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The Sussex Bluebell Showcase

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The mild, wet winter and cold April led to peak bluebell flowering before the beginning of May at an ancient bluebell wood in East Sussex. It was interesting to see how much individual trees had changed in just 12 months. The decaying lower branches of a particular old oak gave way at some point since my last visit. I wouldn't have liked to be in the vicinity when they fell.  Best practice is to avoid the popular public stomping grounds and visit much less well-known woods up the muddy tracks. The advantage is that I can photograph pristine carpets of bluebells before they get disturbed. Bluebells cannot generate energy to regrow bulbs if people crush the foliage, something annoyingly visible every year, as social media influencers drape themselves, their children and brides among the flowers. If a route to a good vantage point is not immediately obvious, I will find an indirect route, taking care to step on bare patches and leap over clumps of flowers. Since my somnolent ri

The Secret Bluebell Woods of Sussex

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When the trees grow leaves and bluebells appear, I always feel a sense of achievement that I've made it through winter, and can now look forward to long daylight hours, warm temperatures and all the things I enjoy about the natural world. Plenty of sunlight reaches the ground in May, allowing wood anemones and yellow archangels to bloom alongside bluebells, before the tree canopy thickens, and forests become dark silent places over the summer. Things didn't begin too well for me, after suffering two coronavirus infections and a third untested illness in a short period, despite being 'fully vaccinationized' and having (whisper...natural immunity). Feeling unwell, I walked 26000 steps from the railway station to the forest and back, uphill both ways, twice over, with blisters and chafed inner thighs and I even managed to have 20 minutes spare at the end to buy chips, if I was lucky. I made life easier for myself by subsequently completing the walking segment of my journey

Photos of the Year - 2022

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From Sussex bluebells to Brighton in the snow, 2022 has been a great year for photography.  As my mother and I sipped Aloxe Corton Pinot noir on my birthday, and we prepared to sit through 24 hours of Carry On films on ITV3 over Christmas, we looked back at the last 12 months of gardening and photography. The garden is (mostly) dormant, but the snowdrop bulbs I planted in November are sprouting through the central bed and should provide the first flowers in the new year. One hundred English bluebell bulbs sit 10cm below the surface in my newly-created woodland bed, along with crocuses, snowdrops, and anemones. Over in East Sussex, I was very pleased to discover two new bluebell sites. Dense, established carpets of bluebells is a sign of ancient woodland. In the coming years, my bluebell bulbs will multiply, self-seed and push themselves deeper underground in search of moisture. Despite having taken wildlife photos for 20 years, I never managed to get even a half-decent picture of a wi

Autumn in England 2022

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Our rapidly warming climate is pushing the English autumn colours further and further ahead. As of 25th October 2022, Abbots Wood in East Sussex was still on the green side. I always book a holiday in late October, based on happy childhood memories of the New Forest, but the climate was much cooler back then. The autumn colours now peak in early to mid-November. Unlike parts of North America, where fall can last just a few weeks, ours continues well into December. Fortunately, the village of Little Horsted has a collection of non-native ornamental trees — Ginkgo, Japanese Maple and Witch Hazel, along with native European beech. These species tend to fall earlier than, say, English Oak, Elm or Hornbeam.  Little Horsted is about the same distance from Lewes as Lewes is from Brighton, and the bus journey is not too long. The bus takes me on part of the route my family took from Kent, where I was born, as we moved down to Brighton. My mother said the car stopped in Ringmer, because I need

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