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Showing posts from 2018

The lost orchard of Stirchley

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'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

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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.

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Extract from 'Lillie's Journal of Garden Delights'

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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.

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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- https://twitter.com/Andy_Underscore

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. …