Down by the roadside doesn’t sound quite as bucolic as down by the riverside, but here we are. You might be surprised by what gems of nature you can find on a roadside verge. Since the 1930s it is estimated that we have lost 97% of our wildflower meadows. With agricultural fields becoming patches of pesticide soaked monoculture crops our native wildflowers are clinging to the edges.
Many rare wildflowers are to found on our roadside verges such as betony, ragged-Robin, orchids and fen ragwort. Plantlife have produced a report about wildflowers on verges which you can download and read here.
However, even here this precious ecosystem is in danger. Understandably local councils need to ensure visibility for drivers, but Plantlife feel that they are cutting too much and too soon. They would like councils to wait until the flowers have seeded before cutting back. You can petition your local council from Plantlife’s website here.
I took some photographs of just a small section of verge recently. I didn’t find anything rare, but it was buzzing with bees and looked so pretty.
I believe it was mostly cow parsley (or one of its carrot relatives), buttercups, red clover and a variety of grasses.
The verge is augmented by a hedgerow full of bramble flowers and dog roses. At other times of the year this hedge has blackthorn and hawthorn blossoms.
So the next time you stop your car in a lay-by or take a stroll along a road side verge, take a look and see what you can find.
If the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain, what do you get if you sit on the plain? Answer at the end of the post.
So in the interest of botanical curiosity and nothing at all to do with idleness, I didn’t mow the lawn for the month of May and this is what grew. Firstly there was a lot of Ribwort plantain, Plantago lanceolata. The tiny flowers attract small butterflies and moths and in the autumn the seeds provide food for birds. The leaves are used in herbal teas and are said to be good for relieving coughs.
There were a few different types of grass that I have not had time to identify. The long grasses with their attractive seed heads somehow seem evocative of carefree childhood summers. Unless of course you spent a childhood cursed by hayfever.
Grasses are flowering plants that are wind pollinated. Their pollen is very small so that it can be carried on the wind and also into the respiratory tracts of humans, triggering an immune system response that causes the sufferer flu-like symptoms.
It is thought that there are around 10,000 different species of grass in the world ranging from the turf that we mow on our lawns to the mighty forests of bamboo. Their seeds, known as grains, form the basis of most of the crops that we grow for human and animal consumption.
Answer: A grassy arse! Apologies to my Spanish friends.
Now that we are at the beginning of May I thought I would just quickly post some photos of what has been flowering recently. Starting with the lilac.
The lilac contrasts nicely with the yellow laburnum blossoms.
The Spanish/hybrid bluebells have been posing with broom, tulips and primroses.
Purple bee lavender.
The bladder campion is starting to flower.
The cuckoo pint looks interesting.
Forget-me-nots and strawberries are flowering all along the path around my alpine trough ….
…which is also doing well.
And the dog violets are still gracing the lawn.
<pre style=”background: none; border: none; padding: 0;”><textarea style=”background:#f0f0f0;border: solid 1px #cccccc; color: #777777; font-size:100%; height: 50px; margin:auto; text-align: left; padding: 7px 0 2px 5px; display: block; width: 90%;”><div align=”center”><a href=”http://www.ramblingratz.wordpress.com” rel=”nofollow” title=”May Flowers”><img src=”https://ramblingratz.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/lilac-200417.jpg” alt=”May Flowers” style=”border: none; height: auto; width: 200px;” /></a></div></textarea></pre>
So, spring seemed to burst into life before being hit by an icy blast again. Here are some of the things that came out in the sunshine. I will start with the dark purple tulips that I planted.
The comma butterfly posed nicely for me, while an orange tip butterfly thwarted my every effort.
The holly blue came out rather overexposed, but I was just grateful that I got a shot of it.
There were hoverflies, I think this is a Marmalade Hoverfly.
I thought that this was a sort of hoverfly, but it seems it is a sawfly.
I think this is a type of solitary bee.
Pretty sure this is an Ashy Mining Bee.Bee enjoying the last of the flowering currant.
I was rather pleased with this shot of a buff tailed bumblebee in flight. Sometimes I get lucky.Some ladybirds were getting friendly with each other. Unfortunately, as they are non-native harlequins, they aren’t friendly to anything else.
Weeds? I don’t seen any weeds, just pretty flowers that feed our pollinators.
And finally, here is the lilac bush taken by flash at night. It gives off the most lovely scent day and night.
Who would want to be a fly?
If you could fly you’d be a bee.
Cried the bee-fly, “Not so! And why?
Just leave us bee-flies be.
We have fat fluffy bodies and one set of wings,
And a very long tongue for sticking in things.”
I have blogged about bee-flies before, here. However, to sum up; these are Dark-edged Bee-Flies Bombylius major. If you see some you can record your sightings here.
I had a discussion with a Twitter friend about how they seem to be particularly fond of blue flowers, so of course one decided to be the exception that proves the rule.
Sometimes they just want to sunbathe on a leaf.
Pareidolia, the phenomenon in which the human mind sees a familiar object (usually a face) in a random pattern. I recently took this photo of a birch polypore on a standing dead birch tree and felt that it resembled an elderly muppet with its false teeth removed. An American friend was reminded of a bitten into jelly and peanut butter sandwich.
I think we can all agree that this fallen tree resembles an elephant lurking amongst the trees.
Only one more week until astronomical spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Let’s see what is blooming; the cherry plum blossom is still clinging to the trees.
The cream primroses have been joined by purple ones.
The lilac buds progress.
The dwarf narcissi in pots are flowering.
However, the big daffodils in the garden are still thinking about it.
The yellow crocus has outlived its purple cousins. It has also avoided being eaten by sparrows, I have been informed that they have a penchant for yellow petals.
The forsythia gets ever more yellow.
The quince is going strong.
Newcomers include grape hyacinths.
The flowering currant.
For those of you who remember the pinnacle of my gardening prowess, the alpine trough, here it is.
The cherry plum tree has started to blossom. It is not yet in its full glory, but with bad weather forecast I thought I ought to capture it while I can.
The snowdrops, quince, primrose and lilac buds are still going, though the crocuses are past their best now. There were some huge bumblebee queens buzzing about the mahonia, sadly they had made themselves scarce by the time I had fetched my camera.
Vernalization – Whereby a prolonged period of cold (winter) induces plants to produce flowers in the spring. It’s all kicking off folks. It starts with the snowdrops.
The lawn has been covered with crocuses for a couple of weeks now.
However, they will only open up if there is sunshine.
I blinked and nearly missed it.
There was even a yellow crocus this year.
Primrose looking prim.
Forsythia having a serious think about flowering.
Quince, looking fancy.
Finally, the lilac is coming into bud.
The weather in the UK this winter has been somewhat variable. I think this might be confusing the winter flowers. Last week the garden snowdrops looked like this:
This morning, not much change. It is as if they pulled back their sepal curtains a crack and said, “Nope. Not coming out.”
The crocuses looked as though they were going to carpet the lawn with purple again this year. However, they seem to have been battered back into the ground by the wind and rain apart from a few still heroically standing.
Oddly the crocuses growing in the cracks in the path seem to be faring better as they caught some snowflakes this morning.You might also like: Early Spring Flowers – Vol1 and Snowdrops and Crocuses
This weekend, 28-30th January, in the UK is the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch 2017. You can find out more and download a free pack from their website here.
Looming out of the fog is this abandoned old house. Its plaque informs us that it is dated from 1884 and named Clifford Place.
Incidentally, 1884 was the date of the Post Office Protection Act, part of which made it an offence to set fire to post boxes.
“Protection of Post Offices, Postal Packets, and Stamps.
Placing injurious substance in or against letter boxes.
3. A person shall not place or attempt to place in or against any post office letter box any fire, any match, any light, any explosive substance, any dangerous substance, any filth, any noxious or deleterious substance, or any fluid, and shall not commit a nuisance in or against any post office letter box, and shall not do or attempt to do anything likely to injure the box, appurtenances, or contents.
Any person who acts in contravention of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding ten pounds, and on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment, with or without hard labour, for a period not exceeding twelve months.”
You have been warned.
Trees, this only really works with deciduous trees. Firstly, the tree by Victoria House.
The horsechestnut tree by the field.
Horse Chestnut Tree with May flowers
The tree in a nearby street. I’m cheating here as the tree does not change, just the sky.
The waning crescent moon appeared to be speared by the branch of this London Plane tree. Perhaps it wanted to add it to its collection of baubles.
Dawn broke on Saturday morning to another delectably frigid, frosty landscape.
It wasn’t so cold that the little stream was prevented from babbling along its way.
The bare trees do make for lovely silhouettes against the wintry sunrise.
January 12th 2017 saw the first full moon of the year, the Full Wolf Moon.
I took my usual blurry images of it as clouds scudded across the night sky.
These high cirrus clouds on a cold night form ice crystals, these refract and relect the sunlight bouncing off the moon. It is these that form the halos that you can see in these photos.
And of course the moon always looks good and spooky when viewed through bare branches blowing in the breeze.
I was rather taken with the way the raindrops sparkled on the succulent in the torchlight.
It’s everybody’s favourite; the field!
Peeking into the field.
The field’s hedgerow and verge.
The Bulmers Cider woodpecker sculpture isn’t subject to the vagaries of the season, but does make a pleasing foreground for the changing skies. Interestingly it started and ended 2016 shrouded in fog.
However, the small copse of trees nearby changes pleasingly with the seasons.
First in the series of photographs of similar scenes throughout 2016; Hereford Cathedral and the River Wye.
The other side of the bridge.