A late winter… “Then and now”

I was a little anxious about starting the ‘Then and Now’ posts with ‘Winter’ images, but as spring now seems to have declared itself as a false start and the chill winds of Eastern Europe have blown in, I can now comfortably post them without them appearing too incongruously out of time.

Below is a montage of chilly winter images, including the Green Man (more of him and Wassailing next winter) that appears in the ‘Apples and Orchards’ section of the book, plus an extract that describes the not so dormant winter period. I have also added a winter poem by somebody called Shakespeare.

Thatchers_book_pp01-136_FINAL.indd

THE CIDERMAKING YEAR:
WINTER
Winters in Somerset are not usually harsh, but in the
dark depths of January the spring can seem a long
way off. In the orchard, this is the time when the trees
rejuvenate, their roots pulling nutrients up into the
dormant tree ready for new growth, and it is the time
when the orchard manager tends to the trees, pruning
and planting.
Pruning is an essential job, especially in bush
orchards where trees need to be kept in the best
possible health. An unpruned tree will yield less
fruit than a tree that has been carefully cut back in
the winter, and pruning has been a valued skill –
almost an art form – since the days when Roman
fruit growers left their pruning knives lying around
for us to find. The aim is to focus the tree’s energy
on producing fruit rather than on growing, and to
give the fruit access to the sunlight that will help
it develop from blossom to ripe apple, so untidy
growth is removed and the branches trimmed so as
to encourage growth in particular directions. Treeplanting
too takes place at this time of year – once
an arduous job that would take weeks but now, as we
have seen, a whole lot easier.

A poem for Winter…

Blow, blow, thou winter wind
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.

Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most freindship if feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

Freeze, freeze thou bitter sky,
That does not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As a friend remembered not.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

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2 responses to “A late winter… “Then and now”

  1. Beautiful images, Neil – and I think you did the right thing starting with winter – for many reasons, not the least of which being that spring does not start until the Equinox next Saturday. Reblogging now! xxx

  2. Reblogged this on ALIEN AURA'S BLOG: IT'LL BLOW YOUR MIND! and commented:
    Neil Phillips is an extremely talented local photographer, a member of Ghost Weed and a fabulous friend. This is a lovely post; do read it – and feast your eyes upon Neil’s montage of images/photos.

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