Thursday, April 29, 2021

A Year In Penrith Flora

Penrith, Cumbria, UK. March 2020 to March-2021.

It was only meant to be a long weekend but Covid intervened.

We bought our house in Penrith as a second home to enjoy the pleasures of the North Lakes over the winter and let out as an AirBnB over the summer while we were in Italy. We were staying in a cottage near Hadrian's Wall with friends for a long weekend of walking as the Covid epidemic was rapidly unfolding. 

It was apparent that a lockdown was looming and so we decided not to return to crowed London but instead stay in Penrith notwithstanding that it was still something of a building site. The kitchen carcasses were in but not much else. Our kitchen fitter worked late on the eve of lockdown to install the worktop, the dishwasher, sink and hob. We could live without cupboard doors.

We followed the stay-home guidelines and only went out of the house once a week for shopping and daily for our exercise. As a city boy with little interest in nature even I could not fail to notice the changing flowers with the passing seasons. 

Warning: all species identification tentative!

March 2020 - Penrith Beacon. Many of our walks were straight up Fell Lane to the local landmark and a circuit of the woodland that surrounds it. Doing the same circuit over the 12 months really brought home how each flower has its own time slot.

April 2020 - There are many delightful sunken paths.

April 2020 - Spring started with enthusiastic shrubs - Wild Cherry...

April 2020 - ... and Japanese Quince.

May 2020 - next up, Bluebells.

May 2020 - a switch from blue to pink: Campion.

May 2020 - and then to white: Wild Garlic.

May 2020 - my favourite type of woodland is mixed broadleaf trees with an understory of fern - young fern shoots have lovely curled tips like a bishop's crozier.

May 2020 - we saw several fields with all twin lambs. I assumed this was normal until we saw a TV programme which explained that only single lambs are let loose on the fells with their mums. Twin lambs require more looking after by the ewes and are therefore kept closer to the farm so they could be kept an eye on.

May 2020 - The beacon is a managed commercial woodland therefore much of it is conifers. Not my favourite but the conifer shoots are lovely bright green tassels.

June 2020 - Summer brings out the Clover.

June 2020 - Eli is a Husky-Malamute cross. Here he is "in the foetid pond [...] just standing, letting all the unpleasantness soak in" [1] This is Thacka Beck a local nature reserve, the beck runs on from here through the town and was once its only water supply.

June 2020 - Foxgloves.

June 2020 - Campanula.

August 2020 - Triffids, possibly Gunnera Manicata, they were impressive.

August 2020 - Himalayan Balsam. An invasive species that I used to help try and eradicate on the River Wandle when I volunteered down in London.

August 2020 - Rosebay Willowherb. It looks more like a weed to me, growing along the verges, but en masse still provide a bold splash of colour.

October 2020 - Leaves. Some wonderful autumnal colours. 

October 2020 - Fungi. 

October 2020 - I love old walls covered in moss looking like they have been there hundreds of year (which they probably have).

December 2020 - Baubles, The Beacon. Seems to be a local tradition!

February 2021 - Snowdrops. We saw a few pathetic little clumps and then went for a walk along the River Eden and there they were in profusion.

February 2021 - Crocuses. I love the colour purple, I get that from my mother.

February 2021 - Crocuses, St Andrews Graveyard.

April 2021 - Daffodils, Fell Lane on our walk up to The Beacon.

Now we are back round the calendar to start again!

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