26 Feb 2013

Heart's Delight

                                                         'Heart's Delight' Tulip

The three miniature tulips in a pot bought 
a week or two ago are beginning to flower.
From a pink and white closed bud
the first one opened
to reveal a golden centre -
a golden heart to delight the heart....

and each day has brought more delights.

25 Feb 2013

Ancient local farmhouses

The countryside we drove through last week was once the ancient seat of the Worrall family. There are several substantial dwellings sheltered by the crest of the hilltop and surrounded by other farm buildings. All the farmhouses have interesting historical features.

This farm has windows with stained glass panels in them and a chimney stack with emblems of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem because the property and land had once been owned by a local priory, The Priory of St. John of Jerusalem, dissolved in Tudor times, then owned by wealthy local nobility, patrons of the Worralls.

This house and farm was the former manorial home of one branch of the Worrall family. The open pediment over the front door and an ancient barn still containing four sets of oak cruck timbers indicate that it was an important dwelling. There are only one or two cruck barns in the area that have survived and this one is well-preserved.
Illus. Bob Warburton 

In a cruck building the weight is carried on pairs of timbers called cruck blades which rise from the
the ground base and meet at the apex of the roof.  The wood for the blades is selected from
naturally bent trees. The structure is strengthened by the cross beams.

It was an interesting experience to see these architectural features and learn about the history of this farming community in former times. 

22 Feb 2013

Out in the local countryside

Some of you will remember the guided group walk with a local historian on English Heritage Day last September to see some old farmhouses in our area.  I've been wanting to return that way, but the weather hasn't been suitable until this week.  Today we decided to take a drive there rather than go on a longer trip, as planned, because of the possibility of more snow storms.

It was not a day for walking the footpaths or lanes where there were patches of snow and ice.

There were diversions where some tracks over the heights were still icy.

We passed a complex of buildings, a former farm that is now rented out.  Our daughter once rented rooms there. It's a lovely place to live in the warmer months as there are wonderful views across to the reservoir. However, one day when she was driving to work in snowy weather she skidded down a hill and ended up in a field.  It could have been worse as she could have crashed into a stone wall.  She eventually moved nearer to the city.

However, there are one or two working farms in the area as well as a few other isolated cottages.

It's not surprising that many of the larger farmhouses have high, solid wall to counteract the bitter winds during the cold months of the year.

This is the inside of the courtyard which we were privileged to enter when we went on our tour.

I'm looking forward to another walk in this beautiful area on a warmer day than today. There are many interesting historical features associated with these farms that we were told about on our group walk which I will write about another time.

21 Feb 2013

Winter's treasures in a tranquil garden


Thursday morning:  a visit to another
city botanical garden was a good place to be.
It was misty with grey skies,
but every corner of the garden
revealed nature's treasures.


There were different varieties of  the miniature iris
with lavender or pale blue and yellow speckled petals
(iris unguicularis, the Algerian iris)
growing in the rock and water garden,
cyclamens and snowdrops.

Little gems of colour
to brighten up the day.

19 Feb 2013

The Walled Garden in February

Today I visited the library in the park
on a very different day from the recent snowy one
  and then went into the walled garden.

In the main area by the pond the sun had melted the frost.

The bees were flitting about in the sunshine,
but in other shadowy areas frost still lingered.

The gardeners and volunteers had been busy
clearing the area, pruning and cleaning
the greenhouses and preparing the ground
in the community garden.
Everywhere looked neat and tidy.

Beyond the walled garden there is a shelter
of living willow trees.

This is what it looks like in the Summer months.

The herbaceous border will be planted out
and will be looking colourful later in the year.
The pond in the wild garden had been 
cleaned out.  As usual there were
many birds and as another photographer
was taking photos
 it was good to stop for a chat
and compare notes.