Thursday, 6 April 2017

Mindfulness? Barton House Kale and Sprouts, Ricin and Iran

If you just like pictures you can skip this word heavy intro.

I hope this does not sound like pretentious twaddle  but here goes.
 I think no matter where you are  if you have your eyes open when you are out and about then there is going to be something that  should be looked  at with more than  just a glance. Obviously there will be times and places that offer more than others  but it has to be a pretty bleak sort of  environment that  does not offer something that is visually exciting  or that brings to mind an 'I wonder why or how'. The visual is very closely connected to the tactile and often subjects that are  visually stimulating are begging to be touched. These visual stimulants do not have to be on the grand scale, in fact they are often on the small  and  mundane level- a bit of twig pressed by a boot into some soft mud -  a plastic bag, caught high, flapping  in the bare branches of a  tree like a trapped bird  desperate to  free itself or  abstract  mud splashes on a  rendered roadside house rivalling Jackson Pollack  a persistent  drip from a broken  gutter staining a wall, a conjunction of  different roof angles all in  one tiny part of  your field of vision . It is all there to be noticed  and then  properly seen by working thorough the detail of what it is that pleases you.It can be the contrast of shapes, the play of light, an incongruous juxtaposition,   a satisfying blend or contrast of colours, a cloud formation or something inexplicable that fills you with a feeling of awe, wonder,  amazement, intimacy  or contentment   - seek these things out. It is not laborious, your mind will think  all these things through in micro fractions of a second.  It is these, very often tiny, visual excitements that can lift  any day above the routine and can make the whole of life more satisfying.  

Many of these highlights  go by each day  and  mostly only you will have enjoyed them. They happen to me all the time  and mostly 
 they are impossible to record  and if they weren't  they  would probably mean little to anyone else because it was the moment as much as the subject  which gave the satisfaction. However sometimes I have the camera  with me  ( no camera on my phone) and manage  to  record some of the  bigger events. They are immensely satisfying to me  because I have had the  pleasure of the experience  as well as being able  to look  back  at the  pictures  but,  at the risk of  slipping into undue  introspection  I am never really sure  why I feel the need to put the pictures and some explanation  on a blog. Is it an attempt at getting a message across? Probably  not  because no matter what message I want to send the number of followers I have  is  not going to get that message out to more than a very few. Is it ego, is it the need to communicate ( a need  which  the smart  phone seems to have us in its non-stop thrall. ), a desperate need to share (another recent phenomenon?) or is it the sheer challenge of trying to get noticed and if I had a million followers would I just give up?
I  enjoy communicating but surely  there are easier ways than  this  typing with two fingers stuff. It could be ego  though the number of visits to this site will tell you that that is not being satisfied . Is it a need to share? Well someone who posts so occasionally can't be that desperate to share and surely Facebook would be  more effective  though I do feel that sharing is a  part of it. 
I enjoy getting things down on paper, it helps to organise  and understand your own thoughts, I do enjoy sharing and communicating and I do enjoy seeing images with some text that shows a bit of insight so maybe this is just my  harmless selfish indulgence   and getting  one or two extra followers  now and then  means perhaps someone  does indeed share my  way of doing things  and they are  my  occasional  bits of icing on the cake.        

Having read the first part of this text back to myself the word mindfulness  came to mind so I looked  up what  mindfulness  meant and it was not a million miles away from what I was trying  to say  but rather than calming the mind I would encourage you to get excited over the visual  detail of the  mundane and  overlooked and that  might in some way actually be a benefit  by  distracting you from the  heavier problems that are bearing down upon you.  

Phew, lighten up Williams!

New posts tweeted on @pwhorticulture



I live in South Warwickshire, its very southern tip, and  a few minutes down the road  we are in Gloucestershire  and  in the Cotswold AONB . It is sheep country and ideal sprout growing country, Brassicas such as  cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflowers and  sprouts like limey soil,  at least growers like limey soil because its high alkaline pH  helps keeps the fungal disease club root at bay.
This colourful field caught my eye when I was  driving past  and I happened to have the camera so I pulled in. 
I thought it was  red cabbage at first  but as the  owner happened top be on site  he explained  it was a red kale and that several varieties of kale filled the bottom end of the field . Sprouts grew at the top.  
So with permission I  trod carefully  to take a look.  

If you are thinking the two pictures below show  what a lovely misty  morning it was  and how atmospheric it must have been  early that  day .......... 

..........then you might be disappointed to know that  it was simply that having left the camera in the van all through the  previous frosty night  that when I brought it out into  the relative  warmth of the afternoon the  lens steamed up and I had not noticed. After a   few minutes of   acclimatisation the same  picture  became  far less wistful and quite a bit more dynamic as you can see below

These crinkly kale were the best. With a bit of imagination  you could see yourself looking down on the treetops of a tropical forest,  albeit a very organised one. ( or possibly  the back end of some over primped  creatures at Crufts.) 
Some of them still held a touch of frost which  added to their stiffness to the touch and  gave them  just a hint of sparkle. 

Harvested kale looking like some tropical storm has ripped through the north Cotwolds and laid  waste to the forest trees. 

 Great Colour

Bluey grey brassica leaves were a perfect foil  for their  purple red counterparts. It is a colour scheme that also  works well in the ornamental garden perhaps even with the same plants.   

Narrow leaved kale looking as tough as I have always found it when it comes to cooking it.

 Walking between the spouts I was surprised to see so many on the ground. These had been the first picking which had been discarded when they were seen to have been to be damaged by the diamond back moth. The moth is a pest of all brassicas  and though the  first sprouts were hit the  kales seemed to have  escaped.  Much higher than usual  populations of the moth coming across from Mediterranean countries during the  summer  combined with  pesticide resistance and a fast breeding cycle  meant the moths were able to do considerable damage  in some regions

The small caterpillars can bore into the  sprout as well as strip leaves down to the  veins . 
It looks like I have an E.T./ Kermit/Ninja Turtle hybrid by the back of the neck  here

 I have just been sowing some of these Ricinus seeds and I could not resist a picture. They must be some of the most   beautifully patterned seeds around and they are definitely amongst the most poisonous seeds if not the most poisonous. Be careful. 
The grown plant makes a fantastic  and dramatic foliage plant for large  annual


Barton House, Barton On the Heath.

I was invited to take a walk around Barton House last year just before one of its open days. Quite quirky mix of styles, plants, history and sculptures. Well worth a visit,  next opening 28th May. 

This is not the way to punish your children.

A follysome pavilion

A stem bent wooden bench by Gaze Burvill in front of ................
a thicket of shrub I could not figure out, it might be hazel and ...........
two  South American stone figures or are they Eastern? Anyway they are playing rounders.

Like I say , Worth a trip in May, If you happen to be down that way.


I went to Iran in February. 
Great country, great people, incredible history.
Great  trip with  Uppersia
More pictures next time.