I’ve watched this crop of rapeseed developing behind our house since the autumn when it was sown – back to back with the wheat harvest. All through the winter it clung to the ground and was much eaten by pigeons. In April, after a good dosing with agrichemicals, it sprang into life like Jack’s beanstalk, and was soon taller than me. By May is was a sea of acid yellow, that mellowed to gold. This morning at 5.30 am it was turned to copper. As I’m writing this, the field, under the full-on midday sun, is being visited by hosts of cabbage white butterflies.
So it is that the plants have survived deluge, bird predation, gale, blizzard, frost, three lots of snow, and now weeks of ground-baking drought. The plants look almost ready to harvest, although when I inspected a couple of pods last night, there seemed to be precious little seed inside. Which made me think that only the farmers who are harvesting sun with their fields of solar panels will be having a good crop this year.
Here’s a retrospective of Townsend Meadow during 2018.
…we have a forest of Granny’s Bonnets. How did so many of them blow in and settle here?
We do of course confess to a spot of guerrilla gardening on our boundary with the field, and this does involve a tacit understanding with any passing flower life that if we clear back the couch grass and other less interesting invaders outside our hedge, wall and fence, then they are welcome to drop in for the spring and summer season. Two years ago we had the profusion of opium poppies. Then there was a borage jungle. This year the aquilegias are claiming the stage.
Further along the boundary behind our old privies, creamy flowered comfrey has also arrived, and feverfew is a frequent visitor there too. Beyond the privies is the fence, upon which he-who-builds-sheds-and-binds-books likes to lean while ruminating on the next project. Here I have encouraged purple-spired toadflax, wild stock, pink campion, moon daisies and foxgloves to multiply and, in the past, scattered corn cockle seeds that now self-propagate and put on annual show. I also move any ‘spare’ herbaceous perennials out there too – especially plants of the late summer, clump-forming variety that will stand in when the wildflowers have gone their way: Rudbeckia, perennial sunflowers, Golden Rod, Michaelmas daisies, phlox and helenium.
It’s a sort of give-and-take gardening with borrowed landscape (and in every sense). It gives great pleasure, not only to us, but to anyone passing on the field path. You never quite know what will be happening out there. At present, too, the rapeseed blooms are providing a golden backdrop. Though not for too much longer because, even as I am writing this, the crop is busy setting seed. Then it will be on to the next scene at the guerrilla garden theatre. Us the ever-willing audience.
copyright 2018 Tish Farrell