Clearly not, though she is a bit ragged round the edges. Anyway, here’s how I caught her on Tuesday when I was passing through the garden en route for the allotment with my bag of compost makings. (The heap building must go on.) This ‘cheap and cheerful’ cottage garden annual (once also known as Clarkia) is an easily grown plant that can usually be relied on to produce clouds of colour throughout the summer and do much self-seeding. This year however, it did not like the prolonged heat one bit. The limp and skinny stems that were produced soon curled up and fainted, and watering the plants didn’t seem to help matters either. I abandoned the cause. But now, heading for Christmas, I find a single plant prevails, driven by the seed-setting imperative. There’s optimism for you.
Those of you who come here often (thank you faithful readers) will know that our cottage garden overlooks a field called Townsend Meadow. Ironically, few of today’s Wenlock residents probably know this unless they have looked at the old tithe map. Doubtless our good neighbour Trevor knows because he has lived his whole life here, and his father before him. The manorial landlord and his agent probably know it too. Anyway, as to origins, the name says all. The field’s present fence-line along the Sytche Brook (which gathers in the run-off from nearby Wenlock Edge) once marked the northerly limit of Much Wenlock.
Of course the town has sprawled beyond it since, but not very far. The presence of two great limestone quarries with their regular programmes of blasting and accompanying dust storms well into the 20th century, probably discouraged development, though did not deter the erection of the Lady Forester Memorial Hospital opened in 1903, now a care home, or in 1953 the building of the Much Wenlock Modern School (now the William Brooks School), the latter proving in 1981 to be well in the flight path of exploding debris from neighbouring Shadwell Quarry when three pupils were injured during a blast. Now the quarries are abandoned and silent, and out on Townsend Meadow it is usually pretty quiet too, apart from the calls of rooks, jackdaws and buzzards. Now and then the farmer arrives with another dose of agri-chemicals.
This field has been our view for twelve years now. We never tire of it, and especially the play of light and cloud movement along the false horizon to the west. I never stop taking photographs of it either – usually on my way to or from the allotment. So here are some of my monochrome images, taken with my Lumix point-and-shoot digital camera on its monochrome setting. i.e. they are not edits of colour images, and some are taken in low light conditions which accounts for the grainy look.
First comes summer and a view that makes me wonder if we should have been calling for ghost busters:
And in winter:
Taken this afternoon on the winter wheat:
Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Field Many thanks to Cee for hosting this challenge.
Scenes in old gold: the Priory parkland above, then the Linden Walk and Field and a view of Windmill Hill:
The Cutlins path, sheep and parish church:
And now the townscape as seen from the allotment:
And a touch of green: winter wheat sprouting in Townsend behind the house (you saw it being sown HERE back in October):
And in the garden: Evereste crab apples, Hesperanthus, and Foxgloves (still flowering today):
And on Remembrance Sunday, Much Wenlock marked the centenary of the ending of WW1 with the lighting of a beacon on Windmill Hill, an occasion (on my part anyway) coupled with the fervent wish that here at least was one lesson from history that the ruling elite might learn from, though it’s showing few signs so far.
Well, it has to be some kind of magic, foxgloves in November. And not just one aberrant stem, but several all set to bloom. And this after last week’s several frosty days. But what a treat to find it flowering outside the back door – its blushed peachy shades looking far too delicate for this autumn outing.
There are other treasures too. In the raised bed at the top of the garden there are delicate cascades of Aster Lady in Black. I bought it at the end of last summer, and it has just now come into its own. It doesn’t grow too large, but has dark stems and feathery leaves and a slightly unruly habit, and while the individual flowers are tiny, the overall effect is perfect for brightening a late season border.
And then there are still some crimson snapdragons and coral hesperantha:
After three solid months of wall-to-wall summer with broiling temperatures and barely a spot of rain, we have skipped a good month or two and landed in autumn. It’s all very disconcerting. Fields are shorn of their grain crops, the stubble cut, bailed, stacked and now being hauled past the house in juggernaut consignments. The muck-spreaders are in action too, top-dressing the hard-baked land for the next crop. Dubious odours waft about the place – some of them human.
Our Midlands water and sewage company do a good trade in what they euphemistically call bio-solids. It has a low-grade, lingering pungency, but having recently watched a BBC documentary on the Secret Life of Landfill (a brief horror clip HERE on YouTube), I’m glad something useful is being done with the stuff. Animal waste also has to be recycled and one morning this week we had four tractors, grisly muck-spreading tanks in tow, thundering in convoy up and down Sheinton Street – to and from somewhere for and with some very potent slurry.
More scenically, early on Saturday evening as we were driving over to friends in neighbouring Staffordshire, we saw two tractors ploughing the red sandstone soil in tandem, a flock of seagulls swirling after them.
I keep wanting to yell, hang on! It’s still summer. Except the sudden 10 degree drop in temperature has me scurrying to the winter vest drawer. But still, out in the back garden it at least looks like summer, so to make up for talk of weird weather and bad smells, here is my August garden gallery. Somewhat perversely, the Morning Glory that has been twining up our small apple tree all summer, has waited for the cool weather to arrive before deciding to flower. A welcome sight, if surprising in the gloomier light. Likewise the Mediterranean-loving zinnias, which have stepped up a gear to full throttle blooming, and continue to be a favourite bee haunt.
The Changing Seasons Please visit host Su for some fine NZ vistas
Lens-Artists #8 Colourful And please visit Tina and the other Lens-Artists. for some ‘colourful’ photography. I hope Tina won’t mind my doubling up here.
Humans love to see the patterns in things. This habit can nurture an aesthetic sensibility and inspire much creativity on the one hand, and it can lead to all manner of misunderstandings and fallacies on the other. Which of us hasn’t at least pondered on the ‘meaning’ of a series of pure coincidences, or passingly ‘seen’ a pattern of events that ‘proves’ a conspiracy theory is not a conspiracy theory.
Given the negative propensities of patterning, and the power these may exert on the human mind, it might be as well to take note that this is currently being practised upon us by much of what is reported by the mass media, and the manner in which important issues are presented to us.
There is, to my mind, a constant drip-feeding in relation to particular topics (to name a few: Middle East, Russia, nuclear weapons, climate change, Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, Brexit); a seemingly endless repeating pattern of half-truths, proclamations of absolute guilt without evidence, scape-goating, focusing continuously on the irrelevant, divisive reporting, unproven circumstances presented as fact, and, in the name of that weasel word ‘balance’, equal weight given to the opinions of people who know what they are talking about, and the notions of those who do not believe in evidence/have their own minority axe to grind/are (verging on the) delusional. And the whole lot mashed up into an ‘entertaining’ package of easily digested sound and picture bites, whose patterning then is constantly rehashed/given oxygen by mass spoutings on social media.
It is all very disturbing, and when I think about it, I feel like a pawn in someone else’s nasty game, and that makes me angry. And so I distract myself with things in my little world, though I must say I did have Mark Rothko’s Dark Brown, Grey and Orange vaguely in mind when I took that second photo of the rape seed field beneath a stormy sky – his drive to express the human condition; to move beyond apparent abstraction – while I was visualizing an abstraction of the actual, but also brooding somewhat on the human condition.
But now for some lightish relief from gloomy ruminations: more earth patterns from around Much Wenlock, including some of the abnormally early, done-and-dusted grain harvest. Another kind of pattern?
Lens Artists This week Ann-Christine asks for patterns.
I popped out in the garden at lunch time, armed with my little Canon Ixus, and found it was all go on the bee front. The header flower, Helianthus Capenoch Star was proving very popular. I’d only bought it the other day, to go in the back of the flower bed that I said was ‘officially full’, and it is still in its pot, waiting for a slightly cooler moment to plant it out. In the meantime, it is being much visited. But then that goes for most of the other flowers: zinnias, cosmos, liatris, doronicum, echinacea, rudbeckia, and the self-sown purple toadflax. So many happy buzzing souls.
And then there was also the hoverfly:
Leaning over the garden fence the other morning, I caught sight of a tiny moth flitting about in the guerrilla garden. It stayed while I went indoors to fetch the camera, and obliged me with a few shots. Then I went back inside and googled ‘very small diurnal moth UK’ and ‘images’ and up it popped. A Mint Moth, says the font of some wisdom that is my PC – Pyrausta aurata. The butterfly conservation link also told me that it flew actively in sunshine (which is was doing) and particularly liked spearmint (which is where I found it and where you see it here). I confess a frisson of success: ID done and dusted.
It’s a dainty little thing – 70mm across/ three quarters of an inch. Here are a couple of closer views:
When you suddenly spot one, it’s as if the summer sky has dropped a small fluttering piece of itself. It takes a second or two to register what you have seen, and by then it has gone. For Polyommatus icarus, the Common Blue butterfly is not only small – around one inch across – it is also skittish. I did not attempt a closer shot for fear of spooking it. And then I thought that I didn’t really want a close-up; they have their limitations. Better, I thought, to share the Common Blue much as a I saw it (soft focus and all) on the flowers of creeping thistle beside field path.
You can find out more about the lovely quartet of bloggers who host this photo challenge HERE. Like me, you’re probably already following one or more of them.
I said in an earlier post that plant life was galloping away to flower and set seed all before being fried. Now with the end of July approaching, we have definitely reached the fried stage. I took the header view of Townsend Meadow as I was coming home from the evening’s allotment watering. I thought it captured the day’s residual heat in a ‘baked-to-a-turn’ kind of way, a muted version if you like of Vincent Van Gogh’s Wheatfield with crows, a work that always seems to exude its own hotness. It’s a shame the local rooks did not put in an appearance to complete the scene, but sensibly they seem to be keeping a low profile – no doubt roasting quietly in their treetop roosts on the Sytch where the brook no longer flows.
Rain keeps appearing on the weather forecast, and then disappearing. Today’s promised thunderstorms have blown away. I think we’ve only had one significant watering in two months, and the heatwave looks like continuing.
Up at the allotment the harvest has been hit and miss – much bolting of lettuce and wilting of peas; puny potatoes, though wonderfully free of slug spit. The sweet corn continues to flourish and is starting to form cobs, and there have been loads of raspberries. The courgettes keep coming, and even the squashes are producing. In the polytunnel the Black Russian tomatoes are fat and delicious, and the peppers and aubergines beginning to fruit. All of which means much hauling of watering cans every evening.
Here then, are more scenes of simmering Wenlock in and around Townsend Meadow.
Please visit Su to see her changing season in New Zealand