Ss Simon & Jude, Cockshutt
As we reach the end of June, the churchyard looks incredibly tidy; the lawns were recently mown, and the prolonged glorious summer weather, has curtailed its growth. Even so, there’s still much to see, if you know where to look!
Firstly, as you walk along the churchyard path to the main church door, quietly passing the guardians of old resting peacefully, you are overcome with the heady scent from the wonderfully huge Portuguese Laurel (Prunus lusitanica) as its racemes of highly fragrant but tiny white flowers hang from its branches. With its dark, glossy green leaves and red stalks, it is a thing of beauty.
Walk around to the north-western end of the Church and admire the Irish Yew (Taxus baccata “Fastigiata”), making up for lost time now that the overgrowth of past years has been cleared; the young, bright green shoots, a sharp contrast to its natural dark green. Protected in its centre, upright and tall, stand the remains of a once a beautiful gravestone.
If you make your way down to the wildlife area, you will see the wood pile nestled among the nettles, so adored by the caterpillars of our native butterflies. Listen carefully and you will hear the gentle rustling of False Oat grass (Arrhenatherum elatius), Common Bent (Agrostis capillaris) andRough Meadow Grass (Poa trivialis) as they swish and sway in the gentle breeze.
There’s much to see in the boundary hedge on the south-eastern side of the churchyard; Holly (Ilex aquifolium) jostles for space along with English Yew (Taxus baccata), Elder (Sambucus nigra) and Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna). Wait patiently and you might see a Blackbird scurrying out from the undergrowth, a juicy worm in its orange bill!
As you move on towards the boundary wall, past the Memorial Garden, you are greeted by climbing Ivy ((Hedera Ilex) whilst down by the path, you will see the diminutive Ivy-leaved Toadflax (Cymbalaria muralis) with its lime green ivy-shaped leaves, tiny mauve flowers and red stems.
Pause in the shade of the treasured English Yewand enjoy the show put on by the scampering squirrels and raucous crows with their ominous black hoods. Occasionally, acrobatic Blue Tits are seen; blink and they are gone as is the Dragonfly with sunlight glimmering on its wings!