Until July 2017, documenting the seasons of coastal Dorset. I'm a complete amateur so don't trust I'm always right. If ever you see I'm wrong - whether with identifications or in anything else - do say! Meanwhile . . . I've now moved to Halifax in West Yorkshire. Click on the link below to collect the new URL. Don't forget to follow there!

Monday, 20 April 2009


Last year's Buddleia flowers
and this year's leaves.
I went to Frome on Saturday; along a little branch line which chumbles slowly between bushes and fields and is single track in places. There are even 'Request Stops' where the train will only come to a halt if you tell the guard in advance that you want to get off.
Rather grandly, the notice board on the platform said it would be going to Cardiff and the signs in the carriages were in Welsh as well as in English.

Dead leaves at the foot of a Holm Oak Trunk. You can go to Bristol on the same train too. Sometimes there's an announcement to say it will go to Gloucester instead.

Dead Gorse.
New Gorse.

One of the trees I am following. The slashed off branch
is still visible but catkins have arrived and the leaves are there. (Can anyone identify it yet?)
But whatever its destination - it never fails to be an adventure, going on this train. There's always a sense of 'something beyond' - a notion that, one day, one might simply stay in one's seat and leave it to chance where, and when, one might arrive. And, wherever it's going, it goes slow enough to make it worth while looking out of the window because everything stays there long enough to be looked at.
Much of the Ground Elder is taller than me now.
There are an awful lot of blasted oaks in the middles of fields on the way to Frome. You'd have thought they'd be in the way. And un-blasted ones too. There are little rivers and small hills - and a high ridge to look up to. And nearly all the fields are bright green squares bordered with the white blossom of blackthorn.
The Dandelions are like gold coins, dense along the verges. (Except gold coins don't tend to be lying around densely like this. Not round here. Wish they did!)
Not for much longer though. The further we went into Somerset, the tattier it got, browner, closer to the moment when petals will fall. It'll happen here too soon - and then we'll be into May. There's a white Hawthorn tree near my house which breaks into blossom first every year.
And it's done it again!
Hawthorn in bud. (May.)

And Hawthorn Blossom.
And, after the May . . . maybe last year will be gone. In the meantime, there's a lot of 2008 still around.
(Which is what, on the side, this post has been about.)


Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Hi Lucy, I'm really digging the ground elder (figuratively, not literally)--I love the buds. I also love trains and the idea that you're not quite sure where you may end up! And as a train lover who hardly ever gets to ride trains, may I humbly request a photo or two of any train you come across?!

Lucy said...

But Monica - there are no leaves on trains!

I have been thinking of doing a post about the old platforms on an unused railway line nearby . . . and on PICTURES JUST PICTURES tomorrow there's a photo of the unused platform at Frome - which is opposite the one the train comes in and out of.

(They've got a pretend waiting room with a window painted on it!)

(There's a photo of the inside of a carriage roof scheduled, also for PICTURES JUST PICTURES soon too.)

In the summer, old steam trains are brought back into service for special trips between London and Weymouth. This is very exciting . . . except, for North Americans I think all our trains, even the steam ones, and however special they are to us would lood . . . er . . . a bit tame and small!


rosa said...

Ground elder was such a nuisance to us when we were gardening in Scotland. Esp. b/c the soil was on the clayish side, and the leaves/stems always broke off underground before you could dig out the root.
We live across the road from one of the old narrow gauge steam train railways-it was originally used to haul redwood lumber to the wharf to be shipped off. Now it hauls tourists to the beach. Which still turns out to be quite lucrative-and red (with sunburn)- cargo...
but your experience sounds much more whimsical!

And isn't hawthorne also called May? It's fragrance is so hard to define. I'm not sure I like it.

Lucy said...

Hi Rosa.

Ground Elder is a horrible challenge if it gets into a garden and everyone tries to get rid of it . . . so we hardly ever see what it looks like if it is allowed to grow and because it bolts so high when it comes into flower, we wouldn't necessarily recgnise it for what it is. It certainly doesn't hug the ground!

There seem to be miles of it, round here. And not just in wild places. I've seen a lot beside a large roundabout. It's very pretty and its smell is delicate and delicious.

The stems and the seedheads remain fascinating once the flowers are over (which they will be quite soon now).

May . . . Hawthorn . . . yes, they are the same thing. (I'll have to come back to the text of this post and make it clearer.)

There's a superstition about not bringing the blossom into the house. Maybe that's to do with the smell.

I don't know what you think but I really dislike the smell of flowering currant too.

And there's an odd thing about Spanish Broom - that in the garden it smells wonderful but, if you cut it and bring it into the house, the smell is disgusting. Weird!

How wonderful to live opposite a narrow guage railway!

There is a difference, I think, between tourist railways and ones in regular use. There's a fantastic steam railway between Swanage and Corfe Castle and I would definitely recommmend visitors to try it out if ever they are in Dorset . . . but it very much has a touristy, holiday atmosphere. Whereas the one which goes through Frome is still a functioning, ordinary railway with comuters etc. (and no steam engines). It just happens to follow a very beautiful route. For people who have a day to spare . . . I'd highly recommend that too.

The reason I say 'day' is that the trains are infrequent so you might have to wait before going back the other way. However, if you go to somewhere like Frome, there are some really nice places to eat, very old streets to explore and a fantastic, independent bookshop.

Independent bookshops are rare nowadays but there is another one at Castle Cary (on the same line). Castle Cary has a small but fascinating museum of rural / domestic and agricultural history too.

Seem to have put a Tourist Encouragement Hat on! But this isn't a very well known part of the world despite being full of delights - so I tend to become enthusiastic!

I know there are all sorts of stereotypes associated with Californina. (I seem to remember that you are tall and bronzed and phenominally fit; very wealthy (though not necessarily brainy) spend all your time on the beach, eat nothing but raisins but are eaten by sharks.) But at least people have heard of California! Indeed of Santa Cruz.


P.S. Monica - I confess we probably don't have any pre-conceptions about Michigan. I'm not sure whether that's a good or bad thing.

VP said...

That railway line's one of my favourites. It's beautiful plus you get on at land-locked Bath and find yourself at Weymouth (eventually) at the other end :)

Weeping Sore said...

I feel like I was on the train ride with you. Thanks for pictures of stuff I never see "in the wild" here in Southern California.

BT said...

A wonderful journey Monica, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wish I could go on it but I'm in Ireland! We have few trains here of any description. I love the white hawthorn, it's so pretty. That tree is annoying me! Is it a birch or some kind?

I love your theme of last years and this. I don't like your bluebell picture though as they are the Spanish bluebell and are hybradising with our native bluebell, which may become endangered. You must swap it for the real bluebell!!

Lucy said...

VP - it's quite enticing going the other way too . . . getting on at Weymouth and arriving somewhere interesting further inland!


Lucy said...

Hi Weeping Sore - we are very lucky still to have a line like this.


Lucy said...

Hello BT . . . I can't censor the bluebells . . . they really are there and they are growing in the wild. I don't know how they got there but there a quite a few small clusters like this.

I wouldn't plant them in my garden, I admit that, . . . but I'm one of those awful people who feel very pleased even to see rhodadendrons when they've 'escaped' and are taking over landscapes. They look so wonderfully dramatic; just as these bluebells look cheerful and pretty, even if they are not as delicate as the indigenous ones.

I think (and I may be wrong about this) that this is an example where conservation trips us up a little. We aren't allowed (I don't think) to take even a few indigenous bulbs from a wood. There might be so many that you can't take a step without standing on them but we mustn't lift and re-locate a single one. I would have thought (and, as I say, this may be wrong) that spreading the original ones round a bit might help.