‘All nature is but art unknown…’

Well, quite: Alexander Pope got it. And Pliny enjoyed it a couple of thousand years ago:

‘My house is on the lower slopes of a hill… outside is a meadow, as well worth seeing for its natural beauty as the formal garden.’

And I love my meadow every bit as much at this time of year as I do earlier in the year, when it’s full of fritillaries, primroses and potential. Maybe one of its fundamental charms right now is its transience: by this time next month it will have been cut.

And a couple of days ago I went out, and found these:

Yup, cyclamen hiding in the grass. Autumn is round the corner (winter too, if yesterday’s weather is anything to go by – brrr). The heads of the grasses are drying out, and there are even a few orange rowan leaves settling on them. But on a sunny day it seems as though summer will just go on.

And the insects are still busy. All sorts of them enjoy the bird’s foot trefoil and there have been quite a few bees – but of course I’d like more. We have a local beekeeper and I wonder if I could persuade him that my garden would be a good place to put a hive and add more bees…

There have also been a lot of butterflies, and not just the cabbage whites. Which reminds me, it’s about time I started caterpillar picking on the winter brassicas, but so far the only one I’ve found has been on the basil in the kitchen. I know they’re there, but I’ve not got my caterpillar glasses on yet. Here’s – I think – a meadow brown on one of the mown paths.

I do love the soft grey-brown – definitely one of the next season’s colours, and very reminiscent of a rather good coloured fleece I have to spin. Beautiful.

On a warm evening, the seed heads of the grasses are covered with insects as well:

Though I must admit that it’s not quite as noisy as it should be. Back to the reduced number of bees, I expect.

When it comes to the wildflowers, it’s been an interesting year. There’s been a lot of bird’s foot trefoil, more than I’ve had for a few years; there’s been more orange hawkweed, too. The huge knapweed is bigger than ever, and I keep thinking I should be moving it or staking it or doing something constructive to stop it sprawling all over the place, but one of my rules is interfere as little as possible, and it’s gorgeous as it is.

It only gets in the way a bit

Another plant that’s increased this year is St John’s wort – just a couple of plants for years and then loads, all over the place.

And this year I’ve got my first umbellifers – in the form of several hogweed plants (that’s ordinary hogweed, not the giant hogweed which frightens the horses and strikes terror into the hearts of picnicking holidaymakers). I’ve been watching them closely and there is no way we are even thinking about cutting the meadow until they’ve set seed. They are exquisite.

There hasn’t been much ragwort (whether ordinary, Oxford or just plain unidentifiable), or as much self-heal as I’ve had in the past. And I’d really, really welcome yarrow. It grows on the other side of the wall, so perhaps it would like to spread this way. I could do something about it myself, but there’s my ‘don’t interfere’ mantra to bear in mind.

I’ve had fungi, but they do tend to get a bit lost in the long grass and only manifest themselves as they decay and start to pong a bit.

This could be a brown roll-rim (which sounds like a decorative detail on antique furniture), as I’ve had those in this place before, but later in the season. It’s on its way out now, and is about eight inches across. Any other suggestions gratefully received… Yes, definitely autumn on the horizon.

Well, almost. Sigh.

(But at least there’s the plum glut to console me.)

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10 thoughts on “‘All nature is but art unknown…’

    1. kate Post author

      Thanks – they are absolutely gorgeous. I love cultivated plants, of course, but I think you have to go a long way to find anything as lovely as that hogweed, for instance… sigh….

      Reply
    1. kate Post author

      It’s been a very well-behaved meadow this year, no flopping in damp heaps, no sudden outbreaks of ants’ nests. Mind you, it’s flattened now because we’ve had three days of almost-continuous rain. And rain like this + cyclamen + fungi + yellow leaves = autumn round the corner. How about Indian Summer round the corner? I think that sounds better.

      (I’ve loads of toms to go too, but last year I didn’t even have as single one to eat until 16th August; had lost of green tomato chutney instead.)

      Reply
  1. Harriet

    Your meadow is indeed a special place. What joy to find cyclamen hiding in the grass and the hogweed is stunning. There’s been plenty of bird’s foot trefoil here too.
    You’re right, the past few days have felt very au****al, but I’m not saying the word out loud – it’s not time yet – is it?

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      Thanks… I do love it and I’ll spend the next few months really missing it, though it’s been great sharing it. But if we don’t cut it soon, there’ll be no a— sorry, that-thing-that-comes-after-summer crocuses to see….

      Reply
    1. kate Post author

      Me too – but all I did was abandon cutting the grass and let nature do what it wanted… it gets better every year. Not a bad reward for laziness!!

      Reply

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