Hawthorn Flowers

Hawthorn is ubiquitous with the English countryside, particularly in hedgerows. It flowers later than the blackthorn and can look equally spectacular as the blossoms thickly cover long curving branches of the last year’s growth. David Hockney famously painted a series of works featuring springtime hawthorn wreathing the hedges that line rural roads in Yorkshire (Hawthorne blossom near Rudston). However, it doesn’t blossom if the hedges are cut back over the winter months. Locally this means that this year is not as good as last year for these small white flowers, sometimes tinged pink, which provide sustenance for so many insects, and indirectly for the birds. And subsequently this coming autumn there will be fewer berries to feed the wildlife too. It is just a fact of country life that hedges need to be trimmed to keep the growth thick near the base so that they are effective barriers, and visibility is not obstructed for motorists.

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.

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