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 🌞

A New Journey

(Image credit to Pixabay)

As you move towards this new chapter of life, I hope you learn how to let go of the idea that it’s too late.”

Unknown

When I first started my blog, eight years ago, it was certainly a very dark space to be in and my posts attracted a following of very hurt and equally damaged people, also in their own dark worlds. After very many years, I decided that I didn’t want to live like this anymore, so, I embarked on a journey of self-discovery. I read endless books (my favourite being, ‘The Mother Tree’ by Suzanne Simard), trawled through various websites and signed up for lots of courses. In the early days, they were topics like improving self-confidence, building good self-esteem, assertiveness training etc. (That last one was a toughie and one I never quite got my head around!). Oh, well, you can’t win them all!!

Then, I started signing up for courses on subjects that interested me. At the time, we were in lockdown so many of these courses had to be on Zoom. That was a challenge in itself but one, I quickly overcame. I did a lot of nature courses; I learned about British trees, wildflowers, fungi [fascinating], the islands around Britain, rivers and waterways; and then, there were things like aromatherapy for beginners, learning about crystals and fossils (that was spurred on by my nine-year-old granddaughter’s interest and determination to be a paleontologist when she grows up!) Quite impressive for a nine-year-old, I think. Now, I’m taking part in a series of writing courses, not so much spelling and grammar, but more creativity and thought expression. I’m in my element!

This was a simple poem I wrote a short time ago while I was digging deep inside of myself to find the ‘real’ me.

Turning life around was tough; so difficult to do
Secrets and nightmares, tar-black and sadly true
I’ve been through hell and trauma, and dealt with so much pain
Now, I’m learning to trust myself all over again

The thieves have all left and the abusers have gone
I’m free to dream and dance, and gently walk on
A brand-new life is waiting patiently for me
As I discover better and smarter ways to be

Such beauty to see in this new world of mine
Blue seas, emerald forests, beasts of every design
A pale waxing moon and the glory of the sun
My heart, soul and mind, all united as one

Now, I’ve so much to love and so much affection
Searched deep inside, and found a new direction
I’m joyfully grateful; perhaps, even wise
I’m honest and open, no need for disguise

Living my life now without shame or disgrace
Treading my new path; no blame at this place
Letting go of the guilt; being rid of the dismay
Searching out truths; at last, finding my way

If you knew me back then, eight long years ago
You’d know how hard I’ve fought, albeit progress was slow
See how much I’ve grown by the sweat of my brow
Judge me not as I was, but rather where I am now.

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.

DUCKS AND GEESE AND LONG-LEGGED BEASTS!

See the source image

Summer is well and truly here in England. The temperature got up to 28 degrees in the shade today (probably hotter in other areas), and it’s set to be even warmer over the next week or two. I’ve never liked being out in the hot sun in the past, but, for some reason, I’m enjoying it this year. I’m not out in it for too long unless I’ve covered myself with factor 50 suncream though.

This afternoon, I walked back home from my church through the park and along the river. I just took in all the beauty of our nature, the bright blue sky with hardly a cloud in it; the green leaves on the trees there and the vast assortment of plants and beautiful flowers growing everywhere. As I walked across the park, I spotted a small group of geese (I think the term is a gaggle of geese). I snapped a photo even though they were a bit distant (below). You can see how dry the grass is – it’s almost yellow – we need a good downpour (preferably when everyone is in bed).

my geese in the park Central Park summer

I watched the water splashing down the weir and flowing into the river, and the ducks bobbing up and down searching for food. Nearby, there were a couple of robins and collared doves pecking for insects in the ground for their lunch.

male & female ducks in water Bing image

It wasn’t so long ago, I spotted a male and female swan with their cygnets (below). There were eight of them and recently, I saw them in the distance with seven babies. It was lovely to know that so many had survived as, being so little, they get attacked easily by bigger creatures.

Swans and cignets (cropped photo) close up

As you know, I don’t usually share photos, but I thought I’d make an exception as I’m enjoying the summer so much this year. Nature is quite stunning, and I’m really struck by its beauty. However, when I got home, I went into the kitchen, and there sitting in the corner of the room, underneath the worktop was the most enormous spider! I’m not a fan! We eyed each other up – he was all hair and long black legs – ugh. [So, what happened to the beauty of nature, I ask?]. It’s not that I hate them; I’d just rather them not be inside my house. As there was no-one there to safely dispatch it to the garden and I couldn’t reach him, I tried staring him out – he won! And I ran (well, wheeled) into the living room. When I went back out later, he’d gone. Where!? I’m worried now … will I have a long-legged ‘friend’ accompanying me to bed tonight?

See the source image

Night-night, Harry! Sweet dreams.

 

EMERGING FROM THE DARKNESS

Dear Friends,

Today is a better day for I am emerging from the darkness, having spent too many days buried in negativity and suffocating with my own self-pity. The character written about in my last blog, I have to confess openly, depicted the darkness and evil I feel within myself when I am sitting at the bottom of the ocean floor amongst the sea urchins, snails and the plankton that exist down there. I despise that black side of me. BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) is characterised by black and white thinking to name but a few, no, many other aspects.

bpd-wordle

I can’t say today is a completely ‘white’ day – they don’t exist in my world (and I question whether they do in other people’s’ lives too). At least I can say at this moment in time, I am experiencing a buff colour sort of day….not too bad but nevertheless beset with pain and problems, frustrations and battles but still keeping my head above water which I don’t always manage to do as those of you who know me will have witnessed on many an occasion. Today, I don’t feel that heaviness of many burdens like a lead weight around my neck and the pitch blackness of my inner turmoil. Today, I am emerging from the darkness….

out of the tunnel

Today, where I am in the world, the sun is shining. I shall go for a walk (well, wheel  in the park in my case). I shall notice the ducks on the river persevering as they swim through the duckweed, the wild rabbits hopping in and out of the hedges, a blue sky above my head only broken up with cotton wool clouds and birds in flight. All these things and more, I take for granted or in fact don’t even notice on dark days and yet the beauty of nature where I happen to live exists in abudance. I only have to open my my eyes and see the daylight. I will make the most of today. Love to you all, Ellie xxx 🙂