Blackberries

The Friends and Other Events

Over the weekend The Friends of Sun Rising had their AGM.  It was a lovely day, with many gathered to listen to what has been going on, and to share ideas for the future.  Thank you to all who attended.  Thanks too to interfaith celebrant Melanie Sopp, who gave a talk on her experience of working as a funeral celebrant.

If you are not yet a subscribing Friend, or need to renew your subscription, do get in touch.  Or check the web page : https://sunrising.co.uk/friends/join.html.  A copy of the Minutes will be going out to all Friends who have email, and all those who asked for a copy by post.

The next date in our diary, and hopefully a date in yours, is our Bulb Planting day on Sunday 25 October.  This will be from 11 am – 1 pm.  There will be bulbs, wildflower seed packs, honey and cards for those who would like them – but if you do want bulbs, let us know, so we can make sure we have enough!

By then the colours of autumn will be everywhere.  At Sun Rising, they are just beginning to show, with scarlet rose hips, the viburnum and dogwood leaves beginning to turn, and the blackberries …

Blackberries

Blackberries

 

After the Mow

Harvest

Most commonly we are said to have four seasons, but being thoroughly involved in the landscape it seems evident to me that there are five: winter freezes, bringing dormancy and hibernation, spring is the time of waking, summer is the time of flowering, harvest is the time of fruiting and bringing what we sown, and autumn is the time of leaf fall and letting go.

They meander over the months of our year, but winter is often late November until late February when the hedgerows and snowdrops come into bloom with the first whispers of spring.  Summer takes over in early May and lasts until mid July, when harvest comes, lasting until the last of the warm evenings of September.

On such a reckoning we are in the midst of harvest, and at Sun Rising this is evident with the cutting of the wildflower meadow and tidying of burial areas.

After the Mow

After the Mow

It took us a week or so cutting, mowing, strimming, scything, and a weekend to rake it up.  In the wildflower meadow, where we are striving to keep the soil fertility low, it is crucial to gather up and remove the arisings; beneath the growing trees we do so less stringently and only to make sure it looks natural but not messy.  Our volunteer day on Saturday saw 20 sturdy and wonderful people, gloved and booted, wielding rakes, gathering up the hay.  It was a beautiful but hot day, and there were good breaks for drinks and picnic, with some lovely food brought and shared.  Thank you to all!

The burial ground looks quite different now.  After some rain this week, the stubble will green up.  We’ll tidy the paths in a week or so, then the final mow will take place in October, ensuring we are ready for the winter.

Ringlet Butterfly

Big Butterfly Count

A note to remind everyone that tomorrow, 17 July, is the Big Butterfly Count – an initiative of Butterfly Conservation to monitor how our butterfly numbers are doing across the land.  Do have a look at the website : Big Butterfly Count.  It takes just 15 minutes of your day.  Find somewhere to be, and sit quietly, calmly, enjoying the beauty of nature, and count what you see – then go online and submit your findings.  We’ll be doing it at Sun Rising throughout the day if you’d like to join us, but your own garden, or green space nearby, equally important!

Ringlet Butterfly

Ringlet Butterfly

 

Double Dart Moth

Double Darts and Other Wonders

While we have regular monthly moth surveys, on 27 June we held our first moth survey night open to all, led by Warwickshire county moth recorder David Brown.  With a good handful of families with loved ones laid to rest at Sun Rising, and another handful of regular mothers (that’s moth-ers), on the most perfectly warm and still summer night, the prospects looked good.  In fact, the results were outstanding, with over 70 species of large moth recorded, and many micromoths as well.

Perhaps the most exciting was the sighting of a double dart moth (Graphiphora augur), a moth that is struggling to maintain its presence in South Warwickshire.  With a sense of success, having found one double dart in a trap by the pond, there were half a dozen more at the trap in the NE corner of the site.  This picture is a little fuzzy, but it was taken on the night – many thanks to Scott, the mother and photographer.

Double Dart Moth

Double Dart Moth

At one of our regular moth survey nights ten days later, over 125 species were counted by Alan Prior and his team – many of which were not found at that previous event, and including two double darts.  This, I believe, brings our total species count of moths seen at Sun Rising to the fine total of 201, some of which haven’t been recorded in the area for many decades.  It’s a good start for a fledgling nature reserve and less than a year of serious moth records.  Thank you to all our wonderful surveyors!

Now, if I could only find someone to be as fastidious and knowledgeable about flies and beetles and spiders …

Carols at Sun Rising

Carols at Sun Rising

Over 130 people came to our carol concert at Sun Rising on Sunday last, and we were blessed with gentle dry weather throughout.  The choir were just marvellous, as were the mince pies, Christmas shortbread, and mulled wine, we shared afterwards.  We deeply appreciate the gift given us by the choir, not just of their music but the sharing and good will, thank you!  Thanks too to everyone who came along or supported in every way, bringing mince pies and the willingness to sing.

Carols at Sun Rising

Carols at Sun Rising

The choir was made up from Low Wimmin Singing and SYDNI Singers in Leamington Spa.  For more information about the choirs, do get in touch with Cathie Zara on cathiezara@gmail.com.

On top of the lovely energy, as a fundraising event, we made over £200 for The Friends of Sun Rising!  Thank you to all.

We’ll be at Sun Rising between 10 and 12.30 on Thursday 25 December, with mince pies and coffee, especially for those who are going to find Christmas Day difficult this year.

Dylan Thomas Evening

Not directly about Sun Rising, this is however an evening of Dylan Thomas poetry with donations collected for Oxfordshire hospices, organising by the Wychwood Poets.

http://allsortspoetry.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/celebrating-dylan-thomas-centenary-in.html

There will be readings of Dylan Thomas poems, and a few new poems, including one of mine, written in the old Welshman’s style and in his honour.

The date is Thursday 18 December, venue is the Blue Boar in Witney.  More details on the left hand panel when you click the link.  All are welcome.

Tree Planting Volunteers

Tree Planting

Each year at this time we are planting trees at Sun Rising.  This year, over 60 memorial trees are being planted in memory of loved ones buried or remembered at Sun Rising, the majority being planted on graves.  For many of the trees planted, family and friends come along, and either help with the planting or watch one of our team doing the work.

This year we have also planted almost three hundred saplings, both trees and shrubs, to extend the hedgerows along the lane and down the southern boundary.  For this, some two dozen volunteers came in to help with the planting.

Tree Planting Volunteers

Tree Planting Volunteers

The sense of community engendered at these events is wonderful.  Every person has a loved one buried or remembered at the Sun Rising, or works alongside us as caring professionals who also understand grief.  Over the coming years, it will be lovely to watch the little saplings grow.

Thank you to all the volunteers!

Hedgerow Haws

Armistice Day

However much we detest the justifications, apparent causes and consequences of war, as individuals striving to create peace in all that we do, at Sun Rising the 11 November gathering is an important point in our calendar of events.  This year, amidst windy wet days, we had soft grey stillness for the gathering, allowing a profound focus.  With no religious words spoken, the sense of acknowledgement, sorrow and respect, was poignant.  The sacred was evident, in whatever terms we may use to describe that.

Hedgerow Haws

Hawthorn berries, haws, in the hedgerow

The poem I read can be found on our War Memorial page: sunrising.co.uk/burialground/warmemorial.html

Guelder Rose

Diary Date : Carols at Sun Rising

We are delighted to have now confirmed our date for this year’s Carols at Sun Rising event.  It will be held on Sunday 14 December at 11 am.  You can check our Activity Days for information on this and other events.

I know it seems terribly early to think about Christmas, but I am letting you know the date, so you can put it into the diary, let family and friends know, then return again to the glorious beauty of the autumn’s colours.

In case you need a little persuading, there will again be warm mulled wine, mince pies, and the good company of friends old and new, singing traditional carols, listening to the choir performing lesser known carols, together with some non-religious winter songs too.  There will also be an opportunity to buy our Sun Rising Christmas cards, and of course jars of Sun Rising honey, the perfect winter gift.

OK, that’s enough Christmas for the time being.  Let’s return to the exhilarating beauty of autumn, the changing colours of the trees, and the dance of falling leaves …  The rich burgundy of the guelder rose is breathtaking.

Guelder Rose

Autumn colour of the Guelder Rose

Gardening for Wildlife Week

Gardening for Wildlife Week is 15 – 21 September this year.  This is an awareness-raising initiative between the RHS and the Wildlife Trusts, as you can see on their website at http://www.wildaboutgardensweek.org.uk , keen to get people involved and happily exploring the potential for habitat in their own patch.  Have a look at our local OWLs event too, by putting Oxhill into the events search towards the bottom of the page.  We’ll be making insect houses out of pretty much anything we can find …