Thursday, 19 May 2016

Anatomy of a hedgerow



Of course, May is a month of cow parsley and fruit blossom, wild garlic and bluebells. But it's also a month where the hedgerows come into their own.


When I told you about Joe and I walking down the lane to preschool: well, there it is (in the top photograph). And today I took my camera so that on the way back up, I could take a closer look at the hedgerow which borders one side of it.


Right now the hedgerows are so dense and green. All those layers, from the moss-covered earth mound and gnarled old hawthorns which are, in a sense, the very backbone...


To the constant renewal of plant life. Leaves unfurling and ferns uncurling. 


The hawthorn blossom is only just opening in this part of the world.


There are tangled networks of brambles and purple tinges on leaves amongst the nettles.


Rosy new shoots appearing... 


A few surprises, such as currants, and rogue saplings. Honeysuckle too. And close to the ground, roots and miniature leaves and flowers. Rosettes and fronds, pebbles and moss.


And the lush verdancy that only May has. 


Yesterday we walked along in the fine drizzle. If anything, the hedgerows seemed even more lush and I think I actually preferred the damp.


Of course, the good thing about hedgerows is they have occasional gaps for you to peep through.


 So what does this particular hedge on this particular lane have to offer?


Hawthorn, nettles, buttercups, dandelions, holly, many varieties of grasses and mosses...


Herb Robert (which I just discovered is a member of the Geranium family), cleavers, brambles, beech, rosebay willow herb, ferns, dock...


And those saplings I mentioned: horse chestnut, ash, sycamore...


Alongside the old hawthorn branches are the odd man-made structure too. Decaying fence posts, rusting barbed wire.


The hedgerows tell a story. Form and function. Native plants and the odd impostor. Layers and layers, a green tapestry.


Often we'll drive past them, a blur on either side of the car which obscures our view of the landscape beyond. But just walk and explore.


I'm sure I must have looked a bit odd to those who passed me as I poked the camera into the twigs and branches. But that's the thing about taking photographs - you have to try and lose that feeling of self-consciousness. You are conducting important business: that of investigating and being curious.


I plan, perhaps when the new site is finished, to write about how I work. The printmaking process, from little field trips to inking and rolling. 


One part of that process is identifying plants. I love to consult books (I have many) which are illustrated with pictures of native plants, trees and flowers. They have to be illustrations, not photographs. And I learn names and habitats and all kinds of interesting facts.


I suppose that it's all about noticing what's around you. Walking past that hedgerow in the mornings is now part of our routine, but if you manage to slow down for ten minutes and look closely, you discover much about the seasons and what grows where.

And for the frazzled mind, a bit of green therapy.






30 comments:

  1. Oh it's wonderful out there at the moment isn't. A veritable green explosion. I walk past a lovely hedge on the school run in the morning which has a pretty sprinkling of hawthorn blossom in it, one of my favourites. This morning we walked on the other side of the hedge, and lo and behold there was masses of it. I was just thinking when I read your post, if I'd met you on your wander with your camera I would have come and joined in to see what there was to be seen. You've captured it all beautifully. CJ xx

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  2. I loved this. Could look at it all day.
    Cheers,
    Dana
    (@NieveandEstrellas)

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    1. Hi Dana, I was wondering if this was one of those slightly leftfield posts which wouldn't be of much interest to anyone else. So I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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  3. I always think about the Brambley Hedge books, all those little mice (wearing clothes!!!) dashing about in the hedge. Ooh I might get the books out. . . . . . Sarah

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    1. I think I may have read one or two of them many years ago. I do have a few children's books about little creatures who reside in hedgerows and have homes inside trees - they always look so cosy. 'The Wind in the Willows' springs to mind...

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  4. 5 Ladybird Lane - Yes! Brambly Hedge is perfect reading for this sort of curiosity in old hedgerows. My two boys love the stories but as they are my old books I'm a bit precious with them.

    Sarah - I know exactly what you mean about preferring some dampness in the air when taking a walk. Not always agreeable, but at this time of year, down a quiet country lane, there is something irresistible about it - the quietness and vividness of the colours (a similar sort of intensity as the muted sounds you get after the first deep snowfall of the winter….). Love your blog, love your photos, I'm a bit of a lurker as I don't often comment but just had to do it for this post as its just my cup of tea. Talking of which, I feel need to put the kettle on….

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    1. Hello, and it's nice to meet you! I'm pleased you liked this post. I usually just write updates of what we've been up to, but often I'm struck by inspiration when out walking and I can feel a post forming in my mind.
      Good job I don't mind the damp at thus time of year - it's almost June and yet again we have rain. Doesn't bode well for our trip to Skye in the morning!

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  5. Your noting of specifics helps me appreciate the whole in a new way. Thanks, Sarah. xx

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    1. I hope you get the opportunity to get out and do some up-close expoloring :) x

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  6. Lovely to follow you along the hedge, images stunning to. I can get lost for hours looking at flowers then reading about them.
    Lovely post.
    Amanda xx

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    1. Reference books are fascinating, aren't they? I particularly like finding names for things I see every day. The common, or nicknames, are so interesting too. x

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  7. I think I lost my earlier comment. Just wanted to say how gorgeous your photos are. I've been enjoying the hedgerows as well, they are absolutely stunning at the moment aren't they. I've been enjoying the hawthorn blossom on the school run. I love how the buds are perfect little round balls. You've really captured it all so very beautifully. CJ xx

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  8. It is only in our slowness that we can take the time to discover, unfold and reveal the layers of beauty not seen in the passing parade that normally makes our day. The slightest of turn can tell a completely different story. I love that you have taken the time to photograph and let us travel this journey with you

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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  9. It is amazing what is hidden behind the leaves in hedgerows. There is just so much wonder to discover and you have portrayed it beautifully x x

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  10. I'm a huge fan of hedges and this post was wonderful (found you through CJ). CT :-)

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    1. Thank you! It seems there are quite a few of us hedgerow enthusiasts around (and it's the perfect time of year to take a good look and appreciate them). Thanks for visiting :)

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  11. I've been admiring the hedgerows and verges here, too. It's such a verdant, lush time of year. Beautiful photographs, as always, and lovely words, Sarah. The hawthorn blossom is particularly lovely. Sam x

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    1. Thank you Sam. I'm looking forward to seeing what nature has to offer once we reach Skye (we even invested in a second camera!) x

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  12. Gorgeous greenery, doesn't it lift the spirits. Your hedgerows look wonderfully rich in variety. I do love ferns and moss, we have loads in the garden and even though I see them every day out of my kitchen window, I never grow tired of their patterns. The hawthorn is so pretty, but I hate the smell of the blossoms!!! As always wonderful photos. Have a happy weekend. Elaine x

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    1. Thanks Elaine! As for hawthorn, apparently you shouldn't bring it into the house as it's bad luck... x

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  13. What a wonderful daily walk and so amazing what there is to see when we stop and look. Thank you for sharing your beautiful hedge with us through your lovely photos and words.

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    1. That's fine! I'm glad you liked the post and pictures.

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  14. Replies
    1. Thank you. I find all things green very hard to resist, which is why I have so many photos filling up my hard drive! x

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  15. What a wonderful post Sarah. So much have I enjoyed it, you've inspired me to go and have a peep through the hedgerows along our lane. I do notice some things as I pass but not this level of detail. And I'm with you on the important business of investigating and being curious. Green therapy is the best. Bee xx

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    1. It is indeed! You can lose yourself in nature and all those little details... I find it's the best way to slow down and be present. x

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