Monday, 27 June 2016

Spiders


As a boy I was always terrified of spiders, the smallest money spider in my room would have me searching for the nearest person to evict it whilst I hid far from it. As I grew I slowly became bolder catching them in glasses to release outside and having a study whilst it was safely contained. It wasn't until I began my apprenticeship at eighteen that I finally managed to truly begin to quash my fear though.


You have no choice really when in the garden, you’re going to come across them often in situations where freaking out is not an option. I've had big black hairy spiders wander across my hand while carrying rocks I'm unable to quickly put down, orb spiders hanging off my dreads after walking through a web and on more than one occasion daddy longlegs actually step on my open eye! These are the kind of encounters that either kill or cure and thankfully they cured. I have now developed a true appreciation of these incredible creatures and with the help of a macro lens come to see them physically in ways I could never have hoped to before. The intricacy of silks and web building, the variety of species and patterning of bodies and the awareness they have of their surroundings. I've always thought of them as simple automata behaving purely like organic machines with no real knowledge of what's happening around them but being down at their level with a camera and getting to watch them watch you, the turn of a head to keep you in their sights, the slight repositioning of the body to allow it a clear exit it needs be.


I love sharing the garden with all manner of wildlife but for me spiders hold a true fascination and will always draw my gaze for a few moments of study and respect. Without them the world would be very different and to have them adding their spirit to the garden certainly makes it a more magical space.



Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Grain


There sits in a garden a monolith of times gone by, a great heft of wood, stone and metal, a cider press now looming ever present over the white border. Ivy, bramble and thistle have all tried to reclaim it but nowt stand a chance on something so hardened by time. The wood is as tough as the stone, the stone as much a part of the garden as the very soil it’s bedded down in and the metal fused into place linking wood to stone to garden.
The deeply fissured timbers form a base for new life as lichen and moss colonise, blending the press into the garden and drawing the garden deep into its grain.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Time



When I worked in the city I was all for ornamental gardens and plants, even topiary on occasions. However now I have a garden that borrows a backdrop of wooden hillside and sprawling countryside this style of gardening no longer fits and therefore both myself and the garden now need to change our habits. For too long I worked but attempting to beat out the wild and unruly presence of nature and in its place crowbar in an entirely artificial creation of purely aesthetic design. In all truth there is never a better designer than nature, a hedgerow in spring is a delight to behold, a clump of foxgloves reclaiming a forest glade is a sight to behold and an abandoned quarry strewn with ferns a sight to make the even the best garden designer pack up their plans.
I now prefer to slowly rewild the garden, to allow nature a stronger control over what grows and where with just the right amount of selective planting and weeding going on. Looking to the countryside around me the years of cultivation are more than apparent, a landscape tamed by man and beast alike but with the wilds of before still keeping their presence heard.
On the wind blasted slopes of the peak district where sheep and rabbit join to crop the grass tight to the earth stately thistles stand tall and wild. The world around us looks good with a spot of rewilding.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Fragment



I can remember from the earliest age always having a fascination with collecting pieces of nature. Not just the usual pretty features and shiny we seaside pebbles but anything that seemed to me capture a moment in natural life. A snapshot of what nature can do. A fragment if you will of natures perfection.
I think a great deal of this fascination and desire came from my older brother who was already well into the collecting and had a room full of dead insects, birds nests, shells, pieces of driftwood, etc. The chance to actually have a fragment of nature in your hand to study at your leisure still excites me.
This photo is from my little clock shelf in my car and contains garden find from the last two years. Bird skulls, sheeps teeth, a mummified newt and a rodents jaw jostle with swallows eggshells, tiny feathers and micro pieces of intricate lichen.
Nature, stunning as a whole, fascinating as a fragment.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Strength


I’ve always admired oaks, as a child they were a joy to climb and you could always feel the history growing under your fingertips. To think that an acorn sprouting now may still be alive 900 years from now, how many hands and feet will it feel climbing through its branches in that time? Their strength stands out from any distance as soon as you see a mature oak in the landscape up can recognise it's shape and almost feel the bark tingling on your hands, the nearer one gets the greater the power and pure awesomeness of its life.
My desire for the end of my life is too buried with an oak planted on to of me so that my body can become part of something greater, something that stands not only in the landscape but also as part of it. It's roots reaching down deep, an organism of such magnitude that a mind as finite as ours can never truly grasp it's size. To stand at the base of an oak is to be embraced in its presence, is branches and roots stretching out far beyond us as we take our moments peace deep in the bosom of its strength.



Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Ramble


There used to be a field kept cropped by sheep. It seemed devour of variety and color until one day the sheep left and didn't return. The field began to go wild, plants that had for so long hunkered down from the ruminants teeth now lifted their heads and Bataan to grow.
Sometimes after a days dusty digging and being snagged by roses I like to go for a ramble through the field and let my mind unravel. Now I spot wildflower aplenty, tree seedlings sprouting and beginning to reclaim the earth for the bordering woodland, seedheads already preparing the next generation and a constant bustling buzz on the air out insects and the predators they encourage.
After a slow amble through the grasses, swishing the blades as I walk, listening to the soft murmuring breeze I turn to look back and see this path. A brief memory layed down in physical form to show the meanderings of my mind expressed through the tread of my feet. Happily I walk on knowing there's always time to ramble.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Stillness


Sometimes you have to search for the right capture sometimes it finds you. I had many ideas in my head when I first set the word "stillness" especially as I knew I had a day working the woods. Images of serene dappled woodland glades came to mind, perhaps a young leaf perfectly lit up by a ray of sunlight breaking through the canopy overhead. Sadly this was not to be. 

Walking down to the woods I came upon this poor bird and surely nothing captures stillness like the presence death brings with it. Working on the country and so arm in arm with nature you can't help but come across such moments but it's always a prompt for reflection. It's all to easy to become hardened to such occasions and in doing so forgetting the simple miracle that life is. Though this bird will never taste the air it will give life back to the garden as it slowly returns to the earth. Life to death to life, a moment of stillness caught in a fragile corpse and the gardener caught in a moment of stillnerss.