This Monday will be the longest day of the year, the midsummer solstice, when the UK gets almost 17 hours of daylight. Earlier this week I was driving west on the A303, and just after the ‘solstice’ service station, Stonehenge appears by the roadside. I like this, and I don’t like it. One on hand it’s nice to see the old stones as you drive by, but also it seems irreverent to the landscape that such a big, noisy road cuts through the site.
I was driving back from Knepp, where we filmed part 10 of Wood for the Trees, our series about UK forests. Knepp is a ‘rewilding’ site, and runs wildland safaris, where you can see how the biodiversity on this land has increased since they stopped farming intensively. Everyone goes on about the amazing white storks on the site, and yes they are amazing:
…but I was also thrilled to spot the elusive scarlet pimpernel.
To rewild the site, the owners fenced the perimeter of their enormous estate, and introduced herds of wild boar, long-horned cattle and deer, which are free to roam around the site. The owners produce a small quantity of high quality meat from these animals, and this along with the camping and site tours has been more financially successful than the previous efforts at farming. The land is ‘marginal’ and was always difficult to farm, and it’s possible that as agricultural subsidies change, more UK farmers will find that rewilding and regenerative farming is the more financially viable option for land that doesn’t easily grow crops. However – this is controversial. Rewilding a landscape leads to ‘scrub’ as hedgerows expand and brambles take over the fields, and this is not a landscape people like to see, traditionally it’s seen as ‘unkempt’ and wasteful. Perhaps as more of us begin to appreciate biodiversity we’ll see more of the attractive features of scrubland and untidy farms.
Speaking of unkempt land, here’s some snaps from the garden for this week’s six on saturday.
- The wildflower meadow after the rainstorm. It’s looking pretty battered, specially the ox-eye daisies, but I’m hopeful it will have perked up again in a few days.
2. The roses after the rain: Easy come, easy go, and most of these lovely roses are gone. It’ll be fine after a bit of a tidy up and there are still plenty of buds to come on this lovely rosebush.
3. Roses in a vase! I’m thankful that I’d picked a few garden blooms for a vase. At this time of year there’s a lot to choose from, and this bunch includes a few roses, peony, alstroemeria, as well as honeysuckle and pinks. The scent is spectacular.
4. Wild roses: At Knepp, the scent from the wild roses was simply stunning. Taking in the scent of the wild roses as I listened to a turtle dove and nightingale singing was a very special moment that I’ll remember for a long while. The few we have in our garden are just as lovely, but not quite so abundant.
5. My fifth highlight of the week is this little basket of sweet william, which sits by the front door. I love this plant and it’s strong scent and cheery blooms. I picked this up at the ‘mystery plant fair’ at the Mells Walled Garden back in April, and it’s doing very well.
6. My final selection for this week will have to be a quick pond update. The water lily which had 2.5 leaves when we bought it has begun to settle in to the pond, and I’m hoping for a flower or two this year. We’ve not seen Mr Frog for the past few days and I’m assuming he’s found somewhere nice to live and ignoring the possibility he got eaten by one of the neighbourhood predators, such as our cat.
That’s it from me for this week, see more garden selections for Six on Saturday at the Propagator’s blog.