November Colour

After so many storms there doesn’t seem to be many colourful autumnal leaves left on the trees. However, there is still autumn colour to be found. The smoke tree seems to have managed to retain most of its leaves, sheltered by the conifers.Photo of smoke tree autumnal leaves

A snapdragon plant that I bought cheaply from a DIY store on account of it being nearly dead has made a remarkable recovery despite my care and has started to flower.

The last of the cyclamens are blooming on the lawn.Photo of cyclamen

The golden rod has gone to seed and is now more of a silvery rod.

Michaelmas daisies are paying no heed to the religious calendar.Photo of michaelmas daisies

There is always herb Robert to be found.Photo of herb Robert

The purple bee lavender is looking glorious, but watch for lurking spiders when you admire it.

Evening primrose is the best substitute for the missing yellow disc in the sky.Photo of evening primrose

Fox and cubs are a blaze of orange amongst the murk.Photo of fox and cubs

And of course we have the usual autumnal suspects of berries …

…and fungi.

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A Cemetery Stroll

Photo of chapelAs it is nearly All Hallow’s Eve, the night when the souls of the dead are supposed to return to the mortal realm, I though it would be apposite to post about a cemetery stroll. This is especially true as I believe I am acquainted with more souls in Hereford Cemetery than in the rest of the City!Photo of cemetery

The last time I took you on a Graveyard Bimble it was the middle of summer. Now as we are well into autumn the place is even more windswept and barren.Photo of cemetery

I visited shortly after dawn on a rainy morn.Photo of tree

There is still autumn colour to be found.Photo of autumn leavesAnd the gardener had made good use of some ornamental grasses.Photo of cemetery gardenThe nearly bare trees made beautiful outlines against the moody skies.

“Grandpa Ratz” is the latest family member to book in to Hereford Cemetery’s bed and board. His flowers survived Storm Brian and added a splash of colour to the bleakness.

He loved flowers and I’m sure he would have approved of these.

So here’s to all souls past and present; have a safe and enjoyable Hallowe’en.Photo of sunset

Down by the Roadside

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.Photo of field through hedge

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. Photo of fluffy seed head

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.Photo of roadside verge and field

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. Photo of bees on brambles

I believe it was mostly cow parsley (or one of its carrot relatives), buttercups, red clover and a variety of grasses. Photo of grassy verge

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.

Grasses

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.Photo of ribwort plantain growing on lawn

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.Photo of ribwort plantain

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.  Photo of grass

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.Photo of grass

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.Photo of long grass on lawn

Answer: A grassy arse! Apologies to my Spanish friends.Photo of long grass against blue sky

May Flowers

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.Photo of lilac

The lilac contrasts nicely with the yellow laburnum blossoms.

The Spanish/hybrid bluebells have been posing with broom, tulips and primroses.

More tulips.

Purple bee lavender.Photo of purple bee lavender

Candytuft (iberis).Photo of candytuft

The bladder campion is starting to flower.Photo of bladder campion

The cuckoo pint looks interesting.

Greater celandine.

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.Photo of dog violet

May Flowers

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Spring Things

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.Photo of purple tulip

Red tulips.Photo of tulips

Mini tulip.Photo of mini tulip

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.Photo of holly blue butterfly

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.Photo of sawfly

I think this is a type of solitary bee.

Pretty sure this is an Ashy Mining Bee.Photo of ashy mining beeBee 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.buff tailed bumblebeeSome 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.Photo of lilac bush at night

Being a Fly

Photo of bee-fly on aubretiaWho 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.”Photo of bee-fly on aubretia

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.Photo of bee-fly on lesser celandine

Sometimes they just want to sunbathe on a leaf.

 

Pareidolia

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.Photo of birch polypore

I think we can all agree that this fallen tree resembles an elephant lurking amongst the trees.Photo of tree resembling elephant

Marching Towards Spring

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.Photo of lilac buds

The dwarf narcissi in pots are flowering.

However, the big daffodils in the garden are still thinking about it.Photo of daffodil buds

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.Photo of yellow crocus

The forsythia gets ever more yellow.

The quince is going strong.Photo of bee house with quince and flower pots

Newcomers include grape hyacinths.Photo of grape hyacinth

Dog violets.

The flowering currant.

Red dead-nettle.Photo of red dead-nettle

For those of you who remember the pinnacle of my gardening prowess, the alpine trough, here it is.

Spring is Blossoming

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.

Blooming Flowers

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.

Hello hellebore.Photo of Hellebore

The lawn has been covered with crocuses for a couple of weeks now.

However, they will only open up if there is sunshine. Photo of crocus

I blinked and nearly missed it.Photo of crocuses

There was even a yellow crocus this year.Photo of crocus

Primrose looking prim.Photo of primrose

Mahonia.Photo of mahonia

Forsythia having a serious think about flowering.Photo of forsythia

Quince, looking fancy.

Finally, the lilac is coming into bud.Photo of lilac buds

 

Winter Blooms

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:Photo of snowdrops 050217

This morning, not much change. It is as if they pulled back their sepal curtains a crack and said, “Nope. Not coming out.”Photo of snowdrops 110217

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.Photo of crocus Feb 17

Oddly the crocuses growing in the cracks in the path seem to be faring better as they caught some snowflakes this morning.Photo of crocuses in path with snowflakeYou might also like: Early Spring Flowers – Vol1 and Snowdrops and Crocuses

Foggy Street Scenes

Looming out of the fog is this abandoned old house. Its plaque informs us that it is dated from 1884 and named Clifford Place.Photo of empty building in fog

Incidentally, 1884 was the date of the Post Office Protection Act, part of which made it an offence to set fire to post boxes. Photo of post box in fog

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.

First Full Moon 2017

January 12th 2017 saw the first full moon of the year, the Full Wolf Moon. Photo of full moon

I took my usual blurry images of it as clouds scudded across the night sky.Photo of moon with halo

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.Photo of moon with halo

And of course the moon always looks good and spooky when viewed through bare branches blowing in the breeze.Photo of Moon behind trees