Raised Bed

THIS FLAGGY piece of sandstone on the edge of the raised bed was probably shattered by frost during the winter. The fragments have created a miniature landscape, surrounded by a lush forest of buckler-leaved sorrel, a bitter-tasting herb which likes this well-drained sunny spot.

The wolf spider is at home here too. Two females alternate between sunning themselves on the mini-cliff below and retreating into shady crevices to cool off. I say females because they’re both carrying egg cocoons and, as far as I know, it’s the female who provides the parental care. The cocoon, of dimpled spider’s silk, is over twice the size of the spider’s thorax. I notice one touching its cocoon with its back legs and I’m guessing that she was testing the temperature or perhaps the humidity of the bundle of eggs that she is incubating.

A group of House Sparrows are enjoying a dust-bath in the fine tilth of one of the veg beds – right where we sowed the perpetual spinach!

By the way, these drawings were made with dip pen and Daler-Rowney Calli ink. Although this is described on the label as ‘non-clogging, pigmented, waterproof calligraphy ink’ it does take – in places anyway – rather a long time to dry so that it ran into the watercolour wash. I didn’t have this problem when using my ArtPen with Noodler’s ink to draw the Aquilegia but I was keen to use the ‘inkiness’ of dip pen for my drawing of the shattered sandstone.