Saturday, 24 June 2017


Now gracing the lanes and tracksides across the Peak is the white Elder Flower, following on from Rowan and Hawthorn. Like Rowan, and unlike Hawthorn, Elder is a fast-growing and short-lived tree and often to be seen in a state of decline with bark stripping off.

Standing in their favour is their culinary value. Hawthorn is a much more robust and long-lived tree but most people leave the haws for the birds.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Bottom Up

Wild flowers are at their best when pushing through a good variety of neighbouring plants more or less harmoniously.

Some spiked flowers open from the top down others from the bottom up.
Foxglove is everywhere at the moment co-existing with bracken.

It's a bottom-upper. The lower green seed heads close securely before the final flowering at the top. Close to genuine democracy.


This is Chicken Licken day. The sky is falling down. After hot still days and a morning of strong breezes we were dodging pine cones.

Things are bad enough here but elsewhere it might be flaming panels.
The centre cannot hold. Let's go and tell the queen.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Solstice Singing at Half Past Three

Sunrise offically today in Sheffield is set at 04.37. A Blackbird was singing an hour earlier than this. This bird is the greatest star among native birds. As the season progresses his music improves, developing in confidence and melodic quality. Earlier on it may have been more intense, even nervy, but by now it's possible to detect a rhapsodic element and a fruitier tone.

There are those, always will be, who scorn our enjoyment of bird song on this level. I've always felt instinctively that there is common ground between great music and the natural sounds of birds. We know that birds are marking out their claims to territories and declaring their self importance as something to be reckoned with. There are few human musicians to whom this has not applied.

Delius' First Cuckoo might conceivably have been even better if he had written about the Blackbird yet his Song Before Sunrise captures something of the joy in natural beauty. 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017


Either side of the paths we are likely to see many flowering plants thriving on the margins disturbed by walkers over many years. This is where the greatest density and variety of common plants are to be found, many of them familiar as weeds targeted by tidy gardeners but here given the space and freedom to show what they can do alongside others.

The last time I tried to count the number of these species I got to over thirty in June before giving up. And at times they create a mix of contrasting forms as might be compared with any highly managed herbaceous border. Further back from the margins the variety declines with less disturbance allowing the more vigorous species to get a stong hold.

I prefer the informal and unintentional effects of man's presence to the attempted planning of supposed nature reserves with grazing disturbance allegedly creating more diversity by the animals disturbance of the ground. I've watched these management fads for many years and seen no clear evidence that they work on this site, and certainly have left the place in a worse state than benign neglect would do.

I looked at this patch of grass with daisies, buttercups, speedwell etc and wondered how long it would be so pleasant bearing in mind the presence of 16 cows nearby.

As it happened the farm livestock did not get the chance. A few days later a party of SWT's workforce arrived with strimmers to perform a task much like that of the Highways people along the main road.

Some places have so far happily escaped. There we might see, among the many common flowers some Twayblade Orchid.

Unfortunately the white Vetch found in previous years only near the gate post here, has not been given a chance. As I've said before, machines dictate the work and humans are losing free will and handing over power.