I hardly dare say it after last year's deluge (and I will whisper very quietly) - but we need rain.
Over the last few days we have had some very strong winds and down on the lottie yesterday the soil was dust dry. Raking the ground to prepare for seed sowing, I found I was creating my own mini fen blow and was being enveloped in clouds of dust.
|In our garden, our favourite ornament- a beautiful, elegant heron, frequently found in the fen wetlands.|
Fen blows are peculiar to this area and of particular concern to farmers. Several hundred years ago, before drainage started in the 17th century, the fens comprised areas of marsh and wetland. Throughout the wetlands, were small islands of higher ground where villages developed. Hence, many of the place names end in -ea being derived from a Saxon word meaning island.
Although drainage of the fens meant areas of very fertile peat were made available for farming there were downsides.
One of these was shrinkage of the peat. This is most startlingly obvious just down the road from us at Holme fen, where a post, sunk into the ground in 1852 until just level with the surface, now stands 4 metres above ground. This is also why roads around here are sometimes several feet above the surrounding fields!
The other problem is fen blows, when strong winds create clouds of dust , blowing soil and along with it precious seed, off the fields and depositing it elsewhere, which just lately has been all over our windows, window-sills and garden furniture!
But there are exciting plans for large scale restoration of the fens.
I have written about the Great Fen Project before here.
Although this is a long term project, many of the plans are in progress already and their website
is full of interesting information and well worth a visit.
Meanwhile, not on the allotment, but in our garden, some of the beautiful plants in bloom at the moment.
beautiful broom in bloom and ...
(p. s, As I write the heavens have opened and there is a torrential downpour!)