My ‘induction’ to the phytology site was a few Saturday’s ago now and this week is my first week of residency. Looking back at my notes before I cycle over to the site, these are the things that speak to me:
The soil is contaminated with lead and petroleum because of the fly-tipping that happened here after the church – St Judes – was bombed in 1942, and before the fence surrounding the ground was erected. The fence was put up in the 1980’s by the Environmental Trust. It’s rumoured that someone from the Trust helpfully transported some newts into the pond so that they could proliferate and make the site worthy of protection.
Completely new soil was brought in to plant the meadow.
The remains of St Judes have shaped the earth into a lumpy and bumpy terrain. This provides unusual microclimates – not usually found in flat ground. Last year, because of this unexpected adaptation, Bumble Bees were able to nest there.
Ground Ivy with its bright purple flowers likes to grow in stone. It’s been growing in the church remains.
On the land in spring this year there was Cow Parsley, Violets, a host of bulbs, Garlic Mustard and Wild Garlic. The plants here have been self-seeded by birds as well as planted. In the meadow there are 30 or so varieties of plants. “Weeds that we like and weeds that we don’t like.”
Some new plants will be added: Wild Thyme, Marjoram, Melissa (lemonbalm)
Yarrow – named ‘Mille Achilles’ – meaning ‘One Thousand Leaves’, (and also in memory of Achilles because it was said that Achilles gave his soldiers yarrow to stuff in their wounds to staunch the bleeding so that they could carry go on fighting).
So yarrow stops the flow of blood in wounds….
…But it is also a love potion…. (you put it up your nose and in your underwear!).
“When X talks about sheep he’s really talking about the weather.”
Yesterday felt like a preface to autumn, today the sun is cutting through the scattered clouds, holding us in summer.