A record of wildlife in my garden and various trips to the Warwickshire countryside and occasionally further afield.
"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, 19 June 2014
Maxstoke Castle, Emperor Moth caterpillar update, A Spitfire flypast and a Ringlet
We went along to Maxstoke Castle last weekend - there is just the one Open Day a year. The weather wasn't very good - it rained on and off throughout the visit - any smudgy marks on the photos are a result of raindrops on the lens!!
Maxstoke Castle is a fortified manor house or castle built around 1345 by Sir William de Clinton, Earl of Huntingdon - who also built the nearby Maxstoke Prior. One hundred years later the castle was partially re-modelled by the Earl of Stafford. At the end of the sixteenth century it became the property of Sir Thomas Dilke and, apart from short periods of time, the castle has remained in the hands of the Dilke (later Fetherston-Dilke) family who still live there today.
The castle is made of red sandstone and today there remains a restored medieval gatehouse, curtain wall and angle towers.
Richard III visited the castle in 1485 on his way north to Nottingham and subsquently on to his death at the Battle of Bosworth.
The Courtyard Garden
We had a look round the inside of the house (no photos allowed) but you can tour the Banqueting Hall, the Oak Drawing Room (with its rather mysterious and ornately carved Whispering Door) and the Library.
We then walked around the outside of the house following the moat walk - roses were clambering all over the walls.
Valerian and Ivy-leaved Toadflax had managed to grow in cracks between the building stones.
At this stage we visited the refreshment tent where last year we had the most delicious cake - but horrors of horrors they had sold out!!! If we go next year we'll go a lot earlier!!
So onwards to the pleasure gardens
There is a lovely meadow and woodland walk with lots of wildflowers flourishing.
Is this a Handkerchief Tree?
Views of the castle and moat
Glade of Foxgloves
A vegetable garden, tennis court and more herbaceous borders were our last port of call.
Anyone for tennis?
Close by was this wonderful "white" border - could just imagine relaxing here with a Pimms after a game of tennis!!
Astrantia again - just love this plant. I managed to buy one from Coughton Court but they only had the dark pink variety available and I must admit I do like this creamy white/pinky colour.
The Emperor Moth caterpillars are now 5 weeks old and requiring about 5 top-ups of bramble/hawthorn leaves a day. In fact, I have come to the conclusion they never stop munching not even to sleep. I have to admit I will be a little relieved when they pupate which could be any day now. Note their nice new cage!!! Although really there are that many of them I should have bought two!
Last night we went along to Birmingham International Airport as a Spitfire which had been displaying at the nearby Belfry Hotel and Golf course was due to make a brief flypast.
We went a walk along a public footpath near a place called Castle Hills (not far from the Shadowbrook Meadows reserve I visited recently) where you can get a good view of the runway.
The spitfire was due to fly along the runway in a north to south direction i.e. towards us but lo and behold it flew from south to north and I just managed to get this record shot - not helped by shooting into the sun!!!
And here it is again disappearing rapidly from view.
Just as we were leaving I spotted my first Ringlet butterfly of the year in a hedgerow.
Welcome to my blog. I have been interested in natural history from an early age and we have tried to create a garden attractive to wildlife. I also enjoy reading, photography, collecting fossils, visiting historic buildings and gardens and supporting Aston Villa. Please feel free to leave a comment and, if you would like to email me, my email address is ciraggedrobinsATgmail.com - remember to replace AT with @. Thank you for visiting.