green man at lingen

The photograph above is one of my favourites and was taken on a lovely autumn day in Lingen churchyard.  Lingen is a small community on the Shropshire-Wales border with an ancient church surrounded by even older trees, brambles and evergreen shrubs.  I was involved in a project to restore an orchard in the area and the event was celebrating the apple harvest with games, music and dance.   There's something very special about apples, particularly the old varieties.  Even their names are magical - Puckrupp Pippin, Cornish Gilliflower, Slack Ma Girdle, Peasgood's Nonsuch, Hambledon Deux Ans, Api Noir,  Bloody Ploughman,  Hoary Morning , Knotts Burr, Court Pendu Plat, Roundway Magnum  Bonum... a lot like the shipping forecast, mysterious sounding words that have hidden meaning in their poetry, some telling of their place of origin, some of their looks and taste, others of the growers who developed them.  

I took these photos in my front garden in September.  I live ina modern cul-de-sac but have replaced the grass with
cornfield annuals (left) and planted one of the loveliest of English apples, Lord Lambourne (centre) outside the front door.
For me, an almost perfect colour and combination of sharp and sweet,  developed by the Laxton Brothers of Bedford in 1907
The unusual fruit on the next right is a medlar, an ancient fruit grown by the Greeks and Romans.The fruit is related to the pear and
hawthorn and need to be 'bletted' (left until over-ripe) until eaten and definitely an acquired taste. This is the Nottingham variety with a
lovely white blossom and hairy leaves which turn red and russet in the autumn.  The fruit on the far right is a quince, which passers-by
usually mistake for a pear Other trees in the garden include a Reverend W. Wilks (cooking apple) and a King James Mulberry .
That makes it sound like a big garden but it's not - they all grow next to one another and seem to get on okay.

This year the Snakeshead Fritillaries have really started to flourish and
looked gorgeous against the yellow of the marsh marigolds.

The other exciting news in the garden is that after ten years of patient nurturing
the Mulberry has got fruit on itand that frogs finally have moved into the barrell.  
After last year's success with Great Tits, this year we had a family of Blue Tits hatch.
Pictures of them leaving the nest in the early morning sunshine can be found on my facebook page

Did  know you it is possible to eat a different variety of apple every day for six years and still not have tried all the types grown in Britain - over two thousand varieties of eaters and  cookers plus hundreds of cider apples specific to the west of England? In all, over 6000 different varieties have benn grown at one time in Britain.  If you want to know more, get along to an Apple Day event in October.  Apple Day was started in Covent Garden, the home of costermongers (apple sellers, named after the costard apple) by Common Ground in 1990 with the aim of demonstrating the importance of the apple in our lives, culture, landscape and wildlife.  Apple Days can be found throughout the country, normally around the third weekend of October and some offer an apple identification service, so if you want to find out the name of that old apple tree growing in your garden take a couple of fruits from the tree along with some leaves.  I will be at Sulgrave Manor with its wonderful orchard  on the 9th &10th October - hope to see you there.

wassail of King Lod at Sulgrave Manor

I have been involved with many national and community based environmental projects and the image of the Green Man is one with which I am frequently associated.  One of my hurdy gurdys' headstocks is a carving of the Green Man from the church in the village of Abbey Dore, Herfordshire.  The original carving probably dates to the restoration of the church that was undertaken by Lord Scudamore in 1633, which would suggest that the strength of the Green Man image even at this late date was still significant.  

Abbey Dore headstockgurdy decoration

The hurdy gurdy was made by Chris Eaton at Upton Upon Severn and he used woods that have been part of  my work, including apple and black poplar, in its construction  The decoration by Rose Eaton on the body is oak leaves and acorns, inspired by Alison Wisenfeld's illustrations in The Tree by Judy Hindley, a lovely book which I think sadly is probably no longer available (just found some secondhand copies here).

Green Man, Linley, Shropshire

The  Green Man from the chapel at Linley in Shropshire near to where I live.