… the foxglove is already sending out tongues in the leaf litter.
Foxgloves are biennial so this plant has grown from this year’s dropped seed, and it is growing leaves now to make it strong in 2021 and prepare for flowering in 2022….
adventures in urban river parks
Now the undergrowth is clear we can see more fungus forms too these hold the light in their glory and seem to me like creatures and a little like offal…I am intrigued by their form, not veiny and branching out as vegetation does, they appear more homogenous, almost like sorbet, or organ-like even perhaps thick tongues, I wonder if they are cellular under the microscope….like many woodland forms this one has an eary appearance…. are they listening…..or tasting… these multi-sensory beings….
later on cleared ground there were yellow ones…
I find out these are Wood ears, Auricularia auricula-judae, aka Tree ears and Jelly ears. This mushroom is often found on fallen Elder and at its freshest in winter – fruits have to be hanging down to identify as Wood ear. You dry them out and rehydrate them in your stew. Replace Cloud ears in oriental cooking.
Ivy is everywhere all year and stands out more in winter, on clambering the paths I notice the ground scattered with ivy stars, these little tumblers settle into the leaf litter – I wish I could upload smells – I look around and see the ivy vines make musical shapes from trees, like woodland harps, or form crouching figures around fence posts, soon it seems there is an audience and performance going on all around …..
Observing ivy leaves to date I’d erroneously believed there to be a veiny pointed sort and a more glossy rounded sort, actually the pointed and very veined is the young climber, as the vines mature the jagged leaf form melts into a rounder one and the leaves become glossier, here the vines are making bushes where they will now produce fruits I have seen robust and deadly looking black berries and these lively yellow asterisks, the woodland birds pick them off and feast from them ……there was a game we played as children called “jacks” also called “knucklebones” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knucklebones
The flood water abates and, as new paths reveal themselves in the Glen ….so do new views (with a little help from “M”, resident path keeper, I saw him on the grassy knoll before Christmas, clearing the way up through briars, prickling gorse and twining, snaring undergrowth, a path maker’s winter job to be tramped down by followers like me)
A walk with friends, on a blue skied day with cool Northerly winds, we saw that in the Council’s dumping ground a giant cyprus tree had been cut down, today – it looked healthy and my heart lurched and felt heavy, where from? …we strolled around and saw more tractors zooming in at the entrance of the zigzag, so it had been cut from outside of the park, so sad, it looked healthy and aged…G took a small branch home and I kept a nut for a keepsake.
the pink bicycle was still on the football pitch, someone has propped it up …asking to be taken home
Cedarwood smells like pencils!
And so I find out from google that the most popular wood for pencils is in fact Cedarwood! ….Cedar is fragrant, soft, rot-resistant wood that makes great construction material for a variety of things, including pencils – which sharpen easily without splintering… there is a type of American cedar called “Pencil cedar“
Today my mission was to go and seek out the flowers I’ve noticed lately just coming into bloom. They grow in swathes of ground I normally overlook, as the plants grow everywhere they can find a patch, and are considered by many to be a nuisance, at best unwelcome, and though the leaf is pretty en masse they can appear as a grubby kind of a plant, this year the late flowers surprised me and made me see their beauty
I find out its name is Winter Heliotrope // Petasites pyrenaicus/fragrans // Plúr na gréine.
The flower is a beauty with its lily shaped leaf and heavenly scent, the Winter Heliotrope is much maligned as a neophyte, an intruder, invasive because of its very efficient rhizomatic propagation, sending out stems in all directions, which take root, growing new plants and weaving vast carpets across all neglected bits of land, damp loving, shade tolerating and hardy, it’s perfectly suited to our weather and its early canopy ensures there is little competition from other species in the areas it covers.
Heliotropes are named for their flower heads that follow the movement of the sun, and these beauties, blooming in winter as they do, provide a food supply for bees, so much so they used to be planted near hives for the bees. They smell lovely, some say like vanilla, and so they were formally known as Petasites fragrans. The Winter Heliotrope has a sister plant known as Butterbur, Petasites hybridus which don’t have any scent. They arrived here from across The Mediteranean (imported via England in 1806) and are now naturalised, and so their status is one of neophyte, which means ‘newly planted’ in Greek, we have only the male flowers here. Petasites propogate rhizomatically, which means they spread via their roots, and this is why they appear as carpets.
Friends of the Glen gathered under a blue sky we walked and halted in sunny spots cool spots and midge infested spots, we met William a man who had been lifted out of the Glen River as a boy by the hand of God, the river was wider and deeper then and the North Bank was lower, there were no trees and there were steps built into the wall, near ‘The Hatch’. As a boy from Blackpool he came to Goulding’s Glen to hang out by the river, they had to cross the railway tracks to arrive and there were mysterious underground cellars where they played. This was in the 1950s when he was a youngster who didn’t swim. The river swelled and took him from the bank, he saw the steps and he saw some fishermen on the far side and he went under, believing he would drown when suddenly he was lifted and placed on the wall, no one was near by, as a child he thought nothing of it, only now in the retelling he imagines a supernatural force. He has only recently spoken about this incident, I felt privileged to hear the tale.
There were no trees here then, and the wall has since been rebuilt without steps. Today it is a favourite spot for gatherings and we picked up a few cans and a bottle with a miniature mossy world growing inside it.
We walked some more and met friends and familiar faces, dogs greeted us and Rhonda the basset hound in our posse, whose ears dangled in the puddles as she drank, and who became skittish as the morning progressed…..
The Fire Station lights in conversation with the bright fairy lights of Gorse, so merrily they interact in winter leading to the shortest day, as in summer when one calls to the other on the nights leading up to St John’s Bonna Night and the burnings of summer solstice with other lights – sky/water/city/railings/trees ~