Ferns

Ferns really come into their own at this time of year, looking fresh and lovely while many flowering plants are dying back. I’m finding them hard to identify though! Two easy ones are maidenhair spleenwort and wall rue, both small but impressive for their ability to cling to seemingly bare walls. Male fern and soft shield fern…

October 1st

In the vegetable patch, plenty of weeds are enjoying the autumn sunshine. Daisies, foxgloves, catsear and nipplewort are still in flower in the grounds of Moorhaven while the hedgerows sport a mix of late specimens of summer flowers, like campions and rough chervil, and autumn flowering cyclamens, marjoram and water pepper. The cyclamen is an…

More things that look like cow parsley

Wild angelica is majestic in late summer. Tall and strong like hemlock water dropwort (which is over now), it grows in similarly damp places. There are several specimens beside the small stream where Leigh Lane meets Wrangaton Road. Apart from the late flowering season, distinguishing features are baggy sheaths where the leaf stalks meet the main…

The end of August

A mix of late-summer flowers and autumnal fruits, with hedge bindweed stealing the show. Climbers like bryony and vetch are still hanging on, while persicaria, knotgrass, knapweed and the magically-named enchanter’s nightshade are in their prime. Early traces of autumn include blackberries, rose hips, hazelnuts and dandelion clocks.

Docks

I’ve been trying to tell apart the different docks and it is getting easier as the fruits develop. Four species are common around here. Broad-leaved dock is the most familiar and probably the one you reach for to neutralise nettle stings. Note the frilly ‘tepals’ around the fruit or ‘wart’. Curled dock has distinctly curled…

Flowers, fruits and flies

Lots of pink on the last day of July: rosebay willowherb and great willowherb,  brambles, buddleia,   knapweed, anad persicaria. Hogweed provides food and shelter for numerous insects, including this bee-mimicking drone fly and a relative of the house fly called graphomyia. These caterpillars emerging from their silky nest are larvae of the parsnip moth. Their usual host…

Biodiversity

I counted over 90 different species currently flowering between Moorhaven and Green Lane, starting with the weeds in our garden (1-36), progressing to Moorhaven communal gardens where Perforate St John’s Wort (37) and Dark Mullein (38) were growing in a weedy border (they could have been planted there originally), and then via Wrangaton Road to the…

Dandelions

Dandelions can reproduce asexually, without pollination, which means that a random mutation can create a new ‘microspecies’. There are several hundred of these microspecies but all have the familiar yellow flowers, toothed leaves and sappy stems. Despite their reputation as a persistent weed, dandelions have benefits for gardens attracting bees, moths and butterflies, particularly early in…

June

June flew by too fast! New arrivals in the hedgerows were bistort and common valerian and numerous yellow flowers like dandelions. I’ll deal with those in another blog. Figwort has interesting flowers but is easy to overlook among the luxuriant summer growth Black medick and lesser trefoil growing side by side makes it easy to spot their differences. Note the cylindrical clusters of seeds…

the end of May

It’s all change as spring gives way to summer, the bluebells give a final flourish and the bracken unfurls. Campions, buttercups and cow parsley are at their best and pink purslane is still going strong. Look out for garlands of tiny black bryony flowers   You can pick the top few leaves of young stinging…

Things that look like cow parsley, part 2

Cow parsley is almost over and is gradually being superseded by rough chervil. Rough chervil has similar flowers, and bracteoles but no bracts as with cow parsley. Its distinctive characteristics are hairy stems that are often purple – cow parsley stems are smooth and green – and drooping flower buds. Ground elder is dominating the…