Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Rambling on...

In a couple of months time Chris and I are off rambling in southern Greece (the Peloponnese to be more precise) and as I am not at all fit, and as today was reasonably fine (at least it was dry) I set off again for a strenuous walk. But of course it wasn't strenuous - stopping every couple of minutes to examine an enthralling twig doesn't exactly get the heart-rate up.

I left Byfield via Banbury Lane, pausing only to photograph a Spurge-laurel, Daphne laureola.

Spurge-laurel, Daphne laureola.
Byfield, 18 February, 2014

Its small, fragrant flowers are easily overlooked, but merit closer examination. Given a couple of hours of warm sunshine it may receive visits from Honey Bees. No one seems to plant it hereabouts; it just pops up, probably being bird sown.

Yesterday I more or less vowed not to photograph any lichens, so here are two ...

Pannaria rubiginosa on the trunk of an ash tree.
Nr Byfield, 18 February.

On the trunk of an ash tree was an attractive patch of Matted Lichen, Pannaria rubiginosa. This is a very widespread species, found all over the world except Australasia and Antarctica, so it doesn't count as a sensational find.

An oak branch, bearing Evernia prunastri.
Near Byfield, 18 February, 2014

... and Evernia prunastri, already featured in previous blogs and therefore needing no further comment. 

I plodded on through sticky fields, my circular route eventually bringing me back towards the village. In some hedgerows snowdrops were present, sometimes in patches numbering many hundreds but, far more more interesting, was a fair-sized patch of a Lungwort.

With its small, neat, unspotted leaves it clearly wasn't the usual Pulmonaria officinalis and a closer examination showed that it was Pulmonaria rubra. This plant is a native of south-east Europe but has escaped from gardens and is now quite widely scattered through Britain. (Incidentally our only native Lungwort is the Narrow-leaved Lungwort, Pulmonaria longifolia, found wild on the Isle of Wight, Dorset and parts of Hampshire.)

Pulmonaria rubra, Boddington Road, Byfield.
18 February, 2014

This clump along the Boddington Road is clearly well-established and holding its own with the native flora. All Lungworts are excellent bee-plants, with copious amounts of nectar. Alien it may be, but in my eyes it is very welcome.

I pushed on into Byfield via the pretty Westhorp Lane and was stopped in my tracks by this lovely rose on a south-facing wall. Even in such a position it had no right to be flowering so beautifully in mid-February. (Excuse the camera angle; I wanted to show the quality of the petals.)

Also in flower were some clumps of Elephant-ears, Bergenia crassifolia. I cannot deny the attractiveness of the neat, bright pink flowers, but I have never grown it.

Elephant-ears, Westhorp Lane, Byfield.
18 February, 2014

The thick, cabbage-like leaves are so coarse that it hard to accept that it a member of the generally neat Saxifrage Family. These leaves are long-lasting and therefore get battered and chewed, detracting from a plant which might otherwise be a gem. Books will tell you that it is attractive to bees. All I can say is that I have been unlucky because I have never seen bees - or butterflies - visiting Bergenia.


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