Blue butterfly Celastrina argiolus on the sedum. Blue butterflies tend to be very skittish, and as far as I know I’d not seen a Holly Blue before, though they are quite common. This one was also very shy, and after he flitted off to feed on the oregano flowers would only show me his underwings. But still, they are also very pretty – at first sight white, but then a shimmer of iced blue.
copyright 2021 Tish Farrell
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.
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.
Tree Square #4 This month Becky wants to see trees (header shot) in square format.
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.
Life in Colour: Yellow
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.
Life in Colour
This month Jude at Travel Words is asking us to consider the beauty of BROWN – earth colours.
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.
Monochrome with a hint of green. (See previous post).
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
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.
Lens-Artists: Delicate Colours This week Ann-Christine asks us to show her some delicate colours.
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.