Archives for the month of: June, 2015

Sunny Saturday in the Meadow

Summer makes a brief appearance, sunshine over the flowery lea. From sunrise to dusk, parent swallows swoop and dive, sweeping up midges by the beak-full. In the high nest, swallow babies screech a welcome awaiting their fill and then silence until the flutter of wings creates once more their noisy response.

 Covered in CloverWarm humid air perfumed with the sweet, honeyed scent of white clover, languid drone of bees tumbles lazily over the bright garden.

Breakfast patio

Coffee and pastries taken in the bright sunshine, scanning the morning paper, relishing the surprising warmth. Sounds of the burn trickling by; a variety of birdsong, disembodied voices of passing cyclists, the scolding swallows as they plunge through the open shed door.

Wild flower meadow

A simple wild-flower meadow, bringing joy but alas one is unable to traverse the garden without returning with sodden shoes. So before we need a scythe rather than the mower and the rain returns, hubby cuts the grass.

Midsummer sunset

Midsummer has passed and this is a far as the sun will travel, but still the sunsets enthral and amaze us.

DuskThe light fades slowly over the quiet sea, waves break quietly on the far shore. Sometimes we rush around, filling the hours with busy-ness but the past three Saturdays have been bright and sunny. Although so much demands attention, I choose to rest in the sunshine, finishing my book, feeling grateful…

But now its Monday and many tasks clamour for attention, so shaking off my reverie I will rise and face the day!

Thanks for stopping by have a great week!

( Would heartily recommend Medicine Walk – Richard Wagamese )

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Impressionism - the Lawn

Scrolling through the “Blogs I follow”  when I noticed  a Wordless Wednesday post entitled Blur. By happy coincidence I had my own. A timely accident on the way through the garden – my clover rich lawn!

I like Impressionism; reminded me of Monet, but I also like Pre-Raphaelite painting too.

If you could own any picture in the world – what would you choose?

and wait…

Haloed sun

 In the dwindling light

I wait;

listening for your voice

As far north as the sun will travel

Whispered words of comfort

and calm,

poured out like balm

Raining lightSpilling over 

enfolding, soothing;

lulled to rest

~

I can never be less than amazed by sunsets, light over the sea falling behind the mountains. Reflected light, playing through the cloud, lighting up the land. Entreating me to stop; pause; pay attention. This too will pass, for one brief moment, be quiet and wait…

Thanks for stopping by –  may you find beauty surrounding you today 

Four a.m. as I wander down stairs, Oscar greets me from the window sill where he has been watching the birds stirring in the light of the new day. Hubby has an early flight, when he leaves the house returns to sleep mode. Waking to the sound of rain on the roof and a sullen grey sea and sky, doesn’t look like summer is arriving any time soon.

Breakfast over and the rain stops, chickens fed, eggs gathered, time to garden. The grass needs cut but I don’t have the heart to mow the wild flowers blossoming in the grass. Daisies follow the sun turning their faces upward towards its warmth. White clover fragrances the air drawing in the bees, Orange Hawkweed stands to attention, lifting their oranges faces to the sun. Purple chives resound to the drone of bumble bees and hoverflies; butterflies flit lazily over the garden while swallow parents snatch midges from the air to feed the hungry brood. Sparrows are rebuilding their nest getting ready for a second brood. Tonight will be the shortest night but sunset was somewhat subdued as a soft rain fell again. Subdued sunset before the shortest night

 

Night has fallen, wrapping the garden in darkness but in a few short hours the new dawn will herald the Summer Solstice and hopefully summer.

Thanks for stopping by today – enjoy the Solstice

 

or knowing your Dead Nettles

Funny how you can go through life mis-naming things. If it looks like a Dead Nettle, feels like a Dead Nettle, and an adult in the dim and distant past called it that – then surely it is a Dead Nettle? Well, that ain’t necessarily so…

Red Dead Nettle?

There are many of these growing at the margins of the woodland garden, soft, downy leaves, square stem and red lipped (labiate) flowers. It looks very similar to this flower…

White Dead Nettle

White Dead Nettle (Lamium album), this is from a plant brought back from a wood shop on the east coast. It grew happily in the city garden and the small piece that came to the country garden is happily growing under the hedge. Feeling pleased that it took off really well, but perplexed when another plant appeared all over the garden looking very similar in its early form…

Hemp Nettle

But the veining is quite different, it feels rough and dry but similar white flowers. (I know I identified it two years ago but again filled with doubt. It’s not Lamium but possibly Hemp Nettle (Galeopsis tetrahit L )…

Yellow Archangel

And then there’s Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon), spreading out from the small cutting brought with us; only to discover it rampant beside the burn. Sporting bright yellow labiate flowers…

Red Dead Nettle seedling

This little plant is all over the “orchard” (I use the term loosely as I let the wild flowers self-seed and now it’s a matt of – well – weeds!) Having identified it, content in the knowledge, I promptly forgot its name.

Tools of the Trade

So, what I really needed was a good plant ID book (I like Julian Barker), my hand lens and my Grandmother’s old nineteenth century books “Familiar Wild Flowers“. (If you use Maude’s  A Modern Herbal – she lifts whole chunks of these books and places them in her own!)

Plant ID

Gathering all the leaves, observing the leaf-shape, leaf margins, veining, leaf arrangements. Comparing colour, texture, smell…

Red Dead Nettle

So this little plant is Red Dead Nettle (Lamium purpurea) a common farmland plant. The leaves may be used to stop bleeding and as a bruise-herb, Mr Barker suggests that young shoots could be cooked with chives in a little butter.

Red Dead Nettle?

So, the plant I thought was Red Dead Nettle? I think it could be Hedge Woundwort (Stachys sylvatica), when the leaves are crushed it smells like Ballota nigra (Black Horehound). Quite different from Wood Betony (Stachys betonica) which is a really useful herb for headache and neuralgia.

Good advice when wild harvesting or foraging is “if in doubt leave it out” and don’t take more than you need, leave enough for the wild life that shares your community.

Since returning to the country I have re-learned so much that I had forgotten, un-learned things I thought were right and keep on learning and discovering.  As a learned herbalist reminded me ” A good herbalist realises that the more they know the more there is still to learn.” So, here’s to learning…

What did you learn today that surprised you?

(There is so much info on the web and not all of it is correct so don’t take my word for it, please, if you are planning to use herbs, do spend time learning and invest in a good wild flower book to help you.)

 

 

Purpled sunsetTime is a strange commodity, it can hang heavily or slip away like sand in the hand. Suddenly it’s Wednesday again and almost a week since I posted though I took photos, wrote posts in my head but never took the time to sit and write. To be fair we have had a week of lovely weather, the old porch demolished and foundations in, a new patio laid and the beginning of steps into the garden. Court yard has been scraped and the rubbish from the first build removed and it’s been gardening weather. Plants potted on, planted out, sown, weeding – all at once – everything has sprung to life or as my mum would say “gone chung”…

Wild strawberries - gone wild!

The wild strawberries have gone a bit mad but inspired by the Rialto market in Venice, I want to be able to pick a punnet of sweet, ripe wild strawberries…

Wild Strawberries

Like these…

Wren nestlings

A few short weeks ago and it was just a little nest full of eggs, then nestlings and suddenly empty – where do they go?

Room for one tiny wren

Walking with Oscar in the evening and suddenly a little brown bird flits out from a tiny hole, by the door jam, in the old shed. Its gape gives it away, a young wren has found a home here.

Rescued from the builders

The garden is filled with flowers, already the peonies and Aquilegia are almost over, Lady’s mantle has finally blossomed. After a nights rain the veg garden is also beginning to thrive, peas and beans popped out overnight but too much still in the greenhouse.

Veg gardenRecently a celebrity gardener suggested that if you wanted German Chamomile then use a dry tea bag, well I have tried twice now and had no success but my own is doing fine. (Hence the gaps.)

Somehow weekends go more quickly than any other days, shopping, buying more gardening essentials but as everyone was feeling poorly; Saturday afternoon was spent in the company of the chickens. Sitting in my new Muskoka chair from Francis Bay. Taking time to read a new book from my sister “Medicine Walk” by Richard Wagamese, beautifully written story of  an estranged father and son but only half way through. Celebrating Mum’s 93rd birthday with extended family, part of a singing group in the evening…

Then it’s Monday again and back to catching up, keeping on and falling behind – funny how that ten minute task always takes much longer. So here we are; Wednesday almost over, didn’t achieve half of what I wanted to do – that’s the thing about time;  ” time slips away just like hourglass sand

Carpe diem!

(but for now it’s bedtime – goodnight! 😀 )

“A gardener who knows his flowers but is ignorant of weeds now seems to me to be like half a coin, a tail without a head”

Sara Stein  – My Weeds (1988)

After several days of bright sunshine, the rain came, refreshing the flowers, urging the seedlings into life. The “lawn” is full of wild flowers, Orange Hawkweed, various Vetches, Yellow Hawkweed, Clover and Daisies. There are so many birds in the garden; the wrens, sparrows and dunnocks have all fledged, swallow eggs have hatched. Somewhere in the woods the song thrush and blackbird babies hide in the undergrowth. Sometimes I just need to sit in the garden and be rather than do and enjoy Nature’s wild abundance!

Whatever you do today – enjoy, thanks for stopping by.