The Glen, from the start of the grass path

Recorded as a Voice Memo (with one or two subsequent edits) on Thursday, 12.40pm, after a morning of rain:

“It’s 12.40, it’s rained all morning and I’ve been strimming. Strimming the Glen, or rather the sinuous path that winds down to the foot of the hill and winds back again. Behind me, the housemartins and swallows traverse the short grass leading up to the pond, screeching as they go and searching for newly hatched flies presumably to feed their young – criss-crossing like an aerobatic display team.

The Glen sits just east of the house, just over from the pond and I walk past a series of unlit bonfire piles which we have never got around to setting alight and which now may never be. They have become natural sculptures, wildlife havens, constructs of branches, twigs, old bits of wood, secured firmly by grasses which have softened their edges. I suspect they are inhabited by frogs, toads, hedgehogs as well as some of the smaller birds as well, maybe.



I’m walking further down the strimmed pathway, past a pallet of different shades – the white umbrels of the cow parsley, the mauves of the knapweed, a mini thistle with shiny prickly leaves, all shades and heights of grasses, and willow herb, the only place in the garden where we allow it to grow – large statuesque clumps with their bright, bright, pink-purple plumes. And yes, some yellow ragwort, not the farmer’s friend, it has to be said, but very popular with the hoverflies and bees.


Cow parsley in the foreground, willow herb at the rear

And this year has got to be one of the best for wild flowers. They seem to have benefitted from the dry summer; they are shorter this year but they appear to have more flower.

It’s peaceful but it’s not quiet – sounds of sheep baa-ing in the distance, birds of the field with their constant chorus, the occasional unworldly mew of the buzzards, soaring through the steam wreathed the tree tops down at the foot of the glen, steam caused by the heat of the sun on the wet branches presumably, like a tropical rainforest; still the sounds of the rain, still falling through the canopies of the huge broadleaved trees adjacent to the Glen, rain which stopped falling from the sky half an hour ago, maybe longer.


Willow herb

I’m surrounded by insects: by bees -honey and bumble, by hoverflies with their incredible ability to hold their position in the air like miniature Harriet Jump Jets, and by little white moths, and yes, one or two butterflies starting to emerge now that the rain has gone.


Cow parsley

I walk past the big clump of wild raspberries – these would never grace Tesco’s shelves but they will provide a welcome food-source for the birds,  Finally, I come to the old seat at the foot of the hill.



The Glen is our wildlife area, where apart from an occasional strim to carve out some paths, it receives no attention from the gardener. It’s an area which has been allowed to return to nature, an area which we haven’t improved, and which I don’t think we can. Nature seems to do it so much better than me with my plethora of hoes, mowers, hedgecutters and strimmers. She is The Master Gardener. Nowhere else in the garden do I feel more inspired.”


one of the detritus heaps which started life as a bonfire but now serves a far more useful purpose



17 thoughts on “Inspiration

  1. What a blessing to have a meadow walk “next door” – and such a lovely one. It is interesting to me how very similar it is to our ocean-side cliffs here on the other side of the world in northern California. They are a mass of cow parsnip right now — and purple thistles — and yes, ragweed. Our berries are blackberries. The willow herb (which we call fireweed, here) tends to be most prolific just a little farther north. Thanks for sharing your meadow.


    • Thanks Malc. It’s a lovely spot. Curiously enough, while the bench may look as if its been there for ages, I’ve only just put it there, having walled there on numerous occasions and wished that we’d got a seat there! The seat itself though we have had for a number of years in another part of the garden!


    • Thanks for your comments! Yes, it’s a real wildlife haven!

      The farmers don’t like ragwort (willow herb is okay; it’s more the gardeners that don’t like this one as it seeds prolifically and defeats the hoe on many occasions!) because it is poisonous. Livestock eat it and gradually become poisoned as the level of toxins build up in the animal’ bloodstream. Particular issue with horses. We will shortly be pulling up/ strimming all flowering heads to minimise re-seeding.


    • Thank you very much! I regret to say that the rain has now arrived here in south east Scotland. We’ve had a week of thunder and torrential downpours, although we have had (very warm) sunshine in between! No need to water the plants now! Ah, and I wouldn’t be without my trusty strimmer! (line cutter, brushcutter with a nylon line head instead of a fixed blade)


      • Mine is a battery pack/rechargeable one, yet I am sure you must use a gas powered one to get your paths done. I have merely a 1/2 acre with only a bit of edging to do twice a month. Continuous deep shrub/perennial borders around perimeter slowly reducing the size of turf, which grows sans any chemicals, as I have many back yard birds who feed out of the grass. Love those birds!


  2. It truly is a wonderful thing that you can leave mother nature to do her stuff in a part of your garden! It would be very difficult to count the different species living amongst those wildflowers. I live near a little area similar to your ‘glen’ and it’s a real eye opener to see how alive it actually is!


    • We’re very lucky, Angie – it’s quite a privilege.

      It’s good to see some of the local councils having a go at encouraging and planting wildflowers; there are some startlingly beautiful areas in parks, on verges and even on roundabouts where wildflowers have been planted in favour of the usual (badly mown) grass or badly weed-killed shrubs. And I long for Councils to discontinue their obsession with mowing verges – it’s a complete waste of diesel and the desolation left by these flail cutters is far from attractive! Rant over!


  3. If you thought that the only blooms worth noting in high summer were the ones in urban gardens, then think again! The countryside provides the best specimens for bouquets specifically homed in on insect pleasure (as well as work), and it is such a joy to walk through these swathes of country floral displays on a sunny afternoon.


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