Posts tagged ‘Hampstead Heath’

June 12, 2015

return to the Hill Garden

return to the Hill Garden

I took these photos a month ago, on a sunny but breezy afternoon when I walked up to the top of Hampstead to see the wisteria at the Hill Garden.

wisteria at the Hill Garden

It was fairly empty when I arrived, but I soon noticed there was a crowd of what seemed to be art students wandering around with rolls of chicken wire and tape, and opted to steer myself away from them so that I could enjoy the romance of the place the way I like it best: in solitude.

the pergola at the Hill Garden

the pergola at the Hill Garden

at the Hill Garden

the pergola at the Hill Garden

at the Hill Garden

the pergola at the Hill Garden

at the Hill Garden

wisteria at the Hill Garden

at the Hill Garden

at the Hill Garden

at the Hill Garden

under the pergola at the Hill Garden

[photos taken with the Hipstamatic app, using the Susie Lens, Ina’s 1935 film and Jolly Rainbo flash]

There are earlier posts about the Hill Garden here and here.

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May 9, 2015

walk on, past

On Thursday, after I’d voted (and I’m not going to talk about the election result because it is just too depressing), I ended up taking a long walk through the woods on Hampstead Heath, which I hadn’t done for a while.

One of the drawbacks about going to classes two days a week is that I seem to have less energy for walking as much as I did last year — chronic fatigue means I have to balance what I want to do against what I have to do, and walking for pleasure often gets left out of the equation. Because of this, I haven’t been walking as much as I’d hoped and planned to this year. I usually walk to my printmaking class, but although I had great intentions when I started the drawing class that, since it’s in the afternoon, I’d have enough time to walk there too (it’s in a different place to my printmaking class), I never seem to have enough energy to do that, and I’m pretty sure if I did walk down there it would make me too tired to focus on the class (as I’ve mentioned before, it’s a pretty intense class).

All of which means that I’ve hardly been in the woods on the Heath this year (although I have been up on Parliament Hill a few times), and Thursday’s walk reminded me how much I’ve missed it. I did take photos when I was out on Thursday, but I recently came across these photos I took last year (which I had uploaded at the time but not got around to blogging, because that was when I ended up taking that impromptu blog break for a few months), so I thought I’d post them now. I always find something very soothing about being on my own out in the woods, and I think these pictures capture that soothing atmosphere so you can share it, too.

Vale of Health, Hampstead Heath, spring 2014

Hampstead Heath, spring 2014
I can never tell if this is wild chervil (aka cow parsley), wild carrot (aka Queen Anne’s lace) or hogweed
(which is poisonous)

Hampstead Heath, spring 2014

Hampstead Heath, spring 2014

Hampstead Heath, spring 2014
it’s a bit confusing that baby coots have red beaks like adult moorhens

Hampstead Heath, spring 2014
don’t know what this plant is, but it’s got pretty leaves

Hampstead Heath, spring 2014
cleavers, aka goosegrass, one of those multipurpose plants: eat it, make dye, stuff beds, use as a sieve…

Hampstead Heath, spring 2014
garlic mustard, aka Jack-by-the-Hedge, is tasty in soups, salads and stir-fries

bluebells, Hampstead Heath, spring 2014

bluebells, Hampstead Heath, spring 2014

bluebells, Hampstead Heath, spring 2014

October 3, 2014

hollow and dancing

Last Sunday, after visiting the Isokon Gallery with a friend, we went for a walk on Hampstead Heath. Although I do know my way around it pretty well, there are still all sorts of little paths I’ve never been down before, and sometimes they take me off track from where I’m aiming at, which is what happened on Sunday. I was taking him to see the hollow tree, but I went down a new path and we managed to circumnavigate the entire glade the tree is in. Serves me right for getting cocky about knowing my way around.

Anyway, I’d been for a walk on the Heath a few days before, and taken photos then, including the hollow tree, so I thought I’d post some of those.

beech tree, Hampstead Heath
I love beech trees. At the end of August they started dropping their nuts, and for weeks I spent several peaceful moments sitting alone under the beech tree canopies, just listening to the pop-plop of the nut-cases falling to the ground and splitting open. I thought about foraging for them, but beech nuts only have a good season every 3-5 years, and a bit of internet research led me to find that the last good season was 2011 (which by all reports was spectacular), and this year the nuts have no meat on them. They still make a pleasing crunch when you walk over them, though.

tiny shoot, Hampstead Heath
Even as the season dies, there’s always a spurt of new life somewhere.

hollow tree, Hampstead Heath
Hello hollow.

dancing trees, Hampstead Heath
These trees, opposite the hollow tree, always look to me like they are dancing.

michaelmas daisies, Hampstead Heath
I always know it’s September when I see the michaelmas daisies. I love them.

Himalayan balsam, Hampstead Heath
This is Himalayan balsam, aka Policeman’s Helmet, Gnome’s Hatstand and (my favourite), Love-on-a-mountain. It is very pretty but very invasive because it can shoot its seeds up to seven metres, and bees adore it, which means that native plants don’t get pollinated. They actually have it under control on the Heath, and there aren’t that many plants, so when you see them it’s a nice surprise, because it is so pretty. The flowers and seedpods are edible, which is one way to deal with it (although I’ve not tried it myself), but as with any invasive plant you have to be careful not to tread the seedpods anywhere else. Probably best just to admire it from afar.

rosebay willowherb, Hampstead Heath
And this is rosebay willowherb, aka fireweed (because it grows well on burnt, damaged soil), which is also an invasive and also edible. I actually ate it earlier this year when the young leaves were out, very young leaves have a bit of a zingy citrus taste and were an interesting addition to salads. In my experience it has to be eaten as fresh as possible as the leaves got a bit tough after a day or two in the fridge, but they tasted OK chucked into a soup, so they weren’t wasted (it’s very high in nutrients, too!). I wanted to make some fireweed jelly this summer but again, despite its invasive nature, they keep it under control on the Heath, and I didn’t want to take all the blossoms from only a few plants because then no one else could enjoy them (not that this stopped somebody else from stripping them instead). There’s always next year.