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!

Saturday, 20 May 2017


New honeysuckle growth and golden elderberry leaf
Honeysuckle beside golden elderberry leaf.
Here's a post where I place my feet somewhere and with at least one of them stuck firmly to the spot, look around to see what I can see. Mostly, I keep both feet 'stuck' but sometimes I wobble then I have to move one or I'll fall over. Once I did fall into a bush by trying to look behind it while keeping my feet in front of it. In some ways this is a meditative exercise. In others, an unconventional form of yoga. Either way, it's surprising what you can see if, for a moment, you stand still and refuse to move.

Today, when I plonked myself in front of a hedgerow, it was its leaves which caught my attention. There are flowers . . . but mostly we're in a kind of flower-lull. Being 'verdant' is currently the 'in' state to be. Or gold. This honeysuckle (above) with it's early reddish-ness is beside a golden elderberry bush. I've never known why some elderberry bushes have golden leaves when most are green. Is it a variety? Is it a deficiency? Is it a mis-identification?

Pale greeny-yellow snail on pale, greeny-yellow elderberry leaves

And here's another puzzle; did a golden snail decide to sit on one of the golden leaves because it would be a good place to hide? or did whatever turned the leaves gold turn the snail gold too?

Dead blackberries, new bramble leaves and new honeysuckle against a blue sky with a mass of brambles beneath

Hedgerow silhouettes have changed again. In winter they were a gathering of arches and spikes. Trees were like frost patterns. With spring they went frothy with blackthorn blossom, then blodgey with hawthorn, fringed with the floppiness of bluebells. Now they have filled out. At first sight they are a green mass, a unity. It's only when you peer in that you see how many plants go into the making of one blob. But the overall hedeginess is broken up here and there with spurts of honeysuckle between us and the sky and the stiffness of desiccated blackberries which somehow got stuck in time last autumn.

Blackthorn leaves against a blue sky.

Blackthorn . . . I think I've mentioned before how it begins the year dramatically then fades into obscurity during the summer and comes out of hiding in the autumn when people search for its fruits - sloes. It's funny that. Apple trees grow apples. Pear trees grow pears. Raspberry canes grow raspberries - but blackberries grow on brambles and blackthorn bears sloes.

Broken brambles and alexanders with fallen and still growing ivy after council mowing.

Underfoot, things are a bit . . . um . . . not very attractive. The alexanders have been mown down and all plants shaved to earth level. Now that cyclists rule the world, we pedestrians have to put up with views less interesting so cyclists won't suffer the inconvenience of driving over us when they come round corners.

A few years ago, it was very aggravating when the council shaved the bushes back as well. Since then, there have been flat sided elders and sheer walls of ivy. One gets used to it. Well, no. I haven't got used to it. Nature is not meant to be flat sided. Resigned may be a better description. No. That's not right. Morose. That's better. Brambles would like to take over the world. A certain amount of cutting back is necessary or we'll end up in a thorny mono-culture. And it is good to have a path to walk along . . . but all the same . . . Ah well, don't worry, green will return. It does.

High in the hedgerow - honeysuckle flowers before thier petals open.
Way high up - too high to photograph crisply -
honeysuckle buds are ready.

Some links.
Countryside Hedgerows: Protection and Management - the Government
Road Verges are a Refuge for Some of Our Rarest Plants - Plantlife
Plantlife's Campaign to Protect Wildflowers and Nature on Roadside Verges - Plantlife

If you too would  like to stick your foot somewhere and see what you can see - the link box for 'Stuck Foot Posts' will stay open till 7pm (UK time) on 25th May.


sue catmint said...

very entertaining post, Lucy. Amazing what you see and think about when plonked in front of a hedgerow, that most people would just walk past without noticing anything.

Hollis said...

Lucy, I have a post almost done and I found a public library with WIFI in a little town -- but already I'm too late, sorry to miss the Stuck-Foot-ing! I'll put it up anyway, this weekend. It was good to get stuck and look close again, enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

That's a fun exercise. I wish I'd thought of that when I was teaching. I used to have my students take metal hangers and make the bottom part round and then throw it in the grass and record everything they found inside the circle, but this would have been a nice alternative when studying details. That snail is pretty camouflaged, isn't it?

Hollis said...

Thanks so much, Lucy! It was not at all inconvenient to stop at that library, I didn't mean to suggest it was. In fact, I had to do a bit of email ... of course ;-) Just as well that I didn't spend time on the blog post, it was much too nice a day to be inside. Best, H

La Petite Gallery said...

Just found your post I will be back yvonne