Having to stay close to home during the last five months I have been grateful that I have a garden to tend and countryside in which to walk. I am lucky in that I live a mere five minutes walk from one of the most beautiful viewpoints in the whole of Cornwall. The ancient Iron-Age fort on Trencrom Hill offers 360 degree views of the surrounding landscape including the Celtic Sea to the West and North and the English Channel (Mounts Bay) to the south. On a clear day you can see as far as Trevose head which is not far from Padstow.
The hill is somewhere that I like to walk to, walk around and sometimes climb up. If there are people up on the top I remain at the bottom. I don’t mind, there is always something new to see. At this time of year the heather is blooming. Patches of purple dot the hillside with flashes of contrasting yellow gorse or golden bracken.
The tracks around the base of the hill are dry and dusty. Granite stones and rocks ready to trip the unwary. Easier than the sticky mud of the winter months though.
On the eastern side the tracks are still grassy and lined with hawkbit. The bracken is dense and on the narrower tracks vicious brambles reach out and grab your ankle. Rosebay Willowherb wafts in the breeze and the scent of wild honeysuckle and buddleia filters through the warm air.
Once the female flowers of the common Ash trees (Fraxinus excelsior) have been pollinated by wind, they develop into conspicuous winged fruits, or ‘keys’, in late summer and autumn.
Ground hugging Tormentil (Potentilla erecta) can be found growing on acid grassland, heathland and moorland, but even pops up alongside roads. It bears yellow, buttercup-like flowers, but with only four petals (buttercups have five) from May to September and provides nectar for solitary bees. Tiny brown butterflies flit amongst the bracken, teasing me, though barely stopping for a rest (and a photo opp); they could be Meadow Browns or Ringlets, but they don’t open their wings for me to get a proper look. Brambles bear pretty pink flowers some already forming the blackberries that will be a treat in a month or so. And we even discovered a couple of apple trees!
Amongst the bracken edges, if you look carefully, is rosy-purple Betony (Betonica officinalis) a plant of meadows, grassy heaths, hedge banks and open woodlands. It is a lovely and well-behaved perennial which minds its own business and doesn’t make a nuisance of itself by spreading around uncontrollably. Bright yellow birds-foot trefoil poke out from the brambles alongside tiny bright blue Germander speedwell (Veronica chamaedrys) which has upright spikes of bright blue flowers with four petals and a white middle lending itself to the names ‘bird’s-eye speedwell’, or ‘cat’s eyes’. And if you glance down at the larger granite slabs that you often have to clamber over you will see tiny mat-like English stonecrop with its fleshy leaves which at this time of the year are tinged with red.
Taller plants such as the yellow daisy flowers of Ragwort and the bright red spikes of Red Bistort (Persicaria amplexicaulis) are easier to see. And for the first time I noticed a huge patch of the invasive Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) growing in a field on the western edge of the hill. Although the pretty pink flowers look quite lovely it reaches well over head height, and is a major weed problem, especially on riverbanks and waste land, but can also invade gardens. It grows rapidly and spreads quickly, smothering other vegetation as it goes. I sincerely hope this doesn’t find its way into my garden!
A final quick look at St Michael’s Mount whilst we are at the top of the hill which is now open to visitors, but only when the tide is out and you can cross the causeway on foot. I won’t be visiting the garden this year as a one way system is in place and I like to choose my own route on those vertigo inducing steep terraces.
Heading home along the lane there is still more to see. Pale cattle lying down in the heat, bright orange Montbretia (Crocosmia) another non-native and invasive plant often found densely carpeting the roadsides in the south-west replacing the frothy cow parsley of early summer and several patches of thistle-like purple flower heads, (Centaurea nigra) Lesser Knapweed, that I also don’t recollect seeing much of in other years. Currently attracting bumblebees its seed also provides food for the birds.
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #108 | Sanctuary