A new European law says everyone who has an internet site should make it clear how they use personal information. This includes cookies.
Because this is a blog-spot blog, Google controls all information and cookies etc. - hence the annoying notice which comes up at the top of the page every time you arrive here. We are ourselves obliged to contact people who have left personal data. I thought this meant I would need to email everyone who has signed up to have posts sent directly or who have become 'followers' but I don't seem to have access to your addresses - only Google or whoever runs the gadgets have that.
As for those who leave comments, the only access I have to your information is what you put in the profiles which you, yourselves, make publicly accessible.
I do, of course, have the email addresses of those of you who have emailed me directly. If you would like your addresses removed from my contact list I can do that if you let me know.But turning it round the other way, perhaps it would be sensible to take this opportunity to say 'please
do become followers' and 'please do sign up for posts to be sent directly to your inbox' - secure in the knowledge that I do not have access to your details so I won't be turning up on your doorstep brandishing bunches of wild flowers or sending you junk mail or putting cookies on your websites to see what you are up to when you are not here.
I think that covers things!
After a while, I will move this message to a less irritating place on the page but I think it has to stay somewhere.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

AN OUTDATED STREET PLANT POST (Should have been posted at the end of April.)

I'm horribly disorganised. When I first wrote this post at the end of April, we were well launched into the first dandelion season of the year. It was freezing cold but there were dandelions everywhere. I need not have worried that I'd miss them when I left Dorset. Not only were they unmissable but in some places nature had arranged them so beautifully it was as if they had been flower-arranged.

There's a surprising amount of countryside in this very built-up Halifax. Even outside the wooded ravines which cut into the town there are reminders of what happens when a tree falls. This fungus is growing on a the remains of a lopped trunk in a car park.

And earlier in the day I'd came across violets on a small patch of earth outside an abandoned house.

Then there are walls. Non-stop walls. Dry stone walls around almost everything: gardens, fields, industrial premises. These are wonderful places for plants to dig their roots into - and I've been surprised how little the walls seem to crumble under such invasion. Of course, I should have put a photographic illustration of this here but I didn't. All a bit of a rush! And since then I've been busy doing the usual excuse type things like digging acres of mare's tail out of my allotment. But the point I was heading to at the time was that not even the flat fronts of buildings can deter a determined fern.

And drains. In Dorset I grew a habit of looking down drains to see what's growing there. Drains rarely disappoint. They are a bit like the shells hermit crabs grab. They look pretty similar on the outside but you never know who or what's lurking inside till you look.

And trees. No urban garden would be complete without trees. I think this is the most spectacular I've come across. Can it be a silver birch?

Sorry for the delay. Someone found my glasses for me. They are gold rimmed which makes them extra difficult to find unless I am already wearing them. But anyone else can lift them up and say 'These?' But other things have been getting between me and Loose and Leafy posts too. Like a plasterer putting up an acoustic wall, local elections in Halifax and civil unrest in Armenia.

We all have backstories!

P.S. I really do recommend that you read about Hermit Crabs.

Friday, 20 April 2018


Large green leaves with prickles in car park.
Messed up again! If it's not one thing it's another. I could give you a list but just at this moment it's that I've lost my glasses. As you know, I'm sharing a house with fellow blogger Esther Montgomery. And one of her sons decided to clean out under the floorboards of his room. The house was built in 1885 and a lot of dust has drifted down there since so when I was offered the honour of lifting a board and it pinged up all of a sudden, a lot of that dust pinged up with it. Then, when I went to wash it off my face I took my glasses off and now, er, I don't know where they are.

So, nose to screen, here's a picture of a plant I photographed earlier today. I don't know what it is. Could it be in the teasle family? More will follow when I can see!

Then, when it's a proper street plant post, I'll put a box here in case you want to add your link to a street plant post too.

Sunday, 15 April 2018


Catkins of an alder in front of a stone building in the golden light of evening.
Evening is unpredictable. One moment it's sunny, then it's gold, then it's dull, then it gives gold another innings, then it's duller and duller till it's dark. And I, it seems, never manage to get to the tree I'm following during its sunny moments. Dull is standard. Gold a bonus.

Here is a view towards the building where, one day, when it isn't after hours, or dull, or raining, I'll see if anyone will let me up to look down on the tree.

Alder with catkins, with plastic in branches, in front of a fancy street light.

Much depends on which direction one faces. Two minutes apart, looking another way, noticing the plastic which has been there since the beginning.

An ant on the bark of an alder tree.

No leaves, loads of catkins - and a moderate flow of ants. Ants are hard to capture crisply in fading light but there is one there if you peer.

Bent railings on the guard around an alder tree.

I am captivated by the railings around the tree. I'm as much railings watching as tree following for they seem to contain as much life as the tree itself.

Someone has bent them so two prongs lean towards each other.

(A friend said 'here, I'll take a photo - so he did - and this is it.)

Glasses hanging on the railings of the guard around an alder tree in Halifax.

The 'Lost and Found' function continues with a pair of glasses.

(I'm beginning to think this tree is pivotal.)

Small green plant at the foot of an alder tree with fallen catkins around.

In November there were little leaves at the base of the tree. They've gone. If we hadn't had snow, maybe they would have still been there. I don't know. But instead, at its foot - here come the plants! Green-ness! Flowers ahead! (As long as the council leaves them.)

P.S. While I was photographing the tree, people were arriving from two directions, hurrying happily into the theatre opposite. What was on? Clearly a big event. So I peered between the posters of future events stuck to the window of the box office . . . but they turned out not to be stuck on the window itself but to clear stands within . .  which meant I smashed my eyebrows, nose and forehead wham against the glass. Not good.

Having failed to find the answer written up I asked a woman waiting for a friend on the steps. But she couldn't remember what she'd come to see. Evening does funny things to people.

For more about Tree Following go to Squirrelbasket and you can become a Tree Follower too.

Saturday, 31 March 2018


Stong groundsel plant beside a stone wall.
This is a picture post. There's not much to read. If I had lots to say, I'd say it. But today, I don't. I'll let the plants speak for themselves. Or, rather, not speak for themselves for they are pretty quiet at present; battered by frost and snow, constantly being deceived into thinking it's spring when it isn't.

The exception is this groundsel which seems pretty chipper. I've never described anything as 'chipper' before but the word seems to fit. The angle shields it both from north and east winds and for the moment it's not garlanded with litter.

Ferns in a stone wall.
For the most part though, I look higher up walls to find plants. I've never lived anywhere with so many stone walls before. All seem to be built in the same way; two walls built parallel to each other and the gap between them filled with smaller stones. On top of these is a layer of long stones laid horizontally, with a row of quite hefty, sideways stones on top. The work which must have gone into these walls must have been phenomenal. The tonnage, mind boggling. And because of the topography here, some are waist or shoulder high on one side but way, way higher on the other.

Dandelion growing in the gap between stones on a stone wall.

Here are dandelion seedlings beginning to look out newly on the world.

Foxglove in the gaps between stones on a stone wall.

And foxgloves which have overwintered are beginning to green.

This is common but I can't name it.

A dilapidated ivy leaved toadflax would you say?

And the always-interesting shape of an unfurled willow-herb seed pod.

All these plants were photographed on 30th March, ready for the first of the month posting. Daft. So I'm moving the street plant posts to 20th of each month. I'll put a link box then too - and afterwards always on the 20th.

In the meantime, if you have a street plant post that you'd like us to know about, do put its URL in the box below.

(The site which provides the link box seems to have gone down . . . and the link box has vanished along with it. By the time I next look, hopefully it will have reappeared. In the meantime . . . . if you have a Street Plant Post to share - leave its URL in with the comments.)

Monday, 26 March 2018


Daffodil coming up.
My daffodils are this big.
Everyone is ahead of me on our allotment. For the most part it's because they've had their plots for longer. But the new tenants of the one next to mine seem to have got it cleared up and dug over in one invisible burst. I suspect they had a truck to take the rubbish away and either a team of enthusiastic diggers or a rotivator. Perhaps my assiduity in getting out unwanted plants is paying its price in relation to how much time is available before seeds etc. will need to be sown. Perhaps I'm being excessive. On the other hand, it seems right to get rid of mares tail / horse tail or whatever it's called, along with the mile deep tap-roots of dandelions before putting in fruit bushes. Several weeks with several snowy days in them, interspersed with days when I was doing something else or having a bug or . . . The question is . .  am I being long term sensible or too slow for growing's good? For the moment I'll look long term and say this slow start will, in the end, be worth it.

Newly planted blackcurrant with leaves appearing.
Blackcurrant waiting for secateurs to prune it.
Some things are on the allotment . . . other things are at home.
But there are some things I've clearly done wrong. I woke in the night wondering about the difference between different kinds of currant bushes. I was sure some had to be planted one way and others another. I'd thought the difference was between redcurrants and whitecurrants but (exciting life this!) what if blackcurrants were somehow involved? Abandon sleep. Read lots of articles which just say plant them now with a load of the well rotted farmyard manure which I don't have and can't afford - but nothing about depth. Then I find it. The difference isn't between red and white but between black and red. (I don't have any white ones yet.) Blackcurrants should be planted deep enough that extra shoots come up while redcurrants need to have a single little trunk to branch out from. Guess which I've already planted? Blackcurrants. So, in the night, in my semi-awake semi-asleep-ness I dig them up in my dreams, dig bigger holes, plant them deeper. Over and over I go through the whole thing. It's not going to be a problem. The soil is lovely and even and weed free (hurray!) so my mind should have been able to give it a rest. But it wouldn't. Now all I have to do is to go and replant them for real and to free my mind from the guilt of not giving them the kind of food and texture they crave and asking them to make do with chicken pellets instead. I need a word for anthropomorphising plants.

I also need a special word of thanks to photographs - even if they do reveal mistakes. The instructions which came with the bare-rooted raspberry canes said to soak them in a bucket of water for an hour then plant them at the same soil level they had been planted at before. But after their allotted hour of soaking any vestiges of previous soil level had washed away. Resort to an internet video where Monty Don swishes his little roots around. But I didn't have shallow roots. I had what seemed to be the continuation of the stem with roots sticking out of it. His big roots go sideways. Mine head for Australia. So I stuck them in about twelve inches and hoped for the best. Or maybe it was a bit more.

Newly planted raspberry cane with shoots at base.
It's not just the hairiness of the lower stem which becomes apparent in the photograph
but a difference in colour too.
And as for the use of photographs? I took this one for the sake of the leaves that are appearing beside the cane. "Should they be here or are they suckers to be removed?" I was going to ask. But while preparing the picture for the blog I see there are loads of fine roots above soil level; roots I didn't see when I planted the canes. So perhaps I should have dug the raspberries in even deeper after all - just as I should have made the blackcurrants go in further.

From now on I shall photograph everything in stages so the lens will capture what my eyes have missed.

As for other things:
Little shallot.

The shallots I thought had rotted haven't. I could have photographed a much more impressive example but I was in a hurry so I just snapped the nearest one. (Bloggers are meant to be thoughtful, not hurried but . . . )

Ornamental onion.
It's not a tulip, it's an onion. (Or garlic.)

And the ornamental onions or garlic or whatever they are (call them Alliums) that I thought were nearly all dug up by badgers but which fellow allotmenteers said must have been foxes . . . have come up in profusion as well.

In part, I planted them because I wanted to make something grow and all the seeds I sowed in the autumn got eaten almost as soon as they germinated and in part because the packet said they would attract butterflies. Why I would want to attract butterflies is beyond me as they will lead to caterpillars which will probably eat all my vegetables . .  but there we are. I bought them and put them in. And as for depth of planting? There were five varieties in the packet, all to be planted at different levels. But the bulbs were jumbled together in one bag and there was no way of knowing which were which. So the bigger the bulb, the deeper I planted it. Totally hit and miss but quite a variety of leaf shapes have come up so even if there are no blackcurrants or redcurrants until next year - or perhaps never - we should have some pretty onion flowers to look at!

Caterpillar with broom coloured bristles. Possibly Ruby Tiger Moth.
Quite hefty. A bit more than an inch long.
(When measuring caterpillars, does one include the bristles?)
Speaking of caterpillars . . . I found this one wandering along one of my packed earth paths. Despite it being the boring colour of an old broom I think it might be a Ruby Tiger Moth - especially as a description on the Wildlife Insight site says 'They are often come across wandering about during the day prior to pupating'. It was wandering. Clinch. And wandering beside the patch which was a mono-culture of narrow-leaved plantain until I pulled it all out. Double clinch.

Caterpillar with auburn coloured bristles. Possibly Ruby Tiger Moth.
This caterpillar was a rich auburn in colour but I'm assuming
it's the same variety as the day before.
The difference may be an advert for sunshine - or suggest it's a different variety.
The next day (25th March) it was sunny. (Frosty but sunny.) And I found another at the opposite end of the allotment; again wandering along a path. For a bit of variety I moved it to a mossy stone so it could pose for its picture against a pretty (but irrelevant) background. It wasn't struck on this and curled up. I came and went for a bit, waiting for it to uncurl and walk along but it didn't . .  Until when I wasn't looking when it must have pottered off looking for some plantain or another path. Right. Here comes a decision. Don't get rid of all the plantain. Maybe I should have a dedicated ribwort patch? After all, the previous gardener seems to have had several. Moths which are, non-scientifically speaking, butterflies which can't stick their wings up straight to shut them higher than their heads (sort of) are undervalued. I've not seen any packs of seeds or bulbs specifically advertised as promising the arrival of moths.

And at the end of the day . . . In spring, in Dorset, (my constant contrast) the noise of blackbirds singing at dawn is almost overwhelming. But here, where a pigeon on a pavement is the height of avian excitement . . . here, in a town, I sat and listened to one, solitary bird, piping after the sun had gone down. (My camera dissobligingly decided to make it look lighter than it was.) To hear all the birds in a wide neighbourhood yelling their heads off fills one with awe. But this is the first time I've literally sat down and listened to one individual. See - there are gentle joys in urban living after all.

How to grow blackcurrants and redcurrants on the Quick Crop blog.
How to grow summer fruiting raspberries - video on Gardener's World site. (Incidentally, mine are supposed to grow two crops a year if you prune them right.)
Country Life's Guide to Hairy Caterpillars.

ESPECIALLY - it seems to me that this blackbird has a very monotonous song. Do birds in areas where there are more birds develop more complicated songs?