A Spring Walk in St Pancras and Islington Cemetery

Well, Dear Readers, finally I have the bandwidth to write about my walk in the cemetery yesterday, as my assignment has been sent off and now I just have the exam to worry about (on 13th June, so keep your fingers crossed). This has been a very wide-ranging, demanding module, on all aspects of science from geology to quantum mechanics via environmental science, chemistry, biology and physics, so my brain has been very well stretched. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t ping back to its normal size over the summer.

Anyhow, we haven’t been to the cemetery for at least a month, and there has been another ‘changing of the guard’ as far as the plants are concerned. I was very pleased to see that the chaps in the cemetery are having a bash at ‘no-mow May’, at least in a few pockets of the lawns. The sound of strimming was pretty relentless in some areas, but there are still places where there are old graves where the plants grow long and wild.

No Mow May in action!

The horse-chestnuts are in full flower now, and at this time of year (before the leaf-miners get them) they look absolutely magnificent.

The buttercups and the cow parsley (Queen Anne’s lace) has taken over from the bulbs and lesser celandine.

Cow parsley in the woodland grave area

Buttercups always attract the smaller pollinators

I am much amused by the salsify, which seems to be pinging up all over the place. Where did it come from? It is so spikey and stately and somehow eccentric. There is something very medieval about it, to my eye.

The dog rose is in flower, and very pretty it is too. I love the way that the flowers start out blush pink and end up white.

We saw some butterflies too – a fresh new comma, a rather worn peacock and a very energetic male orange-tip who was much too fast to photograph.

Peacock (Aglais io)

Comma (Polygonia c-album)

The crack willow is exuding pollen from its catkins, and my husband is sneezing as a result…

And I suppose it was inevitable but the green space close to the stream and to the beehives is being dug up for graves. I guess it’s easier to do this here than in the woodier parts of the cemetery, but last year this was alive with butterflies.

The azaleas and rhododendrons are just coming into flower by the crematorium, and some of them are magnificent – just look at this orange one! These are not amongst my favourite plants, but they are very striking all the same.

No, what I like are those woody paths through dappled sunlight, where you barely meet a soul.

The clenched fists of the hogweed are unfurling, ready to take over from the cow parsley…

And in some places the buttercups and dandelions are putting on quite a show. It reminds me of the few drowsy summer days that I had as a child – on one occasion, we drove to Waltham Abbey and I remember laying down among the wild flowers and  watching all the insects moving through a miniature jungle. That’s really where Bugwoman was born, I think.

And finally, we were standing under these three plane trees when we heard the most extraordinary noise from very high up in the branches.

We’ve been watching ring-necked parakeets around here, and after a few minutes an adult flew off. I suspect that there’s a nest up there somewhere, and we will certainly keep an eye open next time we’re in the cemetery. Everyone seems to be producing babies at the moment, so why should the parakeets be an exception?

And to round off our trip, we saw this handsome crow. No doubt s/he will have babies to feed too.

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