Tuesday, 7 July 2015


Trees on the skyline - Cothelston Hill, Somerset.
Summit of Cothelston Hill, Somerset.
In May, in a post about The Old Drove Road and Dead Woman's Ditch, I mentioned a dispute over the trees on Cothelston Hill in Somerset. Their roots were disturbing a rabbit warren at a site where there are also Bronze Age remains.. Which should go? Trees or warren? A local and prominent landmark? Or a historic but not immediately visible hang out for rabbits? (Food in the old days!)

The solution? Sensible. The trees (planted only forty years ago) will be felled and new ones planted nearby. (Somerset County Gazette.) Ancient Monument and Modern Landmark preserved. Both.

I hope none of the trees you are following have been destroyed since last you wrote whether by archaeologists or recent lightening! We'll find out.

(P.S. Thanks to Rowan who points out that despite what it says in the article, it can't be a Bronze Age rabbit warren because there weren't any rabbits here then.) 

Incidentally, I took this picture on Saturday (4th July 2015) and I'm writing this on the 6th; and I've just found an article in The Western Morning News  . . . about walking up Cothelston Hill.  It doesn't give the year but perhaps Martin Hesp was up there taking pictures from roughly the same places at roughly the same time as me. Bang goes another post!

I'm Following a Tree
Are You?
Do join us!
More information on the
Loose and Leafy Tree Following Page.
One thing I know for certain (I think!); he won't have been writing about your trees. At least (says she, covering herself) not all of them. Not all on the same day!

So let's hear it from the Tree Followers.

The box will be open from 7th - 14th July.

Sunday, 28 June 2015


Bulbs (hyacinths I think by the look of them) drying on staging in a sheltered
green house with dusty windows at Kingston Lacy.
This is currently my favourite photo and I have it as my desktop picture.
Years ago (literally years (not metaphorically as they would say in Pirates of the Carribean) (July 2011)) . . . I wrote about the way romantic ruins may have brutal histories and took you with me to visit Corfe Castle in Dorset - a popular tourist place but a pace of war too for it was sieged during the Civil War of 1642 - 51 and demolished when the Parliamentarians won. (When a Castle Explodes.) The Civil War was never fun.  But regardless of which side one can imagine ourselves supporting, we are all likely to be impressed by the bravery of (the Royalist) Lady Mary Bankes and the others who held it for six weeks against the Parliamentary siege.

I don't know what happened to the Bankes family next (can anyone tell me?) but in 
1660 their fortunes were restored, along with the monarchy - and in 
1643 they got Sir Roger Pratt to design a new home at Kingston Lacy. 
It was completed two years later - 1645.
1645! Given it's size (and it really is big) I'd say that was pretty good going.

It's now owned by the Natinal Trust and I visited it for the first time earlier this year.
(Remember, I mentioned it in a review about Victoria Summerley's new book 'Secret Gardens of the Cotswolds' (not that Kingston Lacy is in the Cotswolds but we'll pass this by) and annoyed some readers by saying, among other things, that visiting National Trust properties is 'a diversion for the semi-geriatric with nothing better to do'.)

But I really enjoyed it there so . . . thinking there was nothing I'd like more than to re-visit I donned my elderly person attire and went back to potter around as fast as I could.

Now, dear readers, I don't want to put you off Loose and Leafy so whenever you find yourselves wary of anything, please keep a large pinch of salt to hand.

Runner bean poles in the Vegetable Garden. The gardens are pretty as well as practical.
I imagine the marigolds are there as companion planting. (To distract blackfly?)
Here there are chives as well.
Varieties are noted on upturned flower pots..
HOWEVER, all the time I was there I thinking

'how many visitors are here today who don't have white hair?' 

I didn't do an actual count but the answer was . . . tarantara . . . hardly anyone. (And the place was throbbing with visitors. No-where in the large grounds could you co without half a dozen other people being there too.)

Not really surprising, I suppose. It's right out in the country and most un-retired people are at work on Thursdays - and at weekends too. (Though I've been told a lot of younger people become National Trust members for the sake of free car-parking when they meet up with friends at places like Studland Beach.)

Now, there's nothing wrong with having white hair. One of the good (good?) things about blogging is that we are all, nearly all anyway, largely anonymous. So . . . perhaps . . . I have white hair too . . . or green . . . (I've always liked the idea of having green hair or blue, at least bits of it, maybe streaks . . . so one day . . . ) . . .

One of the things I specially like about the gardens at Kingston Lacy
is the way an incredibly efficient way of growing vegetables with a relaxed atmosphere.
Here, an empty small-plant tray lies on a patch where there are scarlet pimpernel.
Bother. Too many brackets and too many dots and not enough about the gardens.

After the semi-geriatric post, Pat (one of whose ancestors was a woodsman there in Victorian times) asked if I'd got as far as the vegetable gardens. Well, I did and didn't. The grounds are enormous and the vegetable gardens are at the bottom of the hill which is a long way from the house and evening was drawing in and I didn't want to get locked in with it. (Pause for breath.) So I took a glance at the neat rows and labels and green houses and cold frames and the outside of the orchid house (though orchids aren't quite vegetables) and other buildings . . . (I mean, as much of a glance as I could manage for the vegetable beds are themselves so vast they rattle off into the distance) and zoomed up and down some of the paths before it got dark. The grounds are pleasant but not right for a February sleep-over (I think it was February) and the gates were ready to close by the time I re-reached the top of the hill . . . 

I could have shown you the fabulous array of scarecrows across the gardens but decided
to go for this damaged strawberry instead for this will be its one moment of fame.
All the other strawberries will be eaten but this one will more likely be cast aside.
But the vegetable gardens were the very part of the gardens I'd wanted to see so, when I went back, I hurried past all the white-haired people snoozing in deck chairs (sorry, I really can't resist this now) and whizzed as fast as my feet would carry me to the bottom of the hill and out of the woods into the glaring sun of the . . . we've made it! . . . vegetable gardens.

Thank heavens for ice-creams and coffee and tables with sun-umbrellas.

And thank heavens too for my camera. I think I would have needed ten ice-creams and ten coffees if I hadn't had it with me as a distraction. No. Of course not. My camera is not a distraction! Goodness no. It's more-or-less the point of going anywhere.

The variety of potatoes planted in this row.

End of post. Goodbye brackets. Stop littering the place with little dots Lucy. Stop making remarks re. the age of National Trust members. (I'll try!)

Sunday, 21 June 2015


I hope I'm inspiring you to look for plants in places other than gardens - specially surprising places like the kerbs of our cities, on the tops of random walls and in the kerbs of residential streets. You can even find ferns growing below ground - in the drains.

There are ten of us who blog about urban wild plants from time to time. You can see a list on the Street Plant Bloggers Page.

I think I may have missed someone. If it's you. I really do apologise. If you let me know, I'll add you in.

You don't have to commit to blogging about urban wild plants every month or anything like that.
Indeed, I only put a box here six times a year.

December    21st - 25th
February      21st - 25th
April            21st - 25th
June             21st - 25th
August         21st - 25th
October        21st - 25th
December    21st - 25th

Street Plant Blogging
An appreciation of
Urban Wild Plants.
I've been trying to devise a logo for Street Plant Blogging - something stark and arresting to show how strong and determined these plants can be. So what about the picture at the top of this page? If you'd like to use it on your blog you might like to use the smaller version here. It's only 219 kb so it won't interfere with the speed your blog comes up on screen.

Click here for Street Plant Posts in June.

(Link box kindly supplied by Mr Linky's Magical Widgets.)