Cotoneaster Almost Love


It has been said, mainly by myself, that I don’t like cotoneasters.  This is not altogether true.  Perhaps an exaggeration for the purposes of drama.  In fact I quite like this one, and many of its ilk have engendered a smile of approval.  What I do dislike are dusty, industrial hedge-trimmer massacred, generally neglected, supermarket car park Cotoneaster horizontalis.  This one however is just fine.  Not quite, but almost love.

Six on Saturday – Monochrome

dahlia seed head

This week I have, like many others it would seem, been undertaking a challenge.  My task has been to post a black and white photograph on Facebook, each day for seven days.  Usually I avoid these modern day chain letters, but on this occasion I thought it might be good fun.  There are a few rules.  The picture is to reflect the contributor’s daily life, must not feature people and the contents are to be left unexplained.   So on this dismal November day I thought I would continue this theme with my Six on Saturday, the only other internet team sport I participate in, curated by the magnificent The Propagator.

It is to be a hybrid of memes.  Six black and white photographs, taken in my garden, with a description of sorts.  To reflect the current dark depressive weather I have also decided that these monochrome pictures are to channel Ingmar Bergman rather than my usual Keystone Cops.  In that mood I will continue.

Our first photo is of a dahlia seed head; misunderstood, searching for some glimmer of hope in a loveless world.  Its damp and musty bonce bowed in disappointment, unlikely to fulfil its potential. 

Next we have a lonely leaf, clinging on desperately to the mother plant, determined not to let go, although the inevitable must surely happen.  We are all doomed to fall.

Now to the experiment in the basement.  Like a House of Horror exhibit the garlic cloves languish, infusing their magic to create a dangerous elixir.  A destroyer of aphid and all sap suckers and leaf munchers.

Onto the shag pile leaf of Salvia argentea.  This abused plant has struggled on for the past couple of years.  Once the euphoria of germination had passed, others have taken over in the affection of the gardener.  Unlikely to survive a winter outside, hanging on by a thread, but hanging on.

Pebbles, a bleached shell, a broken piece of pot.  All is desolate, unyielding and lifeless.

Lastly we have the euryops, a bud of hope in this dreary world.  All being well it will continue to produce buttercup yellow flowers throughout the winter, brightening and lifting the spirits.  Oblivious and defiant.

Well I couldn’t leave you on a low now could I?

Thanks Mr P.  Same time, same place?


Colquhounia coccinea

Today was spent dodging showers.  Sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  In the greenhouse I planted tulips and potted up cuttings.  Curiously, one of the Colquhounia coccinea cuttings had produced, as well as some fine roots, an attempt at a flower.  I should probably remove this orange-lined scarlet trumpet.  Its efforts should be concentrated on producing roots and building strength for the winter, not wasted on frivolous showing off.  But I didn’t.  I rather admired its ambition.

School Days

Erica arborea Albert's Gold

Every day we learn something new.   I am of course being presumptuous.  What I mean is that for me each day is a school day and I am quite happy that way.  How things change.  Hopefully it is the same for you too.  Today I learned that the full name of this stunning tree heather is Erica arborea var. alpina f. aureifolia ‘Albert’s Gold’.

Every day I forget many things.  I have a feeling this may be one of them.

Bridges, Bees and a Miracle

Today my car went for an MOT.  The garage I use is on an industrial estate just outside Barnstaple, not the most convenient for us but they have always been kind and helpful and, most importantly, not patronising.  The plan was that I would drop the car off early and walk into town to do a little shopping, some chores, maybe a little lunch, and wait for their call.  If it was not for the fact that the Sword of Damocles was hanging over my head, it was a treat, it is rare that I get a few hours of enforced town-dom.  Christmas is coming and all that.  A good opportunity.

Although the walk to the centre takes a good 25 minutes, it is not a trial.   Especially not today.  After just a few minutes, passing fenced off factories, forklifts, portacabin cafes and sneaky smokers, I can dip down off the main road and onto the Tarka Trail.  This was once a rail line, a victim of the Beeching closures, and is now a cycle and walking route which will take me all the way to Barnstaple.  On such a glorious morning, I took the opportunity to dawdle, taking photos, greeting runners and dog walkers, and running dog walkers, cyclists whooshing past.  Just looking.  No need to hurry.

I love bridges, ancient stone or concrete and carbon, bascule, cantilever and suspension.  The bridge that spans the river here, the Taw Bridge, is no exception, such a gentle curve, elegant and understated.

Taw Bridge

As the traffic streamed across the bridge I wandered, wondering how many folk travelled this line on their way to holidays in Ilfracombe, and about the packed boxes of tulip bulbs and cut flowers that passed from the Braunton Great Fields to Covent Garden and beyond.  bee

Along this route something ancient still holds strong, umbellifers and bees, brambles and animal runs, crumbling boats.  Sparrows squabbled and terns drifted by silently, like spirits.

Then onto the next bridge, this time the Yeo, a wood and steel structure constructed in 2000.  Its curving ribs remind me of a book I read as a girl about a castaway girl who made a home from a whale skeleton.  Comforting, cocooning.

Cormorants and gulls vied for position, although unlike the continually dipping cormorants the seagulls seemed uninterested in fishing, rather enjoying the barely perceptible outgoing tide gently caressing them towards the sea.

And then the prize, and the final bridge, just seen in the distance, Barnstaple’s medieval Long Bridge.

The miracle was that my car passed its MOT.  So although the return journey was over-cast and I was laden with shopping, I still had a spring in my step.  The tide was almost out and a cormorant sat in the midst of a sand bar, ruler of this temporary kingdom.