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

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.

 

THE REASON FOR THE SEASON

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Well…..here we are again! It’s nearly Christmas and the country has gone mad! Everywhere you look, everywhere you go, people are pushing and shoving to get last minute bargains or expensive gifts to give to their loved ones and fill the childrens’ Christmas stockings. Food is selling so fast, the supermarkets can hardly keep up with filling the shelves quickly enough. Millions of trees are being chopped down to become fairy lit trees, and processed into cheap Christmas cards that will be hastily written, expensively posted, arriving at their destination only to be dropped into peoples’ rubbish bins (or if they’re really lucky, the recycle sack), after a few days of gathering dust on the mantlepiece! All for two days! Two days! And all that waste…. and for what?  For the sake of commercialism and ‘feeding’ the ‘fat-cats’ who are at the top, making all the profit and doing little of the work in most situations. Come the 25th we’ll all be sitting down and stuffing ourselves with turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes, chipolatas, pudding, cake, mince pies, chocolates and sweets, alcohol and so much more and then complaining we’ve all got bellyache! It’s all so much and yet there are hundreds or more hungry and homeless people in the country. To say nothing of the rest of the world which is another story entirely!

Christmas-Dinner-dp

I’m far from perfect. I know that and I include myself in the above but I am not sending numerous cards; instead I’m giving what I can afford to charities of my choosing and will probably send some e-cards to those fortunate enough to have technology at hand. I will chatting on the phone to those family members that I am still have contact with and to close friends (a privilege I appreciate); I have an artificial Christmas tree and Christmas dinner and ‘trimmings’ will not be over-extravagant. And you may cry “bah, humbug” at me but, truly, what on Earth has happened to Christmas?

I mean the real Christmas. I mean the real reason for the season? Where does Jesus fit into all this? Yes, many churches will be holding Christmas services and that’s when the churches are bursting at the seams, (once a year!). What about the rest of the year? Christmas is for giving – giving of ourselves to God as well as giving to those less fortunate than ourselves in every sense.

Where in the bible does it say “thou shalt stuff thyself with turkey”, or that “thou shalt have more Christmas cards than thy neighbour”?

What about the birth of Jesus? In the bible it reads (Luke 2:4-7, 10-11)

Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, the birthplace of King David. Joseph went there because he was a descendant of David. He went to register with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him. She was pregnant, and while they were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have her baby. She gave birth to her first son, wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger—there was no room for them to stay in the inn.10 but the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people. 11 This very day in David’s town your Savior was born—Christ the Lord! 

This is what we need to be celebrating – the birth of our Lord and King who was born and came to save us from our sins and who died in order that we may have eternal life. I know for me, as a believer, that this fact brings me a lot of comfort and peace.

nativity

But….don’t get me wrong! I am just speaking from my own point of view and beliefs. I respect the fact that everyone has their own ideas of what is right and what is wrong; what is true and what is not. I don’t intend to ram what I believe in down everybody else’s throats – I’m not really a Scrooge but I’m just saying….ok?!