Ancient trees and the Spanish Armada

One of the loveliest things about visiting Croft Castle in Herefordshire is to see the many ancient trees planted there. Majestic chestnuts and oaks some going back hundreds of years.

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A story tells that sweet chestnuts were taken from captured Spanish ships and planted at Croft between 1580 and 1680. The avenue is said to represent the formal battle plan of the Spanish Armada with rows of chestnuts representing the Spanish ships and oaks the English. This was the original formal approach to the castle.

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autumnal colour

Ailsa is looking for intensity this week so what about this apple orchard inside the walled garden at Berrington Hall? There was a lot of vibrant colour there this week: the fiery reds and sulphuric yellows were in competition.

I’m delighted to see so much colour around at this time of year. I shall soak it in to get me through the grey days of the coming winter.

little things in life

A fellow blogger and friend has been posting some images of spring in Australia including close-ups of moss starting to sprout. It prompted me to take my new macro lens down to the river where I knew moss grows abound and where I had seen some tiny fungi growing just the other day. Unfortunately it was quite dark by the river (it is flanked by a high cliff and trees on the one side) and moss isn’t as attractive in its latter stages, but I did find the fungi and a few interesting little things to photo. They are not the sharpest of images, but as I have mentioned over on the flower blog where you will find more macro images, I am happy to record my journey with the new camera with the hope that as time goes on I will improve!

We will start with this quite small leaf covered with tiny hairs on which there were beads of moisture – from the early morning fog I imagine.

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Next a look at some fungi – note that the puff ball ones are actually very, very small, probably the size of the nail on my little finger.

Then some moss – again with the droplets – ferns and a couple of flowers. I had not realised until now how much the spores on a fern look like tiny eggs.

And finally one insect (there was a spider too but the quality of that shot is far too embarrassing to post here) a bright red-brown fly. If you click on him to enlarge the image you will see the hairs on his back.

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Field of Gold

Field of bright yellow rapeseed in flower (canola) under a blue sky near Ludlow, Shropshire. Rapeseed is grown for the production of animal feed, vegetable oil for human consumption, and biodiesel.

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Field of golden sun
A dazzling azure blue sky
Heat up the summer

The last time I saw this golden field was four years ago in 2011. A good example of crop rotation. Growing above head height I had to hold the camera above my head to get some of these shots. And the pollen causes my eyes to water and my nose to sneeze. I think it was worth it.

Beautiful Patches

A while ago I posted a photo of lichens. The yolk-yellow ones Caloplaca marina you find at the coast on rocks and walls and roofs of houses. My camera was drawn to the patterns and the textures and the way that no two are identical. I then noticed other lichens including the grey/olive-green ones growing on the sides of trees (which tell you that this is north-facing – as they prefer darker conditions, although if you live in the southern hemisphere this would be south-facing, and if you are in a rain-forest it won’t make any difference… OK, enough, I’ll let you find out about them yourselves if you are interested and it is probably safer to carry a compass than to rely on lichens in a forest if you get lost)

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Lichen foliose and fruticose

Suffice to say that lichens are living organisms and there are several types. The yolk-yellow crusty ones are crustose, and some are crustose placodioid as the pattern spreads out from the centre like those blue-grey ones; those on trees tend to be foliose or fruticose, the latter being like a mini shrub. And then you get the dusty powder sort that you find on rocks which is called leprose lichen.

Apparently there are 20,000 known species of lichens. Fascinating!