Monday, 3 October 2022

A Sunny Autumn Afternoon in the Garden

 We had a lovely afternoon in Crafty green Boyfriend's Mum's garden yesterday. The hydrangeas are looking lovely 

As are the apple trees. The cooking apple tree seems to have more apples than ever!

I've given cooking apples away to several people already, but three seems to be an endless supply! The eating apple tree is covered with fruit too, though it's a much smaller tree

There are some nice little fungi in one corner of the garden, I've not yet worked out what species they are!

We were happy to get a visit from Atticus, the neighbour's cat, who posed nicely for a photo then rolled around and was happy to be petted. He's a lovely, friendly cat. 

And talking of cats, I'm very happy that my poem Leopard Falls at Midnight has been included in Visual Verse Volume 9, Chapter 11. You can read the whole chapter and see the artwork that inspired it all here.

Sunday, 2 October 2022

A Walk Along the River Almond

 Yesterday the weather was very changeable, one minute bright sunshine, the next pouring rain. We took a walk along the River Almond, starting in the rain at Cramond 

The Mallards were sitting tight on the river 

as was this Mute Swans 

The sun came out before we left Cramond 

and we walked upriver. The river is very brown, but this here is nothing to really worry about, being mostly peat from the uplands which is carried downstream when there's heavy rain. 

Down in England these days, many rivers are brown due to illegal sewage discharges. If you are in the UK and are concerned about the threat to our natural environment posed by our current government under our new Prime Minister Liz Truss, then please consider taking part in this campaigning action on the RSPB website

While we were walking up the Almond, we saw this Grey Heron patiently fishing 

A Kingfisher flew upriver and a Grey Wagtail danced across the path ahead of us. Meanwhile, up above, a Buzzard was chased by a large flock of Carrion Crows

The early Autumn trees looked particularly beautiful in the sunlight 

Several fungi were out, including these Jelly Antlers 

While we were waiting at the bus stop to get back home, we noticed several craneflies, five (the females) that had tiny, almost non-existent wings and only one (the male) had full sized wings. I think they're Tipula pagana. The photo below shows a female


I'm delighted to have two senryu included in Issue 82 of Failed Haiku. You can read the whole issue here.

Friday, 30 September 2022

Hidden Gardens of Edinburgh

 Usually when I give guided walks, at least some people in the group have never been to that particular location before. This week, however, I have been introduced to two new gardens in the course of guided walks I've led. The first of these was the Archivists' Garden, nestled between Register House and New Register House at the east end of Prince's Street. 

This garden was established in 2010 and contains 57 species of plants, specially chosen for their connection to some aspect of Scottish history. Some plants here are connected to specific individuals from Scottish history, some have roles in Scottish tradition and some are connected with Scottish myths and legends. 

There is a useful noticeboard in the garden (and similar information on the garden's website) but although all the species of plants in the garden are listed, I can't seem to find anything that matches specific plants with their specific link to Scottish history.

The garden is only open during office hours (9-5, Monday to Friday) but is a lovely place to have a wee seat during your lunch break.

The second garden that I only discovered this week is the Physic Garden at Holyrood Palace. 

When Mary, Queen of Scots lived at Holyrood Palace in 1561, there were a number of private gardens, including a walled garden, which was developed into the physic garden in 1670. The physic garden measured just four square metres and was planted with around 90 medicinal plant species. This physic garden was the original precursor for the Royal Botanic Gardens, now situated in the Inverleith area of Edinburgh.  

The current physic garden at Holyrood Palace was established in 2020 and has raised flowerbeds laid out in a geometric pattern, reflecting the design of early botanic gardens. The garden includes medicinal plants that would have been grown in the 17th century. Alongside the physic garden, a flowering meadow evokes the 15th-century monastic garden of Holyrood Abbey. This has recently been mown, but will look beautiful again in Spring and Summer. 

You can find out more about the history of the Physic Garden at Holyrood Palace here

There is a brief history of all the historic physic gardens in Edinburgh on the Royal College of Physicians Website here.

Thursday, 29 September 2022

Scottish Kirkyards by Dane Love


Scottish Kirkyards offers an introduction to the history of Burial Grounds in Scotland. The book starts with examining what is known of burial rites in prehistoric and early historic times, looking at structures such as the chambered cairns that are still to be found in some prehistoric sites. 

The book focuses on historical kirkyards, which are burial places associated with Christian churches, highlighting the kirkyard as a place of rest, while also looking at the information that can be gleaned from gravestones that indicate details such as occupation and cause of death of the people buried there. Other chapters look at epitaphs, stories from cemeteries and a brief history of the body snatchers that used to dig up bodies to sell on to medical schools. 

Although the book doesn't focus on nature in kirkyards, the topic is mentioned a few times, including the fact that kirkyards are undisturbed by agriculture and so are often home to plants which may be relatively rare outside the kirkyard. Yew trees are discussed as symbols of immortality due to the great age they often reach (the Fortingall Yew, which grows in a kirkyard in Perthshire is reputed to be over 3,000 years old.) Rowan and holly are also considered to be holy trees and are often found in kirkyards. 

Not all burial grounds are kirkyards of course and this book makes mention of the Victorian Garden Cemeteries, of which there are several in Edinburgh (including North Merchiston Cemetery, our local cemetery, where I'm on the committee of the Friends Group). When they "were first established these were looked upon as great parks commemorating the dead, places where one should walk along the paths and learn from the example of those who had gone before... A fair number of these 'gardens of death' were laid out on hills, so that the path meandered up the slopes to a prominent viewpoint, which added to their popularity for walks".

This book, with copious illustrations and photos, is a fascinating read for anyone interested in Scottish kirkyards.  

Scottish Kirkyards by Dane Love, published by Robert Hale (1989) and republished by Amberley (2010)

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Autumn Sunlight Through Trees and a Couple of Fungi

 There's a chill in the air, but the sunlight is beautiful. The trees look wonderful just as they're starting to look autumnal.


 As well as doing my weekly river patrol, I'm currently also leading guided nature walks around Craiglockart Dell along the Water of Leith, Autumn is a perfect time to share this lovely place with interested people. We're looking at all aspects of nature, including fungi, such as this Common Puffball 

I also popped into North Merchiston Cemetery at lunchtime and noticed these Common Inkcaps growing in the grass

Sunday, 25 September 2022

Autumn Sunshine on Arthur's Seat

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day (we still need more rain, but it is nice to enjoy the sunshine!). Crafty Green Boyfriend and I went for a walk round Arthur's Seat, one of our favourite places to walk. But first we popped into East Preston Street Cemetery, which has great views of Arthur's Seat

a view of Arthur's Sear from East Preston Street Cemetery

I noticed several spiders' webs glittering in the sunshine in the shrubbery and some of the photos even came out nicely (spiders' webs are something I find particularly difficult to capture on film)

Spiders' webs in a green leaved shrub

a different view of spiders' webs in the same green leafed shrub
We then continued to walk towards Arthur's Seat itself, passing by Salisbury Crags.

a view of Salisbury Crags and the Edinburgh skyline

The route continues with lovely views over Duddingston Loch.

a view of Duddingston Loch from the road round Arthur's Seat

 The bramble bushes are taking on their wonderful autumnal colours

red and ochre coloured leaves on a bramble bush

We stopped at Dunsapie Loch, where I was impressed by the reflections of the clouds in the water.

clouds reflected in water

Rather than turning back at that point, we then continued on the circular path around Arthur's Seat, this is the view looking back to Dunsapie Loch.

a view of Arthur's Seat with a road in the foreground

There are lots of trees along this part of the route, and Speckled Wood Butterflies are often found here, yesterday was no exception, thanks to Crafty Green Boyfriend for this photo

a Speckled Wood Butterfly on a leaf

We ended our walk at St Margaret's Loch

St Margaret's Loch

where there were a number of young Herring Gulls, including this one 

a young Herring Gull on water


I'm delighted to have an Autumnal haiku included in Haiku Seed's Blossoms here.

Friday, 23 September 2022

Autumn in the Cemeteries

 Since lockdown was first eased and we could meet with people again outside, something that has become much more popular (at least among people I know) is having meetings outdoors! So today, I met up with a colleague / friend and we walked around the local cemeteries. 

We were very impressed with this array of ink caps and bracket fungi in Dalry Cemetery

A tree stump with bracket fungi on the left hand side and ink caps on the right hand side

Here's a close up of the ink caps 

A close up of ink caps growing beneath and between green leaves

There were also some fungi in North Merchiston Cemetery, these look like edible field mushrooms, but as there are other fungi that look similar, I wouldn't be too sure. 

an area of grass with white mushrooms growing in it

a close up of three white mushrooms growing amongst fallen leaves

The leaves are starting to change colour too!

Bright yellow Autumnal leaves on the branch of a tree