• It's not every year we get them

    It's not every year that we get them here, but the Painted lady butterflies have turned up in the last few days. Only a couple so far, but they do love love love the valerian & we've got plenty of that around the house. No idea where it came from as we never planted any, so one or two chance seeds got going about twenty years back and now we're surrounded by it, but if it pulls in the butterflies that's a great bonus. Remarkable to think that Painted ladies have come all the way over from Europe, maybe even up from the Med., where of course valerian will be very familiar to them. When so many butterflies can be pretty jumpy when you try and photograph them PLs are quite calm & seem not to feel threatened.

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  • The Flying Scotsman...at last!

    One of my first loves was the age of steam on British Railways. Yes, I have to admit it - I was a train spotter as a boy. My passion endured until 1968 when the last steam engines were withdrawn from regular service. Countless days with fellow spotters on innumerable platform ends all over the north of England or creeping surreptitiously into some of the fabulous old engine sheds to lurk among the hissing, oily, black sleeping giants awaiting their next turn of duty and, on very special days scrounging an illicit cab ride up the shed yard. Happy days indeed.

    I still love steam engines, but they're all a bit too shiny and lovely for me now, but thank goodness so many have been preserved. Always good to see one really given its head on a bit of mainline track, and because I never managed to see Flying Scotsman when she was in service I beat a path over to Shelwick Junction, just north of Hereford today to catch a glimpse. Because she was coasting there wasn't much steam effect sadly, but still a phenomenal beast.

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  • Strange birch leaves and whitebeams on The Doward

    I am currently wondering what might have caused these strange patterns on the leaves of one of our birches. Can't say I've noticed this before. It looks as if leaves have been on top of each other causing some sort of shadowing & hence suppression of chlorophyll, but I couldn't see any leaves lying like that on the tree. I picked all the leaves up off the ground. Thoughts?

    Yesterday and the 3rd June I was down on The Doward, high above the Wye Valley to photograph some of the rare endemic whitebeam species specifically associated with the area. There are supposed to be 14 different species there, and I think I've found about half of them. Many of them grow in the hairiest of situations, shooting horizontally from precipitous limestone cliffs, so quite a few are almost impossible to access without abseiling down the cliffs. I'm of the opinion that one sees the best of these little trees when they are backlit and of course the main reason for going down now was to try and catch them in flower...and most of them were. I'm just posting one to whet appetites. More will eventually feature in the new book for which we are raising funds.

    I am working in tandem with the Herefordshire Tree Forum to try and produce a beautifully illustrated hardback book on "The Remarkable Trees of Herefordshire". To do this we need to raise funds through sponsorship. If you're keen to learn more about the project, including how you might be able to help, please drop me an email either through this website or to archiemiles@btinternet.com

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  • Monster rowan in flower

    I was completely blown away by the monster rowan on the hills above Kinsham when I first went up there about three weeks ago. A 4.5m girth would certainly look like a world record to me. Closer inspection of the tree the other day led me to look at the ramification of its bole. While it may well be emerging at ground level as one single bole there is also a sense that the bole is composed of several closely entwined stems which, as they have grown, have become fused together. Clearly, only a cross-section of the whole bole would confirm or refute this. That said, this is still a remarkable tree. A closer look at the fallen bough behind the tree, that may in some fashion be propping up the rest of the tree, much of which is displaying various splits and areas of decay, reveals a braid of aerial roots tracking back along the inside of the decaying structure. I love this powerful illustration of the drive to survive.

    Anyway here's the tree in splendid full flower. How old do we think it might be? I'm going 150-200 years old... but who knows?

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  • A twig that may one day lead to a beautiful relationship

    A couple of years ago a chap dropped by the house who wanted to buy one of my books (apologies to him - I have forgotten his name), and he very kindly gave me a female native black poplar in a pot, as he was doing his best to spread them around the country with the hope of raising the percentage of females against the overwhwelming number of male trees. I nursed it along in its pot these last couple of years and then planted it out in our new little wood at the bottom of our orchard back in February.

    About the same time as this I was over in Putley photographing Dave Smith repollarding some old black pops. (see back on the blog). As I was leaving I snapped half a dozen twigs off the ends of the brash, took them home, and simply heeled them into the edge of one of the veg. beds. To my delight one of them struck and now I have a very small male tree to be nurtured in a pot until it is big enough to join its mate down in the wood.

    I know this is very small beer as far as native black poplar regen. in the county is concerned, but hopefully it will do some good, and if the female eventually starts to produce viable seed then all will not have been in vain.

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Archie Miles photography

Archie's Blog

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