June 19th – I swung past the island on the Warrenhouse at 221 Hay, where the Lichfield Road meets Barracks Lane. I was heading to Stonall, but the display of flowers on the verge caught my eye.

I’m not sure who plants the verge here, whether it’s the garden centre or vets – both nearby – but it’s always beautiful, no matter what time of year you look. 

At the moment, poppies are the order of the day. Huge poppies, of several different colours. But other flowers are in the mix too, and it’s just a wonderful, chaotic riot of colour.

I’m sure many drivers pass this by unnoticed; I commend you not to. It’s a fantastic thing, so why not take a look next time you’re in the area?

November 6th – As I’ve noted here before, I very much like Darlaston’s war memorial. Intimate, sombre and peaceful, it sits in its own sensory garden, a little oasis of calm in the middle of a Black Country town.

On this grey and foul morning, it cheered me as I passed, so I decided to record it for posterity.

I’ve never noticed the bench with the poppies on before. Wonder how that came about? It’s very beautiful.

August 15th – A run into Birmingham in the afternoon on an errand saw me take a route down through Witton Lakes. In the small patch of grass that links Witton to Brookvale Park, a curious thing: a metre-wide, undulating band of wheat and wildflowers has been planted. It’s full of bugs and bees, and poppies and cornflowers proliferate. 

It’s a nice thing – and the lakes were as lovely as ever, too.

My compliments to the people who planned and planted it.

June 21st – At Stonywell, between Farewell and Longdon Green, my attention was snagged by a bright red flash as I sped past. Doubling back, I found a rare treat: a field of oilseed rape overcome by bright red poppies.

It’s beautiful, and stunning. I love the countryside of Staffordshire – it’s always surprising.

June 12th – The macro on the Sony doesn’t seem as good as the Nikon, but again, the light was horrid. I have a sneaking suspicion I’m not being fair here. Time will tell, I guess.

The small clump of huge poppies was a surprise near the marl quarry at Stubbers Green, as was the first foxglove of the year beyond the wire not far away.

Come on summer, it doesn’t have to be like this…

November 10th – I make no apology for featuring this war memorial twice in one week. Darlaston is always beautiful and poignant, but after Remembrance Sunday, even more so.

The crosses, flowers and wreaths tell their own stories of loss, valour and gratitude.

You can’t fail to be moved by it.

October 31st – Since it’s coming up to Remembrance, it’s a good time to feature these poppies, on the railings of Kings Hill Park in Darlaston. They make me smile every time I see them; beautifully made, I think they’re beautiful, and they make me smile overtime I see them.

June 28th – At the Sandyway island on the A461 Walsall Road, just south of Lichfield, there’s a field of maturing oilseed rape stretching over to Maple Hayes, with poppies interspersed though it. It’s not as impressive as the fields were just up the hill last year, but it’s not bad; those fields have this year rotated to wheat.

I think the crop may be organic, as mixed in are all manner of wildflowers including thistles, poppies, ox eye daisies, cow parsley, and a purple blue flower I don’t recognise.

The most puzzling thing is the steel box marked ‘BT Property CC223’ hanging loosely on the gate post; it’s not fixed and can be opened, but theres little inside aside from the remnants of a mechanism in the lid. 

I have a feeling it may be a cash box from an old-style payphone kiosk. Anybody know for sure? It’s certainly an odd thing in an unusual place…

June 21st – I think the poppies growing so beautifully on the traffic island  in Clayhanger must have been planted, possibly as part of the Great War commemorations this year. It’s fair to say that whether by accident or design, they’re really beautiful and a lovely display.

If you’re passing, do take a look, it’s magical.

December 11th – In the midst of an industrial Darlaston winter day, flowers. Outside the derelict, doomed Kings Hill Methodist Church, a beautiful rose grows from the scrub, bringing welcome colour on a grey day. The building is thought to have been sold to a developer, and may be under threat of demolition, which would be a shame.

Not 10 metres away, flowers of more permanence – metal poppies complete the detail on beautiful new railings, erected as part of the refurbishment of Kings Hill Park. They are gorgeous. The designer should be very proud.

Brightness can be found even on the dullest days.