Wind sculpted hawthorn by the Welsh Coastal Path near Aberystwyth, Ceredigion

We walked the 11 miles of the coast path between Aberystwyth and Llanon on a beautifully still day, with plenty of warm September sunshine. Everything was peaceful and quiet, the sea lapping gently at the foot of the cliffs below us. Seeing trees like this is a reminder that this is a very exposed stretch of coastline. We saw the aftermath of the damage that the terrible storms last winter caused up and down the coast, shattered paving on the promenade at Aberystwyth, crumbling  edges of fields and gardens, coastal defences torn up and scattered along the beach.

The prevailing weather comes from the south west, where Atlantic fronts tear in across Cardigan Bay. The only trees that can grow in the face of such forces are tough specimens like this hawthorn, growing parallel to the ground.

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Garden produce and honesty box, Aberarth, Ceredigion, Wales
One of the many pleasures of wandering along country lanes are the opportunities to buy local produce. In this one tiny village on the west coast of Wales I saw pots of jam, a comprehensive selection of vegetables and an array of garden plants. These particular stalls are just people selling on their surplus with a request to put the money in a tin or through the letter box.

In areas where there are lots of these plus small scale producers selling at the farm gate you could probably live without visiting a shop. One village I know in Cornwall has various veg, fresh flowers, herbs, bread, eggs and cakes in from various homes as well as a farm selling fresh unpasteurised milk from its fine herd of Jersey cows and several fishermen who sell their catch of mackerel and sea bass straight off the boat.

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Figs growing in a garden near Aberaeron, Ceredigion, Wales

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Water mint growing on the Welsh Coast path near Llanon, Ceredigion

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Crabapples growing in a hedgerow near Tanworth in Arden, Warwickshire

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Wild damsons, Portway, Worcestershire

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It was a gorgeous day today, warm with lots of soft September sunshine so I set off on a long bike ride as part of my preparation for the Birmingham Bikeathon in a couple of weeks. As I toiled up the hill out of Wootton Wawen near Stratford on Avon in Warwickshire, I was astonished to see an entire field of borage. I’ve never seen such a huge expanse. Its star shaped cornflower blue flowers are not only very pretty but also very attractive to bees and the sound of so many of them buzzing about and making the most of the bounty before them was really incredible. I’m not sure why this is being grown. Borage seeds produce an oil that has similar properties to evening primrose but it’s rather late in the year for it so I wonder if it’s being used as a green manure and/or for honey.

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Wootton Wawen parish church near Stratford on Avon. There’s been a place of worship here since 700AD.

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Himalayan balsam along the River Rea, Stirchley, Birmingham
This may look pretty but it is in fact a very invasive non native plant. Its exploding seed heads and tendency to grow alongside running water means it spreads like wildfire. A few years ago this stretch of river was completely clear and now it’s like a jungle.

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  • Highbury Park, Birmingham early morning. Thanks to Mr Greedy Gardener for these pictures.
  • Highbury Park, Birmingham early morning. Thanks to Mr Greedy Gardener for these pictures.
  • Highbury Park, Birmingham early morning. Thanks to Mr Greedy Gardener for these pictures.

Highbury Park, Birmingham early morning. Thanks to Mr Greedy Gardener for these pictures.

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