The lost orchard of Stirchley

'The Fruit and Nut Village' Plums and damsons, apples and blackberries, mouthwatering delights mostly hidden amongst the slow rolling tide of bramble amidst forgotten riverside pasture. The bramble is pervasive and laden this year with plump, ripe pickings feasted upon and collected in punnets for home consumption, although pick one eat two seems to be the method most favoured.

 There's a continuing interest for food growing nearby, especially fruits, in a city well known for its gardens, parks and allotments; and a somewhat neglected parcel, partly known as Ten Acres together with its east-of-river neighbouring land of no particular name these days, is mostly traversed by speeding cyclist, striding greenway commuter, meandering dog walker and tottering youngster or elder, generally paying no attention left or right.
Sue tells us of a man who knew a man who once planted fruit trees at the edge of the old pasture, damsons, apples and plums, possibly 50 or more years ago. There…

Woodlands, Trees and Tree People

Woodlands, Trees and Tree People

The woodlands are active again with leaf burst and birdsong heralding a new year, although at Holders Woods 'Down To Earth' it never ceases or even slows down, with up to 80 people gathering every Monday morning. All ages enjoy the setting, the social connectivity, the activities and the wonderful cohesive mix of families from Birmingham and beyond.

There's always a buoyant and jubilant interest in woodland, and whilst standing-talking amongst the lofty Oaks and Beeches at Holders, a spiritual  connection often arises as we look skyward, impressed by the dimensional heights and the cathedral-like perpendicular architecture, which has held humans captivated for a hundred thousands years and more. It's a primitive 'down to earth' moment of reflection marrying thoughts of our existence through time, spacial distance, heritage and the present.

Details for joing in can be found by following this link -…

Extract from 'Lillie's Journal of Garden Delights'

Chapter IV  A hedgehog's view "The Ladies paraded in their finery during a mid April morn, shrouding the Lords in protective fashion.
Whilst Jack was nearby somewhat removed from the hedge but sheltered under Hawthorn with peeping greenery, and with an overview of endless visitors, not quite ready but getting there by verdant repose.
"Hello there" piped Herb Robert to Stickless William,
"And a fine morning to you too", Dandi and Willowherb.
The tufts of flowerless grasses loitered here and there with Speedwell and Sow Thistle in company

Hazel with Chives and Parsley are doing fine alongside Coltsfoot and Comfrey, all someone prostrate and dwafed by Sycamore and Ash in a combined yet not-too-well-thoughtout encounter. 
Reluctantly, Wood Pigeon cooed some sort of encouragement and had done so since dawn, by which time Song Thrush had serenaded the new day.

Here now we have the lesser of the Celandines, always eager to please, smiling for the time being and …

Wildlife on your doorstep - The Rea Valley is blessed, and so are those walking it.

You don't have to travel great distances to appreciate wildlife, and if you're lucky enough to be in a striking line of a river or other water body then you are truly blessed.

Birmingham might not be known for its great water courses but it can boast a fine network of canals and dynamic, vibrant rivers, brooks, streams, rills and runnels, together with reservoirs, lakes, ponds and pools, not to mention wet grasslands and woodlands alongside.

Andy Slater pays regular tribute throughout the year to the green spaces and wildlife of the Rea Valley and beyond; from the tiniest beasts to the changes in time and space he catalogues, journals and photographs with a naturalists eye. - check out his Twitter page for splendid images-

A first lesson for aspiring naturalists is to get to know the species in nearby gardens and parks before stepping into the wilds, and if the imagination is given free reign and/or rein then the wilds are on the doorstep too. …

A Good Yew News Story - UPDATE

Following the alarming cut back of an ancient Yew tree in March 2015, I'm please to report that two years of healthy looking regrowth to this ancient specimen, reported by specialists to be around 850 years old, provides great hope and blessed relief that the tree has not only survived the ordeal but should continue to thrive and live on for many more centuries.

Nature Improvement proposals and CONSULTATION for the Rea Valley

What are Nature Improvement Areas? The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country say-
NIAs are designed to revitalise urban and rural areas by creating bigger, inter-connected networks of wildlife habitats to re-establish wildlife populations and help achieve nature’s recovery. NIAs will improve the health of the natural environment to support food production, reduce flood risk and increase access to nature. NIAs encompass areas of land that include natural features and wildlife habitats but also include roads, housing developments and other man-made elements. They are areas that have been identified for their opportunities to restore nature at a landscape-scale alongside other land-uses. NIAs should enhance existing ecological networks by:
• Improving the management of existing wildlife sites
• Increasing the size of existing wildlife sites
• Increasing the number of wildlife sites
• Improving connectivity between sites
• Creating wildlife corridors

Follow this link for more inform…

Beyond The Rea and off to historic Hill Top Nature Reserve in Sandwell Valley Country Park

Hill Top, at the western edge of Birmingham, bordering the Sandwell Valley Country Park.
An intriguing and ancient broad green lane runs SE to NW, passing the old farmsteads of 'Hill Top' and 'The Uplands'.
The track is hollowed, hence holloway
Hill Top today (top) 1890 (below)
The holloway looks like an ancient green road running south-east to north-west, and many of the field lines either side are the same today as in 1890. The old farmsteads of 'The Uplands' and 'Hill Top' can be located, with clusters of trees emanating from the hedge line

From the 1890's map below it looks as if The Uplands is a landscaped estate with an avenue of trees laid out to the north of the house. A much larger building than nearby Hill Top Farm and complete with stables and other out buildings.
Hill top Farm from the 1950's

A wonderful and essentially green expanse of unwritten and untold history, crossed and crossed again, north south east west and grazed for centuries.