Tag Archives: willow

tree.bridge

A most unexpected contrast as I was cycling home from the supermarket. The low, wintry, afternoon sun is full on the bridge and the lady walking through, but the naked tree is black against the gold of the willow stems behind. The shadow of the bridge at work!

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Cerura vinula? Mind the bugs don’t bite!

Cerura_vinula1

No, it didn’t bite!

But Cerura vinula – it almost sounds like a scream! The first the adults knew about them was a screaming 5 year old, running to her mother, pointing to her chest, where 2 impressive caterpillars were firmly attached to her teeshirt.

Margaret had been hiding in the osier bed, and the caterpillars must have climbed on board from there. Perhaps they thought the pink shirt looked tasty.

Well, once the adults had established that the creatures were harmless to children the girls were able to enjoy them. Such a big caterpillar in a small palm, and such startling colour pattern. ideal camouflage among the leaves.

The adult is called a puss moth, but the caterpillar with its sinister forked tail and little hump is no sort of kitten at all.

Everyone was finally delighted with the cerurae!

photo credit

 

A moment observed

I can forgive myself for not recalling Edward Thomas in the small hours last night, but here he is, a century ago in Adlestrop, with blackbirds in the foreground and way away into the background. The birds’ greeting to the sun when the new dawn breaks here in Kent will be echoed, some 8 minutes later, by all the birds of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, as the sun’s rays reach out to them.

Edward Thomas’s Adlestrop

Yes, I remember Adlestrop —
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop — only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

Willow, willow, willow

The self-sown willow in Mrs O’s garden is growing on the boundary. this time last year it was inaccessible behind waves of rampant brambles. I have cleared them over the months, although I see a new purple shoot every time I visit as the roots send buds to seek the sun and reclaim the land in leaf and thorn. But what about the willow?

i left it unpruned over the Winter to allow its early Spring flowering. The stems bearing pussy catkins were all too high up to contribute  to the display in Mrs O’s garden or her neighbours’, though they formed part of Mrs T’s Valentine’s bouquet, made up our family Easter Tree and graced the Paschal Candle and Baptismal Water at the Easter Vigil.

Willows, of course, are still exploited for making baskets and hurdles, Last May when I tackled the fallen willow in Wales, (See my post Si vis pacem, pare hortum) the new shoots were already evident, thrusting upwards like Mrs O’s brambles; they helped me determine where to make my cuts.

willow

No such work had ever been done here, so I brought all stems down to eye level, about six feet high.That was on Good Friday, and now, four weeks later, there are shoots appearing up and down the stems, and all reaching for the sky.

willow2willow1.

Seeing such abundance, I almost regret not cutting lower down, but we’ll wait and see the year out as we are. As it happens, my pruning saw is at Miss Turnstone’s new house, where it has plenty to get its teeth into.

And maybe I should investigate basket weaving.

Far behind : 4

The pussy willow brought indoors as part of Mrs T’s Valentine’s tribute has begun bursting enthusiastically. As I was pruning this afternoon, I found many buds showing green but also disturbed a tan coloured moth which flew a couple of yards to cover. The snails I found seemed still crusted into their shells, so it must be ground-burrowing slugs that are dining already.

Everything has its moment

 

Everything has its moment

‘Everything has its moment’, said Mrs T.
We had just noticed the long orange stems of the willow by the duck pond, glowing through the morning mist. There are also still plenty of golden leaves on the trees, even some green on the birch, but it’s the gold of autumn that draws the eye to a seedling chestnut. Neither the god-daughters nor the squirrels spotted that nut last autumn – or maybe one of the squirrels buried it and forgot about it.
Everything has its moment. May we be ready for ours!
The Donkey
G. K. Chesterton
When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.