Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


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Away with the fairies

Onwards into south Wales, Joe is living and working in Cardiff , on his placement year, part of his university course. We brought a van load of ‘essentials’ and helped settle him into his new abode.  We took the opportunity to head on to our favourite spot on the Gower peninsular, Nicholaston camp site, as well as  the joys of underfloor heating in the shower block, it has easy access down on to the beach. The path takes you through ancient woodland, with many autumn delights

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Once through the woods, the path laces through the dunes,

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that have abundant flowers

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so much for snails not liking sand and prickly things

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I felt a little guilty that I hadn’t brought Spud the dog down to the beach with me, but the plan had been for a medative kind of meander, that was led by the eye, not the tennis ball; walking three Springer Spaniels must be a whole different ball game

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There was much  beauty hiding in plain sight

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A reminder of the lunacy of British politics flashed up every now and then.

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The tide sorts the shells by size, the waters draining from Oxwich marsh,

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sweep them out to sea again.

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Flowers of the Burren

The flora of the Burren, on Ireland’s West Coast, are beautiful, and world famous

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Botanically, the Burren is one of the most fascinating regions in Western Europe with plants normally found in widely separate parts of the continent growing alongside each other. Thus mountains avens, a species usually found in sub-arctic and mountainous areas, can be found alongside such southern European species as bloody cranesbill and the dense-flowered orchid whose distribution is centred on the Mediterranean. In addition, plants ordinarily associated with acidic conditions such as heathers grow abundantly on the Burren limestone and plants typical of woodland flora commonly grown in open conditions.

There are many different habitats, meadows,

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deliciously cool hazel groves,

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But it’s not just flowers of course. This little frog was beautifully camouflaged, I wanted him to hop under a shady leaf, surely his skin would burn on such a hot day?

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I could try naming all the flowers we saw, I’ve even got  a book to help,  Wild Plants of the Burren and th Aran Islands, by Charles Nelson, but it needs further study, I’m going to take a stab at this one, I think it O’Kelly’s spotted orchid

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We saw an elderly couple, who looked like they might be botanists , dressed in full ‘Indiana Jones’ fatigues, with rucksack bulging, striding out along the track, having been droped off by a local taxi. It must a dream destination for them.

It’s a magical place. and one to which I’d happily retun.

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Tulip Mania

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Tulips under a skylight, at Burghley House

After swooning over barn owls, we moved on to Burghley House,  the plain walls and unadorned surfaces in the image above, were not the norm, opulence is the house style.

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A few fresh flowers make a house a home,  but I would say that.

The tulips seemed especially suitable, I’m sure a passion for tulips must have passed through this house before, a costly game. 

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That could cost you your home however stately.


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The beast from the east ate my garden

Warm weather has arrived, hooray, its been a long time coming, mind you we have a yellow weather warning for rain, so one mustn’t get too excited.

I’ve been taking stock of the damage done by the winter storms, namely the Beast from the East. There were casualties

Mahonia, euphorbia, viburnum all took a hit.

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Some things seem to have been freeze dried.

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As I’m something of a sentimental gardener, I particularly sad to lose a lavender plant from my mum’s garden, and it touch and go if an Edgeworthia Chrysantha, from my father in laws garden will survive (I do have an heir and a spare so to speak, by way of another plant, potted up in a container, that I took into the barn for safe keeping)

But perhaps the thing that made me go ‘ohhhh noooo’  has been the demise of my Dad’s ‘degging can’ . I can’t remember a time when this wasn’t part of my gardening life. It was precious

Anyone know a tinsmith.

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The Road North

Thirty Days Wild, a post each day throughout June, something that is grounded in our wild world.

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I’m up for this, I’ve done it before, I’ve a bit of a cop out on the delivery though this year.  Mr Uphilldowndale and I are on the road, with Spud the dog of course. We’re taking a three week tour in the campervan, a week visiting  the Orkney Islands, and driving the North Coast 500 route around the northern coast of Scotland. Daily delivery of posts may not be possible,  there are so many variables, when I find an Internet connection, expect a flurry of posts. Posts will not be exclusively ‘wild’  as there is so much to share, but nature will be here in all its glory.

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Post box, Isle of Sanday

First of all how did we get here? It’s a long drive from Derbyshire (over 500m),  we waved as we tootled along past Tootlepedal’s patch, and broke our journey by calling to see the magnificent  Kelpie sculptures at Falkirk, I’d wanted to see them ever since I saw the video of their construction. I was not disappointed.

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How skilful to get such shape and tone to the muscle structure out of sheets of metal.

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Mr Uphilldowndale wanted to know the nuts and bolts of their construction

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The Kelpies were having a little grooming

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We then went on to call, unannounced, on M and J in Kincardine,  M used to work with me in my ‘wee flower shop’, in Alloa, some 26 years ago, we had not seen them since then. We had a lovely evening with them, and camped out on their drive for the night, their kindness and generosity was just as I remembered. A wonderful start to our adventure

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As we travelled north we were struck by the gorse, it was prolific

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and its vivid colour and perfume,  sweet with notes of coconut, swept along with us.

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Early Doors

We were down in London last weekend. We took some time out to visit Kew  Botanical Gardens, it was three days after my annual pass expired. Sigh.

As we renewed the pass one of the staff commented ‘You’ll need that, you’ll be wanting to come to the orchid festival’

Yes, I thought, that’s why we’re here today. 

It starts tomorrow’ she continued. I was crest fallen, I’d really been looking forward to seeing it, I’ve often managed to ‘just miss’ finding out about  exhibitions, I’d never managed to arrive before one started before! I really should pay more attention…

And whilst the staff were in the throws of the final ‘set dressing’ of the displays, we could still access the glass houses, so all was not lost.

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a floating wheelbarrow, how cool is that. Some of the displays certainly took me back to my days worked as a florist (this one reminded me of a funeral tribute we made for a traveller family, it was so big that after we’d finished it we realised we couldn’t get it up the stairs from the basement workroom!)

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The scent of this stephanotis, was a flash back to the 1970’s and many hours spent  as a junior  florist wiring the individual florets to be used in bridal bouquets

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And there were delicately strung dried helichrysum blooms, waiting to be artistically draped, what a labour of love.

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But enough of them, we’re here for the orchids

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we were not disappointed,

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they were everywhere even strung from the roof.

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Another floristry flash back, cymbidium orchids, the ‘go to’ flower for the mother of the bride in the 1980’s, not one bloom but two, as my colleague used to say, ‘that’s not a corsage its a ‘bustenklamper’.

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I think this slipper orchid was my favourite

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Or was it this one? I like growing orchids, it always seems like I’ve achieved something clever when they flower, although it’s not magic on my part,

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I do tend to guild the lily a little sometimes. But the greatest orchid thrill was the wild orchid that randomly, just popped up in the lawn a few years ago,  sadly it’s never made another appearance.

We may have missed out a little on the final flourishes of the festival, but that really didn’t matter.

* Early doors


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All Loved Up

It isn’t very often I get out my florist wires and ribbons these days, but I had a lovely time a couple of weeks ago making bouquets for a wedding.

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I used beautiful blue love-in-the-mist,  which I’d grown grown from seeds that Flighty kindly sent me,

The brief had a lovely relaxed, country feel about it. I’d masses of hydrangea’s in the garden, which were just the thing

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For the  ceremony, which was outside, in a stunning location. 

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There was such a wonderful vibe about the place during the preparation, everyone beavering away, hanging bunting and paper lanterns, assembling luscious cakes, the band doing sound checks and banter.

Someone even managed to find time to get the kettle on

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Wonderful.

Ladies and gentlemen; the bride and groom ( Photo Credit Phil Sproson).