Evening Rainbow

We had heavy rain and hail last night with thunder and lightening. For a few brief moments after the rain had mostly stopped, a big rainbow appeared and seemed to end just among the trees at the back of Greenwood House.

Red Campion

Red Campion (Silene dioica) is a lovely bright pink spring flower which lives on grassy banks, verges, and hedgerows. It doesn’t seem to be so prolific this year as in earlier years, partly because of extensive mowing and cut-backs in the cause of tidiness, and partly because of the weather which has had more than its fair share of extremes in April and May. Here is a collection of images taken in Charlton Down – this year and previously. I hope you enjoy them, especially if you cannot get out to see them for yourselves.

Five Sycamores

Trees are such a significant feature of Charlton Down. It is difficult to imagine just how stark the surroundings must have been before the Herrison Hospital was first built back in the 19th century. We benefit greatly from their strategy to create beautiful surroundings by extensive planting of specimen trees. Some of the original trees are still standing, judging by old photographs that have been published for the site. The trees provide us with a lot of pleasure today.

I like to record the seasonal changes in the countryside and village; and trees in particular love to put on a show as they open up in Spring. This group of five sycamores at the road junction between Harrison Road and Sherren Avenue look fully mature but I don’t know exactly how old they are. Maybe they are from the original planting. I have been watching their transformation from bare branches in January through to the present in mid in May. They look so different now the leaves are fully formed. Here are some pictures showing the changes.

Five Sycamores 29 April 2021 1115


I couldn’t resist posting these pictures. Strictly speaking I should not include them because I saw them outside the immediate environment of Greenwood House or Charlton Down. But I had an excursion to Sculpture by the Lakes near Tincleton the other day, and these lovely young goslings caught my eye and looked so cute. There were 14 in all from two broods with all four parent birds keeping an eye on them.

One of fourteen little goslings happily nibbling away at the grass by the waterside at Sculpture by the Lakes.

Cuckoo Pint

The flowers of Cuckoo Pint (Arum maculatum) are unusual. This plant is also known as Lords-and-Ladies, and Arum Lily. In North America a similar plant is called Jack-in-the-pulpit. The arrow-shaped leaves are the first to appear in the woodland floors and hedgerows; and this year there is an explosion of the plants around Charlton Down following last year’s good season for them. The leaves can either be plain or spotted with dark purplish patches.

The flowers consist of a pale green, cowl-shaped spathe which has a purple margin and wraps around the club-shaped purplish-brown spadix. Later, berries develop on the stalk and form a familiar bright red spike among the vegetation in autumn.

Round Barrow 1

The history of the area around Charlton Down goes back to very ancient times. The most visible evidence for this is the number of round barrows in the landscape. These are the tumuli that are marked with an asterisk symbol on Ordnance Survey maps. There are quite a few around the village of Charlton Down and a short walk from Greenwood House. They are burial mounds that were constructed about 3,000 years ago in the Bronze Age.

Some survive better than others after all this time; many are in fields where generations of ploughing have reduced the height of them and rendered them almost invisible to the untrained eye. Some remain spectacularly intact but hidden in plain sight. One such is preserved on the brow of the slope near the highest part of Charlton Higher Down, where it is barely visible at this time of year in the middle of a field of flowering rape (SY68859575). I couldn’t see it till I was very close because of the tall stalks and the curve of the land, but the establishment of a small shrub (I think it is Elder) on the summit of the grassy mound acted as a marker. I had to hold the camera in the air at full arms’ length to get the shots against quite a dramatic background of rain clouds.

Blooming Ramsons

The Wild Garlic or Ramsons are now fully flowering in the village. For a good display, have a look for them in the circular strip of trees that surrounds Herrison House – if they survive the atypical frosts, heavy rain and strong winds that we have been experiencing this May.

Meet the Neighbours 2

Woman on pebble beach with camera
Me and my camera

Hi, I’m Jessica, the author and editor of GREENWOOD blog. You may have seen me out in the village with my camera. I am enthusiastic about nature on our doorstep and sharing what I see. I have been able to indulge my interest since I moved here twenty years ago and especially after I retired from a career involving a number of different aspects of both nature and history, including work in a museum, a research laboratory, and as a consultant in archaeology.

I live here with my partner Colin who I first met over 50 years ago at university. He has twin passions – Newport County Football Club of which he is a life-long supporter, and philosophy. As a former teacher of philosophy he continues to enjoy reading, writing, and giving talks about it.

Colin’s football supporter hat and a book about his favourite philosopher

Don’t forget that contributions to this blog are welcomed from any Greenwood House residents. It would be great to put a name to some of the faces we meet and learn a little about them. It could be about one of your interests, hobbies, activities, or something about your life in the past or the present. A picture (or pictures) and a few sentences of description are all that is needed. You can get in touch through the Contact page on the Greenwood site (https://mygreenwood.blog). Hoping to hear from you.

First Swallows

My first sighting of swallows this year was on 19th April near Forston, not far from Charlton Down, along the Cerne Valley Trail.

Plane Flowers

Despite living here in Charlton Down for so long, and brushing against the low twigs of these trees whenever I go from Greenwood House to the village hall or the shop, I have never noticed their flowers before. I am talking about some Plane trees planted in groups around the parking area in front of Herrison Hall. Their round knobbly fruits are very noticeable, and in fact many of these still linger on the tree after winter and into spring. But this is the first time I have seen the flowers, which are often in clusters together with last year’s fruit and the newly-opened furry leaves. There are separate male and female flowers on Plane trees.