Wednesday, 1 September 2010

God's acre (and the butterflies' too)

If we were butterflies, the picture above would be bliss. People often write and talk about creating butterfly gardens, but the result seldom tends to be more than a buddleia or two. Very effective they are, but not a patch on this wonderful spread of scabious, tansy and other wild flowers at Patterdale churchyard in the Lake District.

Penny and I were there over Bank Holiday, scoping out a walk which I'm doing with a group of Guardian readers the weekend after next. It made a lovely conclusion to four hours of pottering beside Ullswater after the elegant journey across the lake to Howtown in the steamer Raven. As well as the Small Tortoiseshell above, (relative of the star of Radha's film, two posts below), there were plentiful Peacocks and this Red Admiral, below. Its white fringe suggests fairly recent hatching but the tear in its right hindwing shows how troubled a butterfly's life can be. This one has taken a bit of a hit early in its adult career.

Graveyards - God's acre - have one other butterfly advantage. In fine weather, the insects like the warmth of sunlit memorial stones. There were three of these in a row at Patterdale, each with a Peacock sunbathing on the lichen-dappled inscription. In Greece you will sometimes find graves, both ancient and modern, with a picture of a butterfly; the insects are called psyche in Greek and often symbolise the soul fluttering away from the body to a permanently sunlit world (or possibly somewhere else hot).

By the way, you can see in the background of the scabious picture that work is taking place on the church. There's an interesting article about this on  (although its picture of the churchyard was clearly taken just after a short-back-and-sides mow). They would be delighted with any help for their appeal. Penrith Methodists have given £7000 - a generous example of ecumenical working. There's a form you can download online, or you can send a cheque made out to the Friends of St Patrick's Church Roof Appeal to the church treasurer Pat Johnson  at Serendip, Glenridding, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 0PL e-mail:

I'm very pleased, incidentally, that I've somehow managed to find a way to turn the web and email addresses above into links. Serendipitous, like Pat Johnson's (and my in-laws') house name.


Brit said...

Lovely. Martin, did you get the email I sent on Tuesday regarding The Dabbler?

MartinWainwright said...

Hi there Mr Dabbler. I got the message and will certainly do a mothy post. Sorry for the delay - checking all today's different ways of communicating takes (me) an age.
To anyone else reading this: check out The Dabbler? It's fun.
All warm wishes