Wordless Wednesday: January’s Jewels

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If you go down the woods today……

Waresly and Gransden Woods is a deciduous wood that is situated in South Cambridgeshire, not to far from where I live and is managed by the ‘Wildlife Trust’.

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Even though I have lived in and around this area all my life, I had never visited these woods before, not until the summer of 2013.

Ever since my childhood I have always loved going into the woods. Although most of the woods I visited in my childhood, were ones I shouldn’t have been in. I spent many happy days dodging farmers trying to get to a wood and then hiding from them when I got there. I always treated the woods with respect though, even as a child.

These woods you are allowed to visit as long as you keep to the paths and treat the area with respect. So if you do live in this part of the world, it’s a place I do recommend you visit and it has a handy car park as well.

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Picture apr2011 2510 …….Between the car park and the wood is an area called ‘Browne’s Piece’. Originally cleared for agricultural use, this area has been brought by the Wildlife Trust and is being encouraged to regenerate by natural process.

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To keep myself out of any mischief, I brought along with me my youngest daughter Enya and our mad little terrier…. Trixie. Trixie is basically Enya’s shadow, they have grown up together and if given the chance, would go absolutely everywhere together.

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……..It was the early part of August 2013 when we went to these woods and even though it was overcast, it didn’t seem to affect the light levels inside the woods.

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Now within my family I am very famous for getting lost in woods,  Enya did remind me of this so to avoid any argument, I let Enya and Trixie lead the way. By the way, we did always keep to the path.

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………The deeper we went into the woods, I was constantly stopping to take pictures, much to Enya’s annoyance.

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Now that’s not Trixie’s paw print….. much too large!

I always had this feeling we were not alone in these woods. Even though we saw no one or thing but I certainly heard things in the distance and kept catching glimpse of something in the corner of my eye.

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……..What seemed to be the centre of the woods, we came across a wooden bridge across at the time…. a dry ditch.

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……..A couple of fallen trees, one obviously a lot more recent than the other.

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…….Ah, time for a sit down. When you have a eleven year old with you and a little Terrier, this means as soon as your arse touches the bench you have to move again…. no patience.

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……..Before we knew it, we had found the far edge of the wood. With more beautiful views across fields, we decided it was time to head back, letting Enya and Trixie lead the way of course….. or we would of of never found our way back.

This was one of many paths we could of taken and this year we will head back and see where the others take us.

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…….There was one thing I could not shake off and that was the constant feeling that we was always being followed…. but I’m sure this was just my over active imagination!

Wordless Wednesday: Happy Bees

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The Dark Veiled Garden

Enter a garden where all is dark and foreboding. Imagine a garden that is always overcast, raining (just like real life then), cold and uninviting…… for some anyway.

I must admit, I did find it hard not to turn this into a full ‘Rock Garden’ type blog, saying that….. you will find a few music videos along the way. The idea had been given to me by my wife, after she had found several photos of black coloured flowers, put on Twitter by the Lovely Kat Von D. At first, I thought this was the perfect idea for another ‘Rock Garden’ blog but instead, I have mixed it up a bit and not added a rock video after every plant; although I have kept to a similar concept I have used before.

I have started with a few plants that have dark/black flowers then in another section, have moved onto plants that are: poisonous, sting, smell horrible and ones that even eat small animals or insects. Put all these together in one place (along with the odd creepy crawlies) and you begin to have the makings of a ‘Dark Veiled Garden’.

“Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.” Terry Pratchett.

Black Devil Pansy

A beautiful supposedly true black flower with a yellow centre. This is a hardy biennial that can grow in sun or partial shade.  There are many black flowered varieties out there on the market and the one I’m more familiar with is Viola ‘Blackjack’.

According to folklore, if you pick a black Viola on a sunny day, it is thought to bring a storm but if picked before the dew dries on its petals, it foretells the death of a loved one….. oh bugger!

Alcea rosea var. nigra ‘Black Knight’

Ah, the beautiful Hollyhock. Another one of my favourites, this Hollyhock can grow between 4-6ft and is another great biennial for any garden. It flowers July – September and the birds and the bees love it.

Used in the olden days to help cure horses’ swollen heels, originally known as ‘Hockleaf’.

With a plant called ‘Black Knight’, I had to include this song into the blog. From the ‘Ancient’ old rockers themselves, who have a combined age of 480 years……. Deep Purple.

Zantedeschia ‘Schwarzwalder’ (Black Calla Lily)

PHWOAR!! Sorry (not professional). This is one hell of a cracking Calla Lily (Arum Lily), this one is a bit of rarity as well.  Not just rare but a bit of a wimp as well, good patio plant, needs to be brought inside before any frosts.

In some parts of the Middle East, it is believed to keep away ill health but if you are to deliberately break it, you will die a death of fear full agony…. careful!

Cordyline ‘Black Magic’

Beautiful jet black and glossy foliage plant that can grow to approximately 2m in height. Its from Australia so it’s a bit of a wimp (yep, I’m still smarting over the Ashes), so again not overly hardy.

In Singapore, this is not grown in peoples home gardens, as it is known as a ‘graveyard’ plant and growing it in your garden would attract bad luck.

I had to include this famous classic by Santana, who is probably nearly as old as Deep Purple, I don’t mean as their combined age….. that’s just being too rude!

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Now the last lot of plants may have had black/nearly black flowers but none of them were dangerous in any way, in fact some were to tame. So I will add a few dangers into the garden….. starting with a very non wimp plant from Australia.

Dendrocnide moroides (Stinging Tree)

The ‘Stinging Tree’ or ‘Mullberry Leafed Stinger’ as it is often known, this is a large shrub native to North East Australia. Growing up to 3m in height, it has stinging hairs all over the plant that can deliver a potent neurotoxin when it is touched. It has an extremely painful sting that can last several months, this has also been known to kill!

Actaea pachyoda (White Baneberry)

An herbaceous perennial that can grow to approximately 2ft tall, the berries ripen over the summer and the plant is often known as ‘Dolls Eyes’. All parts of the plant are poisonous containing cardiogenic toxins causing heart attacks and death! Native to North America.

Abrus precatorius (Rosary peas)

Commonly known as ‘Crab Eyes’, the plants seeds contains a toxin very similar to ricin called’Abrin’. Just one seed can kill a human after a few days of being sick. A perennial climber native to Indonesia.

Menispermum canadense

Another perennial climber this time from North America. The Moonseed as it is also commonly known can grow to over 6m in height. All parts are poisonous but eating the seeds can be fatal!

Cnidoscolus stimulus (Bull Nettle)

A member of the Spurge family that is native to the south east part of North America. This plant contains a nasty punch from above the ground but the roots are very edible. It contains stinging hairs all over the plant including on the flowers and gives a nasty sting to all that touch it but the roots taste like pasta…. mmmmm!

Nepenthes attenboroughii (Giant Pitcher Plant)

Famously named after Sir David Attenborough, this pitcher is large enough to capture rats as well as insects. This one is native to Central Philippines and can grow to 1.5m in height.

Amorphophallus titanum (Carrion Flower)

This will bring a wonderful scent to the garden…. that’s if you like the smell of rotting flesh. Grows in Western Sumatra where it can reach 3m in height.

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And to give the garden a further edge, here’s a few creepy crawlies to give it that little extra…………….

Goliath Bird Eating Spider

Black Scorpion 

Large Black Wasps

Large Black Centipede

Don’t forget your gardening gloves!!

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Just to finish off with, is a great song by a band called Cynic (UK). Formed in 1979 from the NWOBHM era, this song is from the their album ‘Suburban Crisis’. I did try and find a plant with the same name but couldn’t…… but I’m putting it in anyway!

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Wordless Wednesday: Tranquil Waters

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A Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year to all the readers of ‘the tattooed gardener’. Hope everyone has a great 2014 🙂