Black hill and butterflies

Dear Monty,

We walked Toff the whippet on the opposite side of the valley.

The 'Diamond Park' is the reclaimed site of an old drift mine, which produced high grade anthracite. The old coal tip is now full of devil's bit scabious, and festooned in small tortoiseshell butterflies. I counted 14, but there were more.

This year the Powys County Council left the grass uncut in the middle of the sloping hillside. The soil here is very poor, only about an inch thick with a layer of clay, shale and coal waste beneath. It is very boggy after the rain. This area has regenerated over the last 20 years and you can now see typical meadow flora. Earlier in the year there was a proliferation of marsh orchids and ragged robin. Now blond grasses and a swathe of purple blue scabious make this former industrial site beautiful, with young oak, ash, alder, birch and willow getting a foothold.

My black hill shone like gold in the early morning sun.

I have to reclaim my garden from discordance.
Last weekend the last remaining pine from the left hand border was taken down. This was an overgrown remnant of a former hedge, which was beginning to shift. It was not taken down to its roots and being a hemlock pine with beautiful scented resin it should regenerate from its existing side shoots.

I am not a knowledgeable gardener, I just look and see what pleases my eye. There is an imbalance between the right and left hand view down this small garden now that the overarching branches have gone. To redress this I need to cut the right hand block of beech down about two feet, perhaps introducing a curve to mimic the curve of the hill behind. (courtesy of inspiration from Veddw). Once the balance in levels has been restored, then I will be happy.

Talking of hills and pines, I have just bought 'On the Black Hill' by Bruce Chatwin, it will be my recommended reading for an October retreat in Devon.

Hope you have a fruitful October.



  1. Thank you for your good wishes for October - it looks very promising.

    I think you are right and a curve to it would add grace.

    And I am delighted to hear about the wild flora growing on the wasteland. What a treat for you now, every year, I trust.

    Love the butterfly pic and love having our very own ! Xx


    1. Anne, I know that you are not keen on the doing bit of gardening, but I actually enjoy cutting back, it's a bit like sculpting or drawing. Having said that, my first attempt at reducing the height of the beech leaves it looking a bit mangled, so not very graceful yet. But nature is forgiving.


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