Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Jubilee Woods

Not the best start to the day -woke up crying after a disturbing dream which pretty much messed up my morning, so to cheer myself up I decided to take myself off for a walk somewhere.  The good thing about Loughborough is that you can drive for 5 minutes and be in a field, or in this case a wood.  Jubilee Wood has a couple of walks and I took the Red Walk (1 hr).  I'd never been there before but it was all signposted and a really lovely place to be on a breezy end-of-summer day.  It will be spectacular in winter, when all the branches are stiff and bare with frost.

It's not a huge wood, about 10 hectares (25 acres), but a lot of it is native Oak, which just happens to be my favourite tree, so this is my ideal walk really :)  I love everything about oaks, I love their age, their strength, the thick rough grooves of the bark, the way their branches always resemble lightening forking skywards, and how good they are to climb.  They are very solid reliable trees, but also very dramatic.

Of course it's at this time of year that most of the fruits and berries are ripening.  I came across some elderberries, and the last of the blackberries, which are almost all ripe by now. 

This fine looking plant below I'd never seen before, but a passing walker informed me that is was the Rosebay Willowherb.  It grows in recently cleared areas and wasteland, has some traditional medicinal properties and many people consider it a weed, but, not willing to take the thing on face value, I decided I like it!  If I'm going to have weeds grow in my wasteland, they should all be as pretty as these.

I'm being forced to reconsider weeds a lot this week, since I've been trying to sort out the garden.  For some reason I really want to grow things but before I can do that I have to tidy it up, and most of it is weeds, or rather 'Plants that Grow in Annoying Places' which is all a weed is.  I've been pulling down ivy, which I like generally but it runs riot and it was blocking the sun from the smaller plants and stifling them.  A lot of it was dead.  Also I've been digging up brambles, since ours is small and weedy, with no blackberries, and I know if I let it stay it'll grow crazy fast and get out of control like the bush I had to battle with in my last house.  We now have a pretty impressive heap we're hoping to compost.

And finally, we have dandelions. 
Oh sweet dandelions, how I hate you, you WILL INSIST on growing through the patio slabs because you KNOW I can't fork you out from there.  I'm currently trying to kill ours with a mixture of boiled vinegar and salt, since I don't want to pour chemicals on the garden if I can possibly help it.

But now I'm wondering, because I passed a full-grown dandelion plant while I was walking, about a metre high, and actually I don't know why it's a weed.  Yes it's hard to get rid of, it's annoying, the leaves are ugly and you get syrup on your hands when you pull them up, but the flowers themselves are very beautiful.  They are thick with petals, a lovely sunny yellow, and they smell amazing, nicer than a lot of store-bought flowers.  You can use them in medicene, making drinks, salads, and cordials, and they look very pretty when you have a bunch of them altogether.
So why is it a weed, just because it likes to grow in inconvenient places?

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