"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Wildflowers in a Country Churchyard


Primrose and Violets

Lesser Celandine

A Churchyard absolutely full of Primroses

When I visited St Giles Church, Packwood, in February to look for snowdrops and follow in the footsteps of Edith Holden of "Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady" fame, I mentioned I would try and return in a month or so to look for Spring wildflowers.

It was so lovely, sunny and warm this afternoon that I decided to make my return visit.

The Church looks much better surrounded by blue skies than in the pouring rain when I last went!

The churchyard was breathtakingly beautiful today with clump after clump of primroses, hundreds of violets together with lesser celandine and speedwell.

A few photos below of the view that greeted me - sadly, the photos don't really do it justice but it will give you an idea of how lovely the flowers looked.

Primroses and Violets

Primroses and Lesser Celandines

Lesser Celandine

I am not 100% sure of the identity of this tiny white flower - there is an illustration of a very similar flower in the Country Diary which Edith Holden calls a Strawberry-leafed Cinquefoil but to me it looks like a variety of strawberry!

Edit - Many thanks to Temple Balsall Nature Reserve for identifying this plant as a Barren Strawberry (similar to Wild Strawberry but it bears no fruit)

Speedwell - my grandfather always used to call these "Bird's Eye Speedwell" as he said they resembled a bird's eye - not so sure about this now I am older! Much as I love wildflowers I am not a botanist so I haven't attempted to distinguish which species of Speedwell or Violets the flowers are!

The Churchyard contains over a hundred species of flower - some quite rare in this part of Warwickshire. Its really wonderful to see that, although the area round more recent graves is kept tidier, the rest of the churchyard is a real haven for wildlife with lots of overgrown areas, brambles and ivy tumbling over old tombs and gravestones.

There are even teasels right by the porch door.

Adding even more colour are flowers which have been planted on graves, such as daffodils and other plants which have naturalised.

A memorial to Graham Baron Ash and his parents, who were owners of Packwood House before giving it to the National Trust.

There are also a couple of interesting features on the church walls which I didn't get chance to take photos of last time due to the rain.

In the photo below you can see a Scratch Dial or Mass Dial. A stick would be placed in the central point to show by the sun the times for celebrating Mass.

These slits were used in the past for arrow sharpening when men and boys were expected to practise archery each Sunday.

Many church porches are large and covered - apparently in the past marriage ceremonies had to be conducted in the porch and not the church itself because the ceremony used the words "carnal sin"! Once married the couple were allowed inside the church for a blessing.

Lichens on a gravestone

and I found these catkins in the car park

I plan to visit the churchyard again as the year progresses to look for more wildflowers and it looks a good place for Spotted Flycatchers.

If you live in the area - it is well worth a visit to see the primroses and violets and it is very quiet, peaceful and tranquil there with just birdsong to keep you company.

The photos were taken with the Olympus E-420 using either the 14-42mm lens or the 35mm f3.5 Macro lens - I am still struggling with the focusing on the macro but at least today more of the photos were in focus so there are slow signs of improvement!


Rohrerbot said...

I love your commentaries and the area you live. It looks so peaceful there...nobody trying to kill you, hit you with their car, running around stealing things.....just perfection. I imagine the primrose growing at the order of the dead below those gravestones or the ghosts sharpening their imaginary arrows alongside the building. Your pictures capture that serenity and it feels comfortable. In fact, your pics over past posts take us to secretive gardens and quiet places. On a previous post, I am reminded of the Secret Garden from your shots in the shaded woods. I am trying to create that in the desert and block out the urban noise and cover it with bird sounds. It's working but it also takes time:) Hope you're having a good week. Your writing and pics are reflective. Thanks for sharing your stories.

Ragged Robin said...

Thank you so much Chris - that really is a lovely comment and I'm so glad you are enjoying the posts. Its great that they remind you of the Secret Garden.

I am lucky to live so close to places like this but I have to say some of the problems you mention are not so far away from where I live!

TBH I think the situation with my mum at the moment has meant that whenever I get a few free hours from various commitments, I "escape" to places where I can find beauty and solitude. Here I can just live for the moment and enjoy the natural world.

I had forgotten myself how lovely this area of Warwickshire is!

ShySongbird said...

A most interesting and peaceful post with lovely photos. The churchyard looks so pretty filled with my favourite Spring wildflowers. You mentioned beauty and solitude in your reply to Chris...two of the things I hold most dear! In a troubled world I find great comfort in Nature.

How fascinating to read about marriage ceremonies taking place in church porches. I had never heard that before.

I too intend to look for Spotted Flycatchers in churchyards this year. I confess I have never seen one :-( but have noted on many blogs that churchyards are likely places.

I hope you don't get three of these comments! I kept getting an error message so not sure if the other two went through or not.

Toffeeapple said...

How pretty, the Primroses and Violets are made for each other. It is good that you find solace in the landscapes around you.

Ragged Robin said...

Shy Songbird - Many thanks. I think Spring wildflowers are probably my very favourite too!

Spotted Flycatchers do seem very fond of churchyards. I checked out several last year and finally found a family complete with newly fledged young at Berkswell. From memory I think you sometimes visit Draycote Water so you may know Napton on the Hill. According to some local bloggers there were Spotted Flycatchers at the churchyard there last summer.

Oh and not to worry only the one comment came through :D.

Toffeeapple - Thanks so much. You are so right about the primroses and violets.

Temple Balsall Nature Reserve said...

Spotted Flycatchers have nested at Packwood Hall in recent years and can be seen around the Churchyard if you are lucky, they are getting scarce nowadays. The little white flower that looks like a Strawberry is Barren Strawberry, like a Wild Strawberry but no fruit ( barren ).

Ragged Robin said...

Temple Balsall NR - Many thanks for your comment and extra special thanks for identifying the Barren Strawberry. I will edit the post. I am pleased to hear that Spotted Flycatchers have nested nearby - as you say, (like so many species) they have declined so much in recent decades. I have just found your delightful Blog - fascinated to see the Butterbur flowers - its one of those species I have often seen in illustrations but never actually seen.