The Wildlife In My Garden

Bumble bee on a buddleia in my garden

I’ve had three requests from my lovely readers to write a blog about my rather wild garden, so here it is. It will be primarily photos rather than writing, so I hope you won’t be disappointed. I’ve lived at my house in Essex in the UK for over thirty years. The railway runs across the bottom of the garden, and a river runs at the bottom of my road. I cannot get out into my garden now that I use a wheelchair because there is no access apart from on foot. Most of these photos were taken before the accident that left me with a disability and before I badly fractured my pelvis a few years ago. The garden is mainly grass in the middle but has dozens of wildflowers growing through it (some people may call them weeds, but I disagree). Nothing in it is cultivated. Everything has seeded itself naturally. These are just some of the wildflowers growing in the grass – daisies and buttercups, wild violets, forget-me-nots, orange hawkweed amongst some dandelions and a photo of a single buttercup.

At the back of my garden is a steep bank full of mature trees of various types. I have elm, ash, sycamore and others including hawthorn which has white flowers. There are also bluebells there in the very early spring.

At the side of the garden are some shrubs that have come under the fence from my neighbour’s garden, which I was delighted to see. These were (on the left) euphorbia, some unknown yellow flowers and green alkanet. There is also (on the right) a yellow forsythia bush, an elderberry shrub with black berries with which you can make delicious elderberry juice or wine and another unknown shrub with yellow/orange berries.

Finally, I have taken some shots of plants and trees triumphing over adversity. These are proof that nature will always find a way, whether it’s a wildflower growing through concrete or a tree that was once chopped down to near the base, which is now producing branches and leaves.

We must protect all these wildflowers and trees as they are essential to insects, butterflies and bees. Trees are being chopped down, and small creatures are now in decline in our world, and without them, humans (and many larger animals) will eventually be unable to survive. Nature without the human race would do very well, but humans cannot survive without nature.

I do hope you’ve enjoyed your time in my garden. I realise I am fortunate to live in such a beautiful place in the UK, where there is an abundance of trees and plants to be seen. The pictures I’ve included in this post are just a few of them. I’d be pleased to hear your comments and perhaps, suggestions as to what else I could add to my garden. Thank you so much for reading and viewing my photos.

We could die, and nature would almost certainly be fine. But humans cannot survive without nature. Our culture, everything that makes us human, cannot survive without nature.

Harrison Ford

The Eco-Carnival Came to Town

This was my town’s first carnival for many years and its first eco-carnival ever, so I thought I’d go along to see what was happening. It was a beautiful day with a mixture of bright sun and a welcome cool breeze. This year, the organisers decided we should consider the impacts on the planet that the usual, large motorised carnival floats seen in the previous years have had. It was a small gathering, very low-key, not a grand affair like some carnivals I’ve seen, but the emphasis on the planet means a lot to me, so I was determined to go and support those taking part. They have all worked incredibly hard.

Scottish Bagpipers
I wasn’t sure whether these were flamingos or pink dinosaurs 😂!
Falun Gong group from China

Taking photos from a wheelchair always presents its challenges. Most people are very considerate, but some don’t seem to notice me and stand directly in front of me and in my line of sight. Most annoying, but hey, life is too short to cause a fuss other than a polite, excuse me.

A small group of brilliant young drummers who produced an unbelievable sound

We have a great group of Extinction Rebellion members in my town. They have a good following here. They may not be very popular with some, but, in my eyes, they do more to attempt to save the planet than our government does, and I’m behind them all the way. Our government talk the talk but definitely don’t walk the walk. I’ll get off my soapbox now! That’s my political career over 🙃!!

Local Extinction Rebellion group with the Samba Band

After the eco-carnival, there were still lots of people milling about as various activities were going on in and around the centre – face painting, information stands, food, drinks and ice cream available etc. I grabbed a sandwich in M&S and bumped into two of the store staff who helped me with my punctures earlier this week – see my post Travelling in Style. I stopped to thank them again and knew I was in safe hands there on the off chance of it ever happening again. I drove over to the nearby park and sat and people-watched as well as admiring the plants on the riverbank and the nearby swan who looked like it was a professional contortionist!

Wildflowers on the riverbank
The contortionist swan
Don’t know what flowers these are, but they could have done with a drink!

Finally, after most people had started to leave the town centre and head for home, I briefly called into Tesco for some fruit and veg and made my way along the river to my house. Peanut, my cat, wasn’t impressed that I’d left her alone for the afternoon, but nevertheless, she was pleased to see me. Here she is in her come-and-play-with-me mode.

Peanut wanting attention after my excursion out

For more adorable photos and adventures with Peanut, see my post It’s a Cat’s Life.

Thank you for reading. Love Ellie xx 🌞

Travelling in Style!

Travelling in style!!

I thought yesterday was thwart with difficulties. Today, I really did it in style! I’d just travelled down to town in Alfie, my new electric powerchair when I started to feel out of kilter. Uh, oh, I’d had this feeling before. I immediately looked over Alfie, only to discover two completely flat rear tyres! Not again … the last time this happened, I was on the end of the longest pier in the world at Southend-on-Sea! It’s 2.16 kilometres! You can read this here – Sunnier Climes – Part 2 – The Pier.

I was sitting outside M&S (Marks & Spencer) – a big chain store, especially in the UK. I needed assistance, so I limped slowly into the entrance to attract a store assistant. I could feel the rims scraping the ground with every limping inch. Ouch. I just managed to get inside the door out of the hot, bright sun. Fortunately, I have a rescue service as part of my lease contract for such occasions; I phoned them to be told they would be with me as soon as they could.

An hour later, still waiting, I was getting cold as I’d only managed to drive as far as the freezer cabinets by the door. I hadn’t thought to bring a jacket on such a beautiful day. A lovely assistant approached me and asked if I’d like a hot drink. She came back with a coffee. She also picked up a vegan sandwich for me. I was hungry by then. As the hours were ticking away, I was getting very cold, so they gave me one of the Stock Controller’s freezer jackets to put around my shoulders till my transport came. The shop staff were wonderful – they couldn’t have been more helpful and friendly. I’ll definitely be making a call to Customer Services tomorrow to give my compliments and to ask for the staff to be personally thanked.

I sat and waited … and waited … and waited. One of the assistants kept popping his head out of the door to see if there were any signs of rescue. Nothing. I phoned the rescue people again, only to be told they were having difficulties finding a vehicle to collect me. More waiting.

After three-and-a-half hours, a man in grey and orange overalls and muddy boots came toward me. This was my knight in shining armour! I was very pleased to see him. He’d come to take my wheelchair home and helped me into a waiting taxi as he wasn’t allowed to carry passengers. Just as I got home, I saw a truck outside with Alfie on the back. It was a 7.5-ton pick-up truck!! Apparently, that’s all they had available. Some neighbours had come out to watch as my knight guided Alfie, looking very sorry for himself, down the ramp. Finally, we were home. What a day. Lucky I’ve got a very good sense of humour. I won’t live this one down for a long time!

I’ll never live it down 😂

Befriend a Tree

My friend, Chris, took this photo of me taking a photo of my tree along the Bunny Walk

One afternoon, I found my ivy-clad tree as I drove in my wheelchair along the footpath near my home. It’s lined on both sides by vegetation and is called the Bunny Walk. The walkway is at the bottom of my road and follows the course of the River Chelmer to town in one direction and Broomfield in the other. I used to drive down to see my tree quite frequently and had many thoughtful ‘conversations’ with it.

“Hello tree”, I said aloud on one of my visits. “Hello”, I repeated; “how are you feeling today?” The tree remained silent. I knew a little about trees and in case you don’t know, they talk by connecting and sending messages to each other through a network of fungi beneath the ground. I wondered what the tree was thinking.

It was a bright day in late Autumn; the sun shone through the tree’s branches almost blinding me. I took a photo of them silhouetted against the vivid blue sky. It made a gorgeous picture. “Excuse me; would you mind not taking photos of me!!” I was a little taken aback to hear such an indignant voice responding. “Can’t you see, I’m undressed?” I looked around me and then, realised, to my surprise, that it was the tree speaking. I was quite astonished. However, I decided that it was only polite to reply at that very moment. “Oh, I’m sorry,” I said; “I just wanted to show my friends how beautiful you were.” “I’m not beautiful; I’m ugly,” – he had suddenly become sad and almost annoyed. “Oh, tree; please don’t be so sad; I think you’re beautiful.” “What do you know when I hardly have any clothes on”, a very cross voice snapped at me. “Oh, but you will have when the Spring comes; I think you will be dressed in delightful green leaves and delicate, scented blossom,” I said reassuringly. “Really!”, he stated grumpily. Then, after a few moments, a more friendly voice replied with, “Well, thank you.” He was speaking in a much warmer tone now. “What would you like me to call you,” I said. He replied simply and quietly, saying “Tree.” I thought that was a bit impersonal, but then who am I to judge someone who I’d only just met.

The branches of the trees silhouetted against a stunning blue Autumn sky.

So, Tree it was. I went a little nearer and asked him if he would mind me picking up one or two of his Autumn leaves from the ground. He said that was okay, so I got a bit nearer, reached down from my wheelchair, and chose a couple of damp leaves. Some were brown; others were golden and a few still had a hint of green on them. I thought I’d take them home with me to identify what sort of tree Tree was. I spent ages researching, but it wasn’t as easy as I’d thought. I’ll have to wait until the Spring arrives when the buds, leaves and blossom appear. It’ll make it easier for me to find out what sort of tree he is. I didn’t realise how long I’d been out, sharing my time with him, and decided that I should start making my way home.

Each time I went along the Bunny Walk I stopped to visit my special friend. I watched him changing until the last of the autumn leaves fell to the ground. I felt sorry for him standing there, now naked as he’d previously forecast.

As the weather got colder and wetter, I found myself not going to visit Tree as often. I did feel guilty not going as regularly. More time went by until one cold but bright Winter morning, I woke early; I was so keen to make the most of this lovely day. I set off down the road and a few minutes later, I arrived at my tree. I went up to him, and said, “Hello.” He remained quiet for a few minutes and suddenly came out with, “Huh! What do you want?” I was taken aback by the bluntness of his tone. “Oh, what’s wrong? Have I upset you?” I asked. “What do you think?” Tree said.” “You come down here and befriend me; I learned to trust you and then you abandon me!” I’m so sorry,” I said. “It’s just that the weather has been so wet and cold. But I have been telling all my friends about you and how much I enjoy visiting you.” “Really? Truly?” “Well, if that’s the case, I forgive you”, followed by, “yesterday, I was also telling my friends about you and how much I look forward to seeing you.” “How kind of you,” I said.

These pieces of cloth were stitched together to make a fabric tree, saying ‘Love Trees’

“Tree, can I ask you something personal, please?” “Of course, go ahead,” he replied very politely. I could feel myself blushing, “Tree, I’d like to hug you if you don’t mind. I’ve always wanted to hug a tree and you are very special to me.” “Will it hurt?” he asked. “Not at all,” I reassured him.” The only problem is; well; I don’t know how to say this,” I blurted out. “The only problem is … I’m not sure I can reach you. It’s because of my wheelchair, you see.” “Oh, really;” he exclaimed. “Wheelchair? Wheels? I thought they were legs. “My legs don’t work very well”, I told him. “Well, you are just as important to me whether you have wheels or legs.” I could feel a tear welling up, not because I was upset, but because I felt so moved that he accepted me just as I am.

Tree looked at me and noticed I was trying to hold back my tears. “Don’t cry,” he said gently. “We could have a virtual hug.” ‘How lovely,’ I thought.’ So, I drove a little closer although I was aware of the crisp leaves and twigs that I was crushing under my wheels; I got as close as I could and just about managed to stretch out to Tree placing my palms against the bark of his trunk. I’d always wanted to hug a tree. I had happy tears rolling down my face. I felt all warm and fuzzy. It was at that moment, I realised we were in a relationship; not a symbiotic one as in the way trees communicate through the fungi under the earth, but a true, loving and caring one.

(Can humans have relationships with trees?’ I wondered. I think so. Love comes in all different forms, and I loved and cared for Tree very much, and I think, maybe, secretly, in his heart, he loved and cared for me too).

I suddenly realised the time. “I’ve got to go home now,” I said. “It’s getting dark.” I drove back onto the path and turned round to face my newfound friend. His branches waved in the wind, and I’m sure he was waving goodbye to me. I blew him a kiss. “I’ll be back,” I said.