Tuesday 29 July 2008

Evening Rain

A brief heavy downpour
-almost tropical-

dark clouds lift
a pale rainbow

dance across the sky

chimney pots
glow with evening

distant thunder
later becomes a storm

Monday 28 July 2008

Gorgie City Farm - Sugar

This is Sugar, the daughter of Daisy, Gorgie City Farm's star bunny. She seems to actually be happier to pose for the camera than her mother, but apparently she can be quite bad tempered whereas Daisy is very laid back....

Sunday 27 July 2008

Colinton Dell

The riverbanks profuse with flowers, the hot pink of rosebay willow herb, the bright white of umbellifers and the various yellows of too many species to count.

The umbellifers (wild carrot and cow parsley) alive with insects, the thin vivid red of soldier beetles, the rigid black of flies that move their wings to reveal lemon yellow bodies, the tiny irridescent black beetles that gather in groups.

A strange lack of birds, explained when we hear the call of a hunting sparrowhawk.

heat haze -
two dragonflies black
against the sky.

A walk along Colinton Dell

Saturday 26 July 2008


This is the new shed and garden composting area in the backgreen, built by the Green Caretakers, who operate the Backgreen Initiative and paid for by a grant to encourage community recycling. Inside one shed is the kitchen composting facility and in the other are the garden tools. Green Caretakers are a social enterprise and charges are made to use the composting facility and to hire the tools - there are overall packages available such as a tidy backgreen service and a combined backgreen and stairwell tidying and cleaning package. However if you live in a tenement where you can't get a majority of residents to sign up to these packages, you find yourself having to pay just to use tools or to compost kitchen waste, even if you're a volunteer with the project, hmm....

Anyway, I spent part of yesterday clearing litter from the path connecting our stairwell's backgreen to the communal area. I left behind any biodegradable litter, such as wood and also anything that was being used as a home by woodlice etc. The photo below shows the path after I had cleared the brambles, nettles and overhanging branches but before I had cleared the litter. The gardens either side of the path belong to other stairs in the block and I can't do anything with those other than prune overhanging branches and remove the worst types of weeds and litter that are at the edge of the path.

The next task is obviously to do some more weeding. I'm a reluctant weeder, because I like plants too much but the path just doesn't look nice (though at least its really a path now!). I'm also going to sow seeds in some of the verges once I've weeded. I'll buy a packet of shade tolerant wildflower seeds and sow next Spring.

Friday 25 July 2008

My favourite wildflower

garden party -
I'm told not to let
flowers distract me.

Vipers Bugloss (the wonderful blue and purple stem of flowers in the middle of the photo) has always been my favourite wildflower, even before I'd ever seen it in real life.

photo taken at the Thistle Wildlife Garden, Edinburgh

Thursday 24 July 2008


As I've mentioned previously in this blog, the backgreen garden behind our flat is part of one of the areas chosen for regeneration by the Edinburgh Backgreen Initiative. We were involved right at the beginning when the project was in its planning stages for our backgreen but then because we had difficulties getting a key for the backdoor of the stair and because a lot of workshops were on dates that clashed with other things, we weren't able to get involved. But yesterday, at last we were able to get to this month's workshop! About ten people from the surrounding tenement flats were there and we all worked on different aspects of the garden. I spent almost two hours removing brambles, nettles and obstructive branches from the pathway that leads from our stairwell to the communal area of the garden, only removing enough plants to make it into a serviceable path - nettles may be horrible stingy things (yes I did get stung!) but they're great for butterflies and there are still plenty of nettles around out there!

It was really nice to be out there on such a lovely evening. We saw loads of swifts, and one of our neighbours pointed out where one pair are nesting. Now that we've seen how the backgreen maintenance is managed, we'll be down there regularly to help keep it tidy - and to watch the swifts. Photos will follow in due course!

Also yesterday I saw a beautiful spider on a plant at Gorgie Farm, looking through photos on the internet , I realised it was a Candy Stripe spider (Enoplagnatha ovata).

Wednesday 23 July 2008

Hold Hands Among the Atoms - Edwin Morgan

Edwin Morgan is for me without doubt the greatest Scottish poet. His work is consistently vivid and verbally inventive. His issue based work is powerful and moving, his love poetry tender. This is a book of poetry Morgan wrote to celebrate his 70th birthday in 1990. The poems cover a variety of issues including nature and the environment in poems such as A Fuchsia, A Waterhorse and A Defence, which is an endearing portrait of the magpie:

a batch of tumbling clockwork liquorice allsorts,
spruce, spliced, diced, learning to prance and hurtle
through evening and morning sycamores with what must be
something like happiness

My favourite poem in the collection is An Abandoned Culvert:

The daffodils sang shrill within the culvert.
Their almost acid notes amazed the darkness
culverts are happiest with.

For anyone who admires inventive poetry that fully engages with life, Edwin Morgan has to be on their reading list.

Tuesday 22 July 2008

More Bees Knees

This bush, in the tiny garden in front of our flat, is buzzing with bees at the minute. This is the one photo I took that actually turned out. It's the season for bee photos in blogland, as well as the links in my previous post on the bees knees, there are also wonderful bee photos at:

Crows and Daisies (Polona)
Moments of Perfect Clarity (Julochka)
Ascender Rises (yes another!)
This is My Patch

Its wonderful that there are so many bees around in so many places, because they're having such a hard time. Find out how you can help bees in the UK at the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust website.

Monday 21 July 2008

Gorgie City Farm - wildlife garden

At the lower part of Gorgie City Farm, closest to the main road is the wildlife garden. it's so shady and overgrown that it feels really secluded despite being so close to the road. There's a wildflower patch, bird feeders, a pond and a hibernaculum (a nicely arranged pile of wood to encourage small animals and insects to rest and hibernate). There's also a nice bench to sit on, its a nice place to have a quiet lunch if I don't feel like the social buzz of the cafe...

Sunday 20 July 2008

Malawian haiku


under the mango trees -

mud toilet huts

turn left

for the church and hospital -

straight on for Mozambique

in the shade

of a mango tree -

women work

(These photos are photos of photos and the strange shine on the first two is reflected light on the original photo, no spooky UFOs in Malawi!)

You can read some of my other poems about Malawi by following the links below:

Evening in Malawi (a sestina)


After Sunset Lake Malawi with an accompanying painting here.

Malindi Beach

Foreign Lands for Totally Optional Prompts

Saturday 19 July 2008

Brillante-ly Green

I'm delighted to have been awarded a 'Brillante Weblog' award by Nicole V Lozano of Glass Touch . I am to pass this award on to seven blogs that I enjoy, I've tried to choose a mix of old favourites and blogs I'm just starting to discover and also blogs that offer a mix of creativity and green thinking. Anyway here is the list:

Diana Moll at The Qi Papers - a blog about rabbits and art and philosophy
Liza Lee Miller at The Egrets Nest - poetry and nature
Na at Shadows and Clouds - nature photography and more
Lucy who blogs at Box Elder - poetry, nature and photography and at Out with Mol - short descriptions of her walks with her dog
Duncan Fraser at Ben Cruachan - nature, photography and poetry
Sandy at Gardenpath - nature, photography and poetry

Please take this as the honour it is and pass it on to some of the sites you enjoy. The rules of accepting are as follows:
1) Put the logo on your blog.
2) Add a link to the person who awarded you.
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4) Add links to those blogs on yours.
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.

Friday 18 July 2008

Bees Knees

I love the bees knees and have been trying for ages to find a bee with good knees to photograph so I was very happy when this little creature made its way into our flat and rested on a cat ornament for long enough for me to take a photo. (edited to add: We then helped it to escape by letting it crawl onto a piece of paper which we then put out of the window). I'm really pleased with the photo too as the knees are lovely and yellow! I've seen lots of bees recently, several times I've seen buddleia bushes or flower meadows covered in bees, which is very heartening given that bees across the world are struggling. For more about Bee conservation in the UK, visit the Bumblebee Conservation website.

Sandy over at gardenpath has been taking bee photos recently too, you can see them here.
AscenderRises also posts plenty of photos of bees, which are listed here (click on the titles to see the photos).
I recently posted a poem about bees here and on Bolts of Silk a poem about bees by Howard Good here.

Thursday 17 July 2008

Endless skies

Distant mountains are blue in hazy sky
dead trees reach branches into endless sky

chasing insects, aerobatic swifts dance
never stopping as they caress the sky

people with umbrellas rush through the streets
as grey clouds move slowly across the sky

the town is surrounded by factories
pumping toxins into poisonous sky

scientists stare at their computer screens
as rockets launch progress into the sky

(for a more optimistic view, please feel fere to read the couplets in reverse order!)

ghazal for
Totally Optional Prompts
I also have a ghazal in the ghazal page Moon Radif Challenge, which went live today. The main page for the challenge is
here and you can read my poem if you scroll down on this page.
You can read my earlier ghazals
here and here.

Tuesday 15 July 2008

Gorgie City Farm - Daisy

There are five rabbits at Gorgie City Farm and Daisy is the star! She had her photo in the local newspaper a couple of weeks before I applied for my current job and that photo was my good luck charm for the interview (it obviously worked!). My first day in post, Daisy was out with the mobile pet service, visiting day centres and nursery school (as the rabbits do every Monday). The second day I was in post I wanted to photo the rabbits but couldn't because Daisy was already in the middle of a photo shoot. The third day I managed to get these photos. Daisy is a beautiful grey Netherland dwarf and sometimes reluctant to look at the camera (her fame has made her shy!), her daughter Sugar is also in the left hand corner of the second photo (Sugar will feature in a future post). I hope to get some closer shots in the near future, but currently I'm out and about a lot and also don't take my camera to work every day!

Monday 14 July 2008


Hard to imagine from a rain drenched summer

the sunstroke migraine under sun blonded hair
crops wilting in the fields, cornstalks breaking brown
fish struggling in shallow waters
wildfires raging in tinder dry forests

while from my rainy city I dream
of gentle sunshine on my face.

The sun for Read Write Poem

Sunday 13 July 2008

Crowded with Nature

The lower slopes of the hill in every direction are full of flowers and greenery, lush after all the recent rain.

buzzing with bees -
rosebay willow herb
pink meadow

Oak trees rise from their undergrowth, the ends of their branches heavy with numerous new acorns. A shield bug like a jewel sits on the end of one branch.

Further up the hill, the woodland takes over, branches meeting overhead, the light green and quiet beneath the myriad leaves. A squirrel runs along a wall, a rabbit jumps through a fence. The air is alive with insects and birdsong.

A song thrush sings -
invisible blackcaps

Corstorphine Hill, Edinburgh
Crowded for Weekend Wordsmith

You can see some of my photos of Corstorphine Hill in earlier posts here, here and here.

Saturday 12 July 2008

haiku - birds

grey rain streaks the carpark -
.........................an unexpected yellowhammer

Friday 11 July 2008

Suntrap Garden, Edinburgh

I visited the Suntrap Garden in the west of Edinburgh, yesterday. It's a wonderful place, full of small gardens each with a different focus, there's a formal garden, an Italian garden, some mini allotments and a collection of bonsai trees. In this post I've included photos of some of the examples of recycled crafts and environmentally friendly gardening at Suntrap. In the first photo you can see the mini compost bins in the mini allotments, you can also see sedum roofs on top of the green archways, sedum is often planted on green roofs as it is low growing and resilient. The sedum roofs here were recycled from a demonstration roof that had been used in a gardening show. In the second photo you can see a mini greenhouse made from recycled plastic bottles.

The third photo shows a display made from recycled materials with plants growing over them. This display was made by pupils from a school that has worked with the Suntrap. As well as being a wonderful garden, the Suntrap is an adult education centre, part of a local college, offering evening classes in garden design and amateur gardening and working with adults with learning disabilities, secondary school pupils and using volunteers to do a fair amount of the work of the garden. Suntrap is also open to the public most days and plants are available for sale.

As a haiku writer, I think the bonsai trees deserve a post of their own, so watch out for that in the next week or so...

Thursday 10 July 2008

Mayfly Time

heat hazes the sky

swallows swoop
lazily across the lake
to catch mayfly

for mayfly
irridescent in the sun
this languid day
is the full eternity
of their lives

Tempo for Totally Optional Prompts

Wednesday 9 July 2008

Gorgie City Farm - sheep

Behind the main farm buildings of Gorgie City Farm is a steep hill where most of the sheep live, here are just a few of them, photographed the week before last, before the sheep were sheared.

Tuesday 8 July 2008

Gorgie City Farm - wildflower meadow

Just behind the main farm buildings at Gorgie City Farm there's this small and beautiful wildfower meadow where wheat is also being grown I believe! This photo was taken the week before last.

Monday 7 July 2008

Sunday 6 July 2008

Altered Book

I mentioned a while ago that I had found the perfect book to alter (because there are missing pages and pages repeated) and I've now at last started working on it. This is the first page I've altered. The text is about monitoring moths at sand dunes, so I illustrated it appropriately using a magazine photo of sand dunes and drawing a moth, randomly chosen from my book of moths and butterflies. I've not decided yet what to do with the facing page, though I'll probably add more moths!

Saturday 5 July 2008

Migration of Frogs

light drizzle -
thousands of miniature toads
clamber through the grass.

We wandered round Arthur's Seat today and we saw thosands of tiny frogs and toads making their way away from Dunsapie Loch. This is apparently the second day that they have been coming out of the water to make their way to find swampy crevices to hide and grow up in. It was good to see that the Ranger Swervice had put up signs to warn people about the frogs and toads, had shut off traffic through the park and had covered up drains to prevent the young frogs and toads falling in them. Knowing that frog and toad species are in crisis across the world, it was particularly wonderful to see all these youngsters!

Frog Migration on Arthur's Seat (story on BBC website)
Year of the Frog (Amphibian Ark)