Inspiration

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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.

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Knapweed

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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

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A Midsummer Evening in a Scottish Country Garden

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Sometimes, some green can be relaxing and a welcome antidote to the explosion of colour that surrounds us in our borders at this time of year. This year, having our big mower  out of commission for a while forced us to reconsider the value of grass as a plant in its own right. We therefore decided to leave the new grass areas in the walled garden unmown just to see what happens. The grass is now developing seed-heads which, back-lit against the late evening sun, are quite beautiful, the whole area shimmering like brushed velvet in a light breeze. Later in the summer, we will start mowing this grass once again but not before this particular display is over. In the meantime, we will continue to use the Flymo to carve interesting grass paths round the edges, and in some of the informal areas through its midst, saving us a lot of time, and a lot of fuel!

For the rest of this post, we thought we’d let the photos tell the story. We hope you like them.

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the first of the newly-sown wild flowers starting to show, with the new Medlar, currently in flower and the wonderfully-scented lupins over to the right

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the verbascums and lupins of the south border, with the grey- leaved giant thistle starting to make its presence felt

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the herb garden, probably at its best at the moment, with some young rocket and flowering chives

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some cottage-garden favourites in the south facing border – foxgloves (Digitalis), Delphinium and more lupins!

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a spectacle of lupins, sentinals of our new Acer palmatum Sangokaku

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Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’, we think!

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Granny’s Bonnets (Aquilegia), all colour-combinations possible!

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and finally, out in the Policies, the extraordinarily-ornate and exotic blooms of the blue Iris, completely hardy in our cold climate!