Saturday, August 11, 2018

Lavender, Berries and Poppies

What a strange year it has been so far.  Even at the height of summer there are distinct signs of Autumn  in the hedgerows.

Sun bleached grass paths, mown fields in the distance and the last of the wonderful rows of lavender at the Shropshire Lavender farm.  The lavender flowers were covered in bees and little blue butterflies.  Both hard to capture on camera but the scents and aromas were sending them into a frenzy in the heat of the early afternoon sun.

After coffee with a lavender scone and a piece of lemon and lavender cake - thank you for the recommendation Mrs Tiggywinkle, both were delicious - we wandered around the rest of the garden and orchard.

I love orchards, the warmth, the scent and the colour at this time of year. 


Apples and pears were falling to the floor as branches were weighed down by so many fruits.

 What did strike me though was the amount of berries on each of the bushes and trees around the garden

Above - Rowan Berries


Above - Red Currants

The next day we took an early morning walk at RSPB Coombes Valley

  Here I spotted ripening blackberries.

Crab Apples and below a Red Admiral butterfly more signs of late summer and the closeness of the changing of the seasons.
A few days later we walked along the canal from Westport Lake to Middleport Pottery.

The elder bushes were full of ripe berries, such a wonderful colour to guide us on our way.

As we passed by the pottery we could see the display of poppies which makes up 'The Weeping Window.'  Many of the ceramic poppies from the installation 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Blood' first shown at the Tower of London in 2014 were made in the city so it is nice for some of them to return home for a while.  The exhibition can be seen at Middleport Pottery until 16th September and we will probably visit in early September so I will write more about it then.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

August Garden

After all the heat of the last few week a lot of the garden is looking very brown and dreary but wandering up and down early morning and late evening with watering cans has kept some of the blooms looking quite healthy.  

The free packet of Zinnia seeds we got from the front of a magazine earlier this year have been productive.
 
The first sowing of seeds didn't germinate so a second batch was sprinkled on top of compost in the rather scruffy looking blue plastic tub just as a test and look what happened!

 We've never grown Zinnias before so I was fascinated to see them grow and notice how the petals on each flower seem to layer and thicken as they grow.


Echinaceas have done well this year - this plant has been struggling to produce more than a couple of blooms for three or four summers. 

This year it has produced quite a few flowers and the bees love them.

The Japanese anemones are doing well too after a bit of a set back when some of the leaves scorched and crinkled like paper in the bright sunlight.  We only have pink ones now, the whites seem to have disappeared.

Hydrangeas too have been struggling and have needed lots of water.  The blue one above starts out a bright blue and gradually turns to a soft lilac colour.

At the other side of the garden the flowers are pink. All to do with the pH balance of the soil. 

The sweet peas are still flowering and I keep taking off the seed pods to keep them going.

I was glancing down the path towards the gate when I saw what looked like a sweet wrapper, went down to pick it up and saw the little faces of the flowers of this self-seeded viola looking at me.  It is very small and growing in a crack between the concrete slabs of the path near to where the gate opens.  We've been trying to avoid stepping on it as we go in and out of the gate.

Now the nesting season is over the time has come to cut the holly hedge that runs across the top of the garden.

It's quite a task and the cuttings fill at least three garden wheelie bins over several weeks as we gradually empty the bags we store them in.
 
What is growing in your August Garden?
 

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Saxon Crosses

I've been aware for ages that there were Saxon Crosses to be found in the centre of the town in Sandbach in Cheshire but had never been either to the town or to see the crosses.  It isn't very far to travel up through the Potteries and out into South Cheshire so we decided it was high time for a visit.

The town itself was delightful with many old buildings. We made our way from the Waitrose car park through a modern shopping area into the town.  It wasn't long before we spotted the crosses on The Cobbles.

I thought that perhaps they may have cars parked near them or that perhaps people would be sitting nearby but thankfully they were completely clear and we could take a few photos without intruding on anyone.

 These two crosses are Grade 1 listed, made of sandstone and would originally have been brightly painted and decorated with jewels and metal work. They have been dated to around the 9th Century and are thought to be some of the most important monuments connected to the Saxon Kingdom of Mercia.  The taller of the two crosses is about 16 feet or 4.8 metres high and the smaller is 11 feet or 3.3 metres high.  There was reportedly a third cross.

 The carvings draw heavily on the motifs and techniques of metal working and show the prestige of the jeweller in Anglo-Saxon Society.  There are also Scottish and Continental influences in the depiction of the biblical scenes carved into them.

The first mention of the crosses comes in 1585 when they were to be seen in the market place after the town had been granted a charter for two fairs and a weekly market.   They were dismantled in the 17th century because the Puritans didn't like religious imagery and disappeared into people's garden walls and footpaths. They were found by local antiquarian George Ormerod in the early 19th century (c. 1816) and gradually pieced together.  Similar sandstone was used to replace the missing parts.

There are more pieces to be found in the nearby churchyard. They could be pieces of the third cross. They were moved there for safety in 1950 when the crosses came into the hands of the Ministry of Works.  They are now cared for by English Heritage.

 On one side of the smaller cross is depicted the story of King Paeda of Mercia, son of pagan King Penda, who converted to Christianity c650.

 Here is a link to an article about the crosses which gives a lot more information about their historic background - The Journal of Antiquities


St Mary's Church is quite large and had three wonderful arches under the tower.  The tower sits over a public footpath which passes under the arches.


As I wandered under the arch I spotted the early carved memorial stone below.


It is dedicated to Mary, the first wife of Robert Smith who died in 1687.

Back in the town we had a wander around a few street and shops.  Above is 'Ye Olde Black Beare Inn' built in 1634.  It is the last remaining thatched building in the town centre. 

 Opposite, and not far from the Saxon Crosses is the War Memorial.


The front of the Town Hall which dates from 1889 and retains many of its Victorian Gothic features.  The interior was refurbished in 2013.


 Above the drinking fountain of 1897 is Grade 11 listed and designed by Thomas Bower architect of the town hall.
The pub on the left is called The Lower Chequer.

There were some lovely window boxes and hanging baskets decorating some of the shop, pubs and houses in the town.


I was intrigued by the name of this street but have as yet been unable to find out anything about it's origin. 

Friday, July 27, 2018

Scavenger Photo Hunt - July

Joining in once again with the Scavenger Photo Hunt organised by Kate at 'I live, I love, I craft, I am me' blog. 

July's word prompts are:- Door, 11a.m., texture, shadows, view, my choice


Door - the carved slate plaque by this door said we must use the other door which we were quite happy to do as it led inside the Oriel Brondanw at Plas Brondanw the former home of Clough Williams-Ellis the architect who created nearby Portmeirion village.
We have visited the garden many times as when we visit this part of Wales the place we stay is only a couple of miles away.  We had gone into the house and gallery to see an exhibition called 'Fragile Landscape' organised by members of The Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales.

11a.m. - The Millennium Clock in the centre of Ashbourne in Derbyshire told us it was eleven o'clock precisely, time for coffee before a wander around the shops.


Texture - I loved the texture in these leaves against the sky.  Photo taken at Trentham Gardens on the Lakeside Walk as we sat on a seat where we were sheltered for a while from the heat of the sun.

Shadow/s - Shadows of the shrubs across the lavender and shadows of the lavender on the path.  Taken at Sugnall Walled Garden, near Eccleshall in Staffordshire.  The scent of the lavender and the loud constant hum of the bees enjoying it lingered as we sat under the awning with coffee and scones with home-made jam.


View - my favourite view from last week's short break in Wales, if you read my last post you'll have already seen the photo.  It was taken from the Coastal Path along which we had walked from Borth-y-Gest near Porthmadog in Gwynedd.  The beach is called Morfa Bychan and the white house at the end is called The Powder House or Y Cwt Pwdr. Built in the 18th century it is now a private residence. It was once used for the storing of gunpowder that had been unloaded from ships.  It was then transported for use in the local slate mines. 


My choice - Another view this time from the window of Clough Williams-Ellis's bedroom at Plas Brondanw- his favourite view across his garden to Snowdon in the distance.

Click on the link below to find other bloggers who are joining in this month.

http://livelovecraftme.blogspot.com/2018/07/julys-link-up-party.html