Also known as Rose Bay Willow Herb, the prolific wild flower called Fireweed, five feet tall with spikes of magenta flowers, cheers the hearts of those whose cityscape has become a bomb site or whose buildings have been cleared by machine. The dormant seeds spring to life after destructive events such as forest or man-made fires, hence the name, Fireweed. This occasional column will celebrate the persistence of wildlife in urban conditions.
St John’s Gardens
26th March 2012
The afternoon stretches its pale limbs into the spaciousness of sunlit warmth, cooled by fingers of sea air from the Mersey. Yellow is the dominant colour of early spring, with regiments of daffodils and blasts of forsythia, given greater emphasis by the freshly green grass. People lie in the sun, in groups or alone, or stroll past the beds of polyanthus whose pristine appearance and jewel colours: pale and deep yellow, regal purple and crimson, remind you of mediaeval embroidery from a royal tournament.
Into the mellow luxuriance of this time and place comes a chariot of new life: six babies in a scarlet mega buggy, sitting up and looking round like tiny royals about to wave.
And everyone’s attention stands up!
Urban parks and gardens are the common land of city dwellers. On this day of unseasonal heat the shared experience of well-being within the jointly held space creates a moment of integrative harmony, overlooked by the trees whose pale pink and white blossom have the silence of beauty.
Springing to Life
26th March 2012
In March winter and spring coexist for a while. As the train speeds from Runcorn towards Edgehill, last year’s ripened grass is brought to flaxen life by the interplay of sunlight and flashing breeze. The trees along the rail track, punctuated into darkness by the occasional evergreen, are still in power-packed bud: their points of energy golden yellow and lime green and silvery grey. And this makes them seem immobile, as if someone has painted them, because they have not yet unfurled their leaves to catch the breeze and twinkle in the shimmering light.
The fields give way to backyards and gardens; leafless magnolias hold up their waxen flowers to catch sunbeams; cherry trees blossom in momentary perfection and a marmalade cat on a shed stretches its limbs towards the outer reaches of languorous pleasure. He hasn’t seen the solitary wood pigeon high in the bare-branched silver birch: its fanned tail silhouetted against the azure sky; the careful beak drawn along each feather in turn.
Surely there should be a silver nutmeg and a golden pear somewhere?
Fireweed 1 - St John’s
Gardens & Springing to Life
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