Wednesday 18 May 2022

Witches, Woods and Wild Garlic

Copper Beech, Storey Gardens, Lancaster


Our local railway has been offering cheap day out fares recently, so we hoiked ourselves down to Parton station and took the beautifully scenic route down the west coast of Cumbria to Lancaster. No particular reason; just because it was there. Buried in the middle of the city are the small, but beautifully formed Storey Gardens, dominated by this magnificent Copper Beech. The other side of the wall houses the Tasting Garden, created by the American artist, Mark Dion.

Lancaster Castle

Next door to the gardens stands Lancaster Castle, with almost a thousand years of history behind it. This was where the Pendle Witch Trials were held back in 1612, when ten people, including two men, were convicted of witchcraft and hung upon the moors above the town.

Spring Wood, Whalley, Lancashire

There is a 51mile (82km) long-distance footpath called The Lancashire Witches Walk which runs between the Pendle Heritage Centre and Lancaster. A bit too long on a day trip, but we had occasion to be in the area again, a couple of days later, and stopped off at Spring Wood, Whalley to stretch our legs. As you can see, the woods were spectacular; carpeted throughout with bluebells and wild garlic. The wood is also the location of one of the ten tercet way markers, dedicated to the ten victims of the witch trials. This one is dedicated to Alizon Device, and if that name sounds familiar, along with two of the other 'witches' – Alice Nutter and Elizabeth Device, they were the inspiration for the fictional characters, Agnes Nutter and Anathema Device in Niel Gaiman & Terry Pratchett's Good Omens.

Asian Lady Beetle, Harmonia axyridis

In amongst the garlic, I found this little demon lurking. It is an Asian Lady Beetle, Harmonia axyridis (which sounds like another witch's name), also known in the UK as the Harlequin Ladybird. This is an invasive species that arrived in 2004. It is a voracious predator and is out competing our native ladybirds.

Miniature Schnauzer, 'Mattie'

And finally... an introduction. The forlorn looking bundle of fluff on the left is the 9 week old puppy that was the cause of our second sojourn southwards. We stopped off at Spring Wood on our way back from collecting her. Her name is Matilda (Mattie for short) and ten days later, as you can see from the photo on the right, she is anything but forlorn. In case you're wondering what breed she is, she's a Miniature Schnauzer, and I'm sure that she will feature in many more of my blogs in years to come.

I haven't had the space to do either the Pendle Witches or the Harlequin Ladybirds justice in this short blog, let alone the delights of Wild Garlic, but you can delve into any of these subjects by clicking on the picture links below.

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All the best,


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  1. Replies
    1. It is, Simon. It was also setting seed, and one of the volunteers gave us a sapling, which we will be passing on to a local children's nursery.


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