Attack on Nature: Do We Care?

Metal owl, back alley, Darwen, Lancs

Recent government announcements have united the UK’s leading nature charities in protest. Issues include:

  • Proposals that weaken our Habitat Regulations.
  • Creating large enterprise zones which will reduce the need for planning permission in areas that currently include, for example, Special Protection Areas for birds.
  • Rolling back the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) that encourages farmers to protect nature in favour of the old, often criticised method of paying landowners a set amount per acre of land owned.
  • An ongoing drought is drying up rare chalk rivers and all of our rivers fail to meet the chemical standards set for them.
  • British Woodland is becoming less diverse.
  • The UK is one of the most nature depleted countries, in the bottom 10% globally and last among the G7 group.

The Royal Society For The Prevention of Cruelty to Birds (RSPB) has been leading the response. I’m not a bird photographer, so I’m using owl art for this post, owls being an old symbol of wisdom. And because art might be the only way future generations know some of the wildlife our society takes for granted.

Continue reading “Attack on Nature: Do We Care?”

Hawthorn Flowers: Cast Ne’er a Clout Ere May is Out

Hawthorn in flower

For anyone who needs a translation of ‘cast ne’er a clout ere May is out’, I’m offering, ‘don’t stop wearing warm layers of clothing before the hawthorn has bloomed’.

Hawthorn tree covered with blossom

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna, a UK native) is one of the first deciduous trees to leaf in spring. Its small, leathery leaves are lobed, rather like tiny oak leaves. Continue reading “Hawthorn Flowers: Cast Ne’er a Clout Ere May is Out”

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Garden (Tatton Park 2019)

Insect hotel wall made from trunks and tubes

Tatton Park is a garden in north-west England that, in normal circumstances, hosts a flower show in July. One of my favourite small gardens in the Back to Back category at last year’s show was created by the garden’s head gardener, Simon Tetlow, and built with the help of local volunteers. Named in honour of the 50th anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar book to help attract children’s attention, it was designed from a bug’s or beetle’s perspective. Continue reading “The Very Hungry Caterpillar Garden (Tatton Park 2019)”

The Plant Hunters’ Fair at Hoghton Tower

The sun had got his hat on most obligingly yesterday, as Hoghton Tower was hosting a plant fair. I arrived shortly after 10.30 to find the place bustling. Parking was free and the entry fee (£1 per person) allowed admittance to the fortified manor’s  walled garden. There were plant staples, novelties, rarities and bargains on offer and a line of early bird gardeners had formed in front of the plant stands, hoping to catch a worm or two. I did not judge this was a good point to start taking pictures, so the ones I have are from later on when everything was more sparse. Come between Lancastrians and their plants at your peril!

In any case, I was hunting for something too – a plant I could have bought by mail order or at many garden centres, but wanted to find here. I was not disappointed.

Why did I want to buy it here? To state the obvious, you don’t pay P&P at a plant fair. Plants are priced to sell, you can check their quality and size, get expert advice across the plant bench, and bask in the feelgood factor of directly supporting an independent, specialist nursery that grows more for love than money. Continue reading “The Plant Hunters’ Fair at Hoghton Tower”

Nephila clavipes | Golden Silk Orb-weaver Spider

Large yellowish spider hanging from a web

Apologies to anyone who has a phobia of spiders – this isn’t the start of a series, I promise!

My sweetheart is scared enough of spiders to quiver and let out a loud, high-pitched squeal when he sees one. If a spider imprudently reveals itself indoors, I am called upon to relocate it using an upturned glass and piece of card.

Strangely, some spiders don’t give rise to that instinctive reaction. For instance, he’s developed a nodding acquaintance with a large spider that lives in a corner of my shed. He admires the little, sturdy jumping spiders for their feisty attitude, observing that if you attempt to scare one off, it holds its ground and sticks its front arms up in a boxer-like stance so it seems to be saying “I don’t think so!”.

And I ought to confess that this spider scared me more than it did him. It was hanging around with the right crowd: we found it suspended face high on a web in woodland outside Mississippi’s Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks last autumn.  Continue reading “Nephila clavipes | Golden Silk Orb-weaver Spider”