Sunday, August 01, 2010
Seen On A Lammas Walk
Today is August 1st known as Lughnasagh or Lammas. It's also my 38th wedding anniversary as it happens:) The wheel is turning yet again and this is the beginning of the harvest season. It is the midpoint between Beltaine and Samhain and although people think of August as being summer it is actually the first month of autumn. A walk in the country will produce many signs of this as I found when B Baggins and I went out this morning. Above are rose hips beginning to ripen, the hedgerows are going to look wonderful in a few weeks time as the wild fruit harvest is going to be prolific once again - a sign of another hard winter ahead?
The acorns are beginning to form on the oak trees. These too are going to be abundant which is good news for squirrels,mice,voles, deer and several kinds of birds especially jays.Like squirrels the jays collect and store the nuts ready for the winter. Several of these photographs will look better if you click and enlarge them - especially one near the end with a sort of brown blob in the centre!
This barn was built from bricks left over from the building of Totley Tunnel in the 1890s. The tunnel runs under the moors from Totley to Grindleford and at 3.5miles it is the longest under land tunnel in the UK - at least it was until the very recently opened tunnel near London was built. The bricks used to line the Tunnel were nearly all made locally at Totley brickworks and it was built by men using explosives and shovels to tunnel through the earth. However I digress!
Rowan berries - always the first to ripen. There are a lot of them around here as they are one of the few trees that can survive the harsh moorland environment.
Holly berries - still green as yet and regrettably in a privately owned field so unavailable for use at Yule! I must check the place where I usually get my holly.....
This sheep is one of two pet sheep and she always comes to say 'hello' as we pass. She'd like to get closer to B Baggins and he'd like to get closer to her too! Regrettably he's a sheep chaser so I have to be very careful where I let him off the lead round here.
These are alder cones and they will eventually turn a dark brown. The alder tree is native to the British Isles and grows near rivers and lakes and in boggy ground. Its wood doesn't rot in wet conditions and indeed becomes as hard as stone when left immersed in water and because of this it was used in the construction of bridges, particularly the long heavy piles driven into the ground or sometimes under water to support it. This quality for long endurance under water also made it valuable for pumps, troughs and sluices.
The soft colours and lush growth are typical of this time of the year. The woods and hedgerows are quiet during late July and August as this is the period when the exhausted bedraggled adult birds rest after the hard work of raising their young. They are moulting now and will eventually reappear with strong, pristine new feathers which will help to see them through the cold winter months.
These are the seeds of Sweet Cicely which grows wild in a good many places round here. The whole plant smells of aniseed and I love to bruise the leaves as I pass to release the scent. The leaves can be stewed with rhubarb or gooseberries and if you do this you can reduce the amount of sugar that you use. The seeds can be used in cookery too, in fact the entire plant can be used for various purposes. I have it growing in my garden and it's one of my favourite herbs partly because I love the name. Its Latin name is Myrrhis odorata.
A rather beautiful hoverfly on a pale lavender thistle flower.
All the many varieties of grasses are ripening now, this graceful, ethereal plant has the rather unromantic name of hairy brome, not a name guranteed to set the pulses racing!
Bindweed is a name to put fear into the hearts of all gardeners but its flowers are really very beautiful.
This is a real favourite of mine - the delicate purple flowers of Woody Nightshade along with the green berries that by September will be a spectacular transluscent scarlet. With the sun on them the berries positively glow and are one of the real beauties of autumn for me. It's a very poisonous plant though so never be tempted to try one of the berries!
You'll need to enlarge this photo to see someone showing considerable joie de vivre!
Who, me? Rolling about on the grass? Certainly not!
Remember the brick built barn? This is the stone built farmhouse that you can see just behind the barn in the earlier photo. Lower Bents farm dates back to at least the early 1600s and possibly a bit more than that, the earliest reference to it is 1621. These days it has a lovely cottage garden which I always enjoy seeing as I pass. I consider myself very fortunate to have so many beautiful and interesting places within walking distance of my house.