Seasonally Challenged in the Heat



The National Hydrangea Collection, Derby 

It has been a scorcher so far this summer and many flowers are ahead of their season.  Here at the National Hydrangea Collection in the walled garden of Darley Abbey Park they opened the gates to the public several weeks earlier than usual.

As always the collection presents a wide menu of colours and varieties, big blousy heads rubbing shoulders with more delicate petals of others. The Collection has for the past 10 years been cared for by a team of dedicated volunteers.  They have restored what was a ‘lost’ collection to a wonderful display.

I think this year they have had there work has perhaps been particularly difficult. The record wet winter cannot have helped and whilst it was not the coldest the few cold snaps were rather deep.  As we know since the start of spring we have had rapidly increasing temperatures and virtually continuous sunshine.

It has had an impact. Whilst we benefit from an earlier display there have been some downsides.  There are more than a few spaces where plants have been lost. Overall the display is healthy but some do seem to be suffering from lack of water….. the grass between  the displays is testament to the drought.  Likewise some species have nearly finished there flowering cycle and other yet to start with many at that in-between stage.  Still a great display so here is a short virtual tour which I hope you will enjoy…


24th July

(C) David Oakes 2018


Hydrangea Season again……


National Hydrangea Collection, Darley, Derby

The new season for Hydrangea’s is upon us….the blooms are just starting to produce the rich cushions of petals above the dark green foliage.  The weather over the past few weeks has been far from kind, so in a gap in the rains and whilst the clouds broke just a little, I thought I would see how this years blooms were doing.

The National Hydrangea Collection is hidden within an old walled garden.  Located at Darley Abbey Park, Derby and is perhaps one of Derby’s best kept secrets. One time Derby was a mass of flowers across the summer but sadly our council, in its so called wisdom, has cut the Parks and Gardens budget to near zero.  Truth is if it wasn’t for a dedicated bunch of volunteers this collection would have vanished….it is sad as Derby was the location for the first ever Public Park and has until recently an enviable record on maintain some great parks and open spaces.

The best Blooms are yet to come ……so with luck and some good weather I will try and pop back, just hoping that this spell of bad weather does not cause too much damage.

6th August

(C) David Oakes 2017


A Moving Tribute……The Poppies come home


The Weeping Window…

In 2014 a spectacular display was unveiled at the Tower Of London.  It was a special tribute to those who lost their lives in the 1914-18 First World War. It was indeed a unique and moving tribute…one that the nation took very much to its heart.  Such was the emotion and interest that it created that is was decided that in the years between 2014 and 2018 that the memorial had to be shared with the Nation as a whole. A ‘Tour’ of major cities and significant locations was created.

What is special is that it is now on display in Derby…in fact you can say The Poppies have come home.  The concept was the  partnership of Artist Paul Cummins and Designer Tom Piper and the thousands of ceramic Poppies were designed and made in Derby


The Silk Mill, Derby

Cascading down from the bell tower of the Silk Mill, the poppies are draped around the base of the tower. The Poppies literally pop out at you, a little larger than life on thin stalks the provide a graceful display….a display that visitors can get  close to and feel personally very much part of the tribute…

(Poppies – The Weeping Window are on display till Sunday July 23rd and are part of a number of other 14-18 NOW events in Derby)

The Silk Mill itself is a also a significant part of Derby’s history. It was built between 1717 & 1722.  A revolutionary Silk Spinning Mill automatically creating Silk thread from raw Silk.  Located by the River Derwent it is now one of a number of Mills that are part of the Derwent Valley World Heritage Site.

The Silk Mill, like many mills of its age has had a checked history being adapted for use by  many trades.  It was partially destroyed by fire, rebuilt and pressed into vital service during the 1st WW….one part grinding Corn whilst another manufactured Medical supplies.  In more recent times it has been an Industrial Museum but even that has had regular misfortunes due to Local Council cuts to expenditure.

Maybe the Poppies are signalling better times for the Silk Mill as Lottery funding has been awarded for the museum to be revamped and reopened  (I think) in 2020.

DOI_2724_00064qq The Silk Mill and River Derwent, Derby 

(part of the World Heritage Site)

15th June

(C) David Oakes 2017


Maybe…..the Last


Darley Abbey Park, Derby

Yesterdays high winds,  and overnight our first frost of the year, has made a significant change to the woodlands about us here in Derby.  The colour is now stronger in many of our trees, mainly the beech varieties, whilst others have just shed their leaves.

The River Derwent is very still, hardly a ripple and no noticeable current to mar its dark waters..


Darley Woods are not our regular haunt (only because other woods are nearer for our daily walkies).  So each time we stretch our legs in the Park we have to keep reminding ourselves just how lucky we are, this woodland oasis is less the half a mile from the City Centre….


On a still day no sounds seem to travel into these parts, tranquillity reins supreme, just the bark of the odd Happy Pooch enjoying a free run.

Soon all that will be left are leaves….and soon not even they will remain as a reminder of Autumn.


As for tomorrows weather outlook….it could well be snow or again rain or maybe just another sunny day.  Lets wait and see.

19th November

(C) David Oakes 2016

Weekly Photo Challenge – Boundaries


The Rood Screen, Derby Cathedral

Rood Screens are not unique to Derby Cathedral.  Churches and Cathedrals  over the centuries have had Rood Screens.  They are used to separate the congregation from the Choir and Alter…a boundary between the people and the ‘business’ end of the building.

Boundaries can be very real, other perceived as existing, some as symbols and warnings…. even social barriers.

The Rood Screen above is though unique in its own right.  It is the work of Master Craftsman and Blacksmith Robert Bakewell. Constructed in the early 1700 (for the sum of £157) it is just one of Bakewell’s ironwork construction that can be found around Derbyshire.

I hope you like this as my contribution to this weeks challenge Boundaries (

4th October

(C) David Oakes 2015