The rain has been beating down hard against the house in such rage that I went to inspect: it was a hailstorm, on the 2nd of May. My Dad, Jack Rushton, was always in tune with nature, more so than he sometimes was with people. He’d have known if the hail was unusual at this time of year or par for the course. He would have been 90 today. He died too early by any standards: my sister and I never got the chance to relate to him with truly adult minds. Of course some of his messages stay with me.
His love of plants, animals and nature placed the natural world at the centre of things. He knew that English bluebells were the delicate ones, with flowers that hung from just one side of the scape.
He helped make sure my sister and I had the kind of childhood where climbing trees, inspecting stones in streams, crossing moorland, hanging around other people’s allotments, collecting horse pooh for roses, growing plants from seeds, cramming the yard full of so many pots you could hardly wind your way through it, and dissecting owl pellets to see what they had eaten would always seem normal. Continue reading
This garden plant stopped me in my tracks on my walk to the local park. Purple, silken flowers were lit up by a golden boss of stamens; the foliage throwing a silvery mist into the mix.
I’ve never seen pulsatilla growing wild in the UK, and perhaps I never will. This increasingly rare wildflower must be a magical sight. The young, emerging foliage is covered in long hairs creating a halo effect around the buds. Continue reading
I enjoy walking, especially through a garden or in the countryside, but words (as so often) matter: you’ll find me less keen to set out if the journey might best be described as a climb or hike. So it took my sister (for whom hills are little more than hiccups) several seasons to get my sweetheart and me to accompany her to this point, where we could look out over the edge of a broad expanse of limestone pavement above Malham Cove in Yorkshire. Thanks little sis – it was fun and you know I’d never have done it without you!
You might recognise the pavement from scenes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows if you’re a fan. I was fascinated by the pavement itself: its deep cracks and the odd bits of ferns and wild flowers that somehow have a foothold on life within it. Continue reading
Transformed into a silhouette, its beak open, the bird on the edge of the Grand Canyon seems more symbol than living creature: something we’ll each interpret under influences as consistent as temperament and experience or as fleeting as a mood. Long time followers may recognise a similar, more uplifting shot, taken nearby.
Coming across the picture and the short poem, Requiem by Kurt Vonnegut, in quick succession, it seemed fitting to put them together here, today. Continue reading
If you’re the kind of person who smiles to see plants growing in cracks in (someone else’s) walls and pavements, puzzles over vines emerging from nowhere and loves the summer weeks when Buddleias with masses of arching, lilac-like flowers cling on to ‘seemingly every derelict building‘, this one’s for you.
I spoke to Roy Lancaster (a lovely fellow) at the Chelsea Flower Show years ago. Identifying me as a fellow Lancastrian by my accent, he told me how a local quarry’s unusual and diverse range of plants were brought to light when a schoolchild took a bunch of flowers to school for a nature project.
An abandoned area of disturbed land where people rarely tread is as good a home, if you happen to be a rare orchid, as anywhere else. Nature doesn’t have any concept of location, location, location – or at least not in the human way, where a house is worth ten times more in one place than in another.
Plants flower where the seeds happen to fall, if they can. We’ve all seen a tangling of nature and building debris like this: we just don’t expect to see it faithfully recreated and offered up for our consideration at a flower show. Eds Higgins’ Finding [urban] Nature garden (hereafter, the F[u]N garden, following the designer’s styling) imagined a brownfield community garden as part of the RHS Young Designer Competition. Continue reading
Visitors who walk through the woodland at Ian Hamilton Finlay’s old home, Little Sparta, in Scotland, happen upon a mossy tombstone placed at an angle between the ferns. Like many of Little Sparta’s artworks – paths, blocks, even beehives – it bears an inscription. Continue reading
This picture was taken on an alternative version of our Pie walk. My eye was taken by the effect of the colours and the horizontal and vertical lines. The setting sun’s dim, winter light simplified the scene, adding an unusual atmosphere. Continue reading
(a gardener’s poem)
Bending, I watch you dance
Twist in the wind
Anchored by slender stems;
Barometers of spring blooming early,
Wearing hearts on your petals.
Things that harm us may seem sweet
But you’re not here to harm;
Any fool can see that. Continue reading
The subtle but beautiful animal print pattern on this moth appealed to my sense of touch so much that it was all I could do to stop myself stroking it. The moth was looking for somewhere to rest during daylight. Nothing could deter it from selecting this wooden bench – not even a human being with a camera looming in to take its picture.
I left it in peace. Continue reading
Glasgow is a creative city where artists and musicians will feel at home. These scenes are part of a huge four seasons wildlife design by street artist Smug: if you can spot the parked cars in the squirrel picture, they’ll help give you a sense of the scale. Continue reading
Gerard Manley Hopkins was an innovator who wrote about nature and faith, rapture and despair. For me, we are all eccentrics, all individuals. Not everyone will share this view, but Gerard Manley Hopkins was idiosyncratic on anyone’s terms, often to his cost.
While at Balliol College at Oxford, he converted to Catholicism, tearing himself from his artistic, loving Anglican family to a tougher life as a Jesuit. He never regretted his decision, but struggled with depression and the drudgery of some of his duties. Conflicted about whether writing was compatible with his vocation, he wrote relatively little after his conversion. At the time of his premature death in 1889 his work was largely unknown. Continue reading
During our visit to Grasmere yesterday, clouds lay low over rolling hills, but the greyness just added atmosphere to the water, hills, woods, dry stone walls, ferns and wildflowers along our way.
We’d stopped off here to walk around the lake: my idea of exercise! Our route took us past houses, lakeside businesses, farmland and woods before swinging down to the path around the shore. Continue reading