Thursday 15 June 2017

Oh what a mess!

Worsbrough Cemetery May 2017
Take care of the weeds and the plants will take care of themselves
Normally when I arrive for my monthly stint at Worsbrough cemetery my spirits are uplifted by this beautiful place. Sometimes they plunge to the ground when I hear the comment above - or something similar. “What a shame” is a common variation.
The people of Barnsley are lovely kind generous folk but compliments are not on their agenda and most don’t really care for natural gardening. 
On my visit this May I was feeling nostalgic. It is a time of the year when the cemetery looks particularly lovely. My thoughts went ahead to the question as to whether it will it be ever the same?
I Informed the cemetery guardians six months ago that 2017 would be my final year. I started C1995 and have returned every single month doing my best to contain it. Three acres or so of cemetery is no mean task. I have enjoyed every minute and my efforts have been rewarded. It is by no means pristine - that is not possible without considerable labour. 

It is a long drive to Barnsley and now I have passed three quarters of a century the dream has subsided. I do hope others can take on the mantle.

Clothed with garden plants
The valerian was very popular at Chelsea four years ago
I like to cover the ground with self sown vegetation.
These are not weeds
The birch were self sown too
The only Euphorbia stigiana in Barnsley thrives here in the shade

With little help from me the poached egg plant which is annual returns every year and keeps the ground weed free 

The hellebores were already in flower in January 
It's a good time to see the aquilegias
Frothy heucherella remains a compact clump and sisyrinchium spreads by seed

Pink panther prowls
The grass paths are cut by a contractor
It might look overgrown but it is better than the original six foot high brambles

Heavy herbaceous tops might get cut back in Winter but not these

Looking back to the cemetery gate

I have not shown you the older and wilder lower half of the cemetery today


  1. I bet it is a wildlife haven - I hope someone else takes it on. Have you ever had a survey of wildlife carried out. The results could encourage someone to guarantee its future.

    1. You are right Sue. It is a haven of wildlife! But fortunately no rabbits and moles. An old resident many years ago always insisted it was devoid of wildlife. He was wrong then and he would be now!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks PDJ. Never have had a comment from a jockey before! (Just kidding)

  3. It is a huge place, and so very beautiful! I imagine I could get lost there for an entire afternoon, just wandering the grass paths, exploring, pondering, maybe sitting somewhere in the sun for a bit. Exactly my kind of place.

    1. Perhaps where I have gone wrong is not trying to get seats - there are none and no-one sees it as a place to sit and relax. The much smaller Bolton Percy churchyard has two seats and I am often delighted to see people sitting. Some are there for solace.

  4. The whole thing is a credit to you Roger, I am sure you will be greatly missed when you leave. Parts of my garden (if not most!) could well be described as a "mess" but at least I only have to weed round the edges.

    1. When I started Rick it was just going to be a demonstration around the existing paths but it did not work out that way
      I know from your blog that your mess i anything but.
      I thought you might have grown the plant featured in last post's quiz?...

    2. Hi Roger, I know that myrmecochory is the dispersal of seed by ants, the best known example I suppose being cyclamen, but I just couldn't come up with the identity of the seed head until your comment that I might grow the plant. I have to go with Trillium and just hope this is correct, if it is, the answer was literally staring me in the face!

    3. I guessed trillium when Peter sent the picture - wrong
      Follow the blood coloured sap! - after Peter cut the leaf in the first picture. I will be publishing the lovely white flower!

    4. I think you have pretty much led me there, not grown it for years although it would very much fit into the scheme of things it has to be Sanguinaria canadensis.

    5. As I said on my last post Rick, no comment!

  5. Replies
    1. You have cleverly transposed the question in the last post to a summary of this one!

  6. Hi Roger, I sent a link re Worsbrough Cemetary to the Barnsley Chronicle. They're very keen to speak to you with a view to writing something for the paper. Please contact Katia Harsden at the local paper. Regards, Nicola (a fan)

    1. Thank you Nicola - any publicity that alerts people to the possibility of the cemetery returning to six foot high brambles is appreciated.
      Barnsley Chronicle can initially contact me on and I can then supply my private email and phone number!
      I am actually really worried about the future of the cemetery. I am now half way through the period of notice I have given them and I am not aware of any consideration as to what follows.
      My own methods are quite unique and I know of no-one else who manages such huge areas as I do with relatively small time inputs. In this case about four hours every month.
      My basic philosophy is to take care of the weeds and the plants will take care of themselves. There is of course much more to this simple concept than knowing the difference between a plant and a weed. For example tree seedlings and suckers are ever ready to take over and what I do is not merely spraying!
      One of my aims with the blog is to leave a record of my methods which are plastered all over it and particularly in my glyphosate posts!
      A younger person could attend my monthly visit to get the idea and be shown what I do. Worsbrough do pay and presumably would pay a contractor. Beware that none of them would do as I do without proper instruction. Unskilled sprayers would cause havoc! So would most professionals.
      And none sprayers will lose control!

      I visited my other cemetery at Bolton Percy yesterday and in recent years it has never looked so magnificent. They have anticipated my eventual demise and a very keen and capable team of volunteers take the work off my shoulders and I just do the spraying. Yesterday one of them had even done some spraying. I was delighted with the excellent job. It is really very easy if you have just a little experience and initial direction.

      Katie Harsden might like to read more of my Worsbrough posts by clicking the link in the column. She might find the Worsbrough fisherman tale interesting.
      Thanks again Nicola. Nice to know I have a fan!


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