Apples & Pears

Compared with last year at this time, the fruit trees in the Community Orchard are slower to flower. The plum blossoms are nearly finished and the late frosts do not seem to have affected the setting of the fruits. Pear trees are now taking their turn to bloom, while the apples are quite a bit behind – mostly just tight red buds this week. The orchard is looking good. There is a pretty carpet of dandelions and daisies in the grass with patches of purple ground-ivy flowers here and there.

Meet the Neighbours 1

May I introduce Louie? This sweet little chap lives with David and Lynne. Louie’s doggy parents both belong to their Son. Louie is a mixture of a Jackapoo (Mother, Jack Russel / Poodle cross) & Russian Toy Terrier (Father). Louie’s Mother, Father and two sisters from same litter are all short straight haired and show little resemblance to Louie who is the beauty of the family with his lovely silky coat. He loves chasing tennis balls, and also young children – because he likes to be stroked.

Copper Beech Leaves 1

One of the greatest pleasures afforded me as a Greenwood House resident must be watching the huge copper beech trees to the south of the building wake up in Spring. From the bare skeleton branches of winter, a gradual hint of a tint of pink starts the display. Then before you know it, the leaf buds are opening and the bright rusty red leaves unfold. I never cease to be delighted at observing the show. From a distance and close to. I must admit to being almost obsessed by the beauty of these trees. I take lots of photographs throughout the year. The trees are like old friends to me and give great solace and joy. I make no apology for the fact that I will be including lots of pictures of them in this blog. (How many copper beeches do you actually think are out there?)

Sycamore flowers

The wonderful yellowy haze amongst the branches of some trees is made up of thousands of small flowers which emerge either before or with the leaves depending on the species. At the junction of Herrison Road with Sherren Avenue is a group of tall majestic trees that greet all comers to the village. One of these is a Sycamore that has started to flower over the past week. The small flowers are still in bud and hang like miniature bunches of golden grapes below the still-folded new pink leaves.

P.S. Since I took these pictures the other day, the flowers have begun to open as you can see below.

Sycamore leaves and flowers now open on some of the trees

Cherry blossoms by the bus stop

Cherry blossoms on the two trees by the bus stop in their full splendour.

Pink Super Moon

The moon loomed large and bright last night over Charlton Down. It was rising as the sun was still setting and casting a radiant glow over the fields. Tonight it will be even better – if the sky remains clear – as it will be 100% full moon. It is the April Pink Super Moon. What is a Super Moon? The Natural History Museum website has a clear description. My shots don’t do its luminosity justice, so have a look out of your window tonight or go outside and see how beautiful it is for yourself.

Greenwood History 1

Could this be Forston House where the first Asylum was established?

The story of Greenwood House actually starts long before it was actually opened in 1895 when it was an extension to the Dorset County Lunatic Asylum to accommodate female patients. There is quite a bit of information around and it is an interesting subject. There is the book In the Course of Time: A History of Herrison Hospital and Mental Care in Dorset 1832-1992 by Jennifer Rogers and published by West Dorset Mental Health NHS Trust, 1992. It is currently out of print – although quite a few Charlton Down villagers will already have a copy because there have been two reprints issued and sold in the village in the last decade. There are also several well-researched and comprehensive on-line accounts of the history of the Herrison Hospital on which to draw for information. One example of these can be found in the Charlton Down Village Hall web-site. [I will give links to other sources of information in further instalments of Greenwood history].

Apparently, It all started in 1827 when Francis John Browne offered his Forston House mansion, with land, and money, to establish an asylum. Astonishingly, before that time, there was no official or widespread free provision of care for this vulnerable group of people in the community. The County accepted Browne’s offer, and the Forston Asylum opened in 1832 with 65 patients. It proved to be a much needed facility, and before long the increasing numbers of people requiring this kind of support meant that the institution had to extend – until the point where it was no longer a practical proposition to continue on that site. An additional problem was the damp: the main building did not have adequate foundations, it was near the river, and subject to flooding. Floors were needing replacement. By 1860 they were planning a move to new and larger premises on higher and drier ground here on Charlton Down.

It took me a while to identify the location of Forston House, or what remains of the original asylum following some demolition. I believe I captured a glimpse of it accidentally some years ago near Forston Lower Farm about a mile along the public footpath from the lower part of the village (see the picture above). I took a photograph of a winter flooded field that I now think lies next to Forston House bounded by its long stone wall. I may be wrong so tell me if you know better.

Allotment Lane

I like to walk to the pathway by the allotments at the top of the village. I call it ‘Allotment Lane’. It is the by-way between Herrison Road and Sherborne Road. A fine group of pines marks the corner of this rough road, right next to the gate leading into the productive private domain of plots tended by Charlton Down residents. There is another gate on the south side of the path a bit further on. This leads to a field with an old derelict barn. I used to venture just inside this gateway to enjoy and photograph the wide panoramic views over the fields and far away. You can see Wood Hill Clump and Hardy Monument clearly from there. But the gate is always securely fastened these days to prevent fly tipping, unauthorised parking, and cattle rustling, no doubt. The hedgerows along the pathway are rich with wild plants (some domesticated too – maybe escapees from the allotments). The luxuriant growth makes a fine and biodiverse habitat that attracts lots of insects, small invertebrates, and birds. This Spring sees the hedge on the north side next to the allotments neatly clipped back. The hedge on the opposite side is still in its full growth from last year.

P.S Remember you can click on any picture to enlarge it and see all the images in the gallery.

New Lambs

Mothers and lambs just a few hours old. Many in the fields around the village right now. They are a delightful sight, but extreme caution is needed when walking nearby. These new Mums and their pregnant companions must not be disturbed in any way. They need a quiet life. I am sure you will all take care when passing by as some animals settle very close to the public footpath – I had to silently and slowly inch past on one occasion as there was no alternative route. Notices on the fence posts remind walkers and joggers with dogs that worrying sheep is a criminal offence. These pictures were taken with the camera zoom full out.

Have a Good Week-End

I hope you all have a lovely day – as beautiful as yesterday when I photographed these blossoms by the Gym (the old church).