Saturday, 14 June 2014

The Pocket Park in June

I don't grow many roses. Virtually all that we have in our garden have been gifts.

This one, "Golden Celebrations" was, as you might guess, bought by friends for our Golden Wedding. It is a handsome variety and very fragrant too. As can be seen, there is some fungal disease but nothing serious.

My garden: "Crown Princess Margareta"
13 June, 2014

A similar shade is to be seen in "Crown Princess Margareta" but here the flowers are quartered rather than cup shaped. It too is very fragrant and comes from the same breeder, David Austin.

"Rosa Mundi" in my garden.
13 June, 2014

One rose I did buy for myself is Rosa gallica "Versicolor", generally known as "Rosa Mundi". It certainly dates back to before 1581 and its name is apparently a reference to Rosamond Clifford, mistress of Henry II - the original Fair Rosamund. Apart from being very eye-catching it is pleasantly fragrant and disease-free. I wouldn't be without it.

I was reminded of all this when visiting the pocket park earlier today. It was my first visit for a couple of weeks and dog roses (Rosa canina) were in flower. Though not fragrant I love it for its simplicity.

Rosa canina in Byfield Pocket Park.
13 June, 2014

It must surely have been this species which Rupert Brooke had in mind when he wrote:

"Unkempt about those hedges blows
An English unofficial rose"

The Old Vicarage, Grantchester

Brambles were just coming into flower too. The Bramble is a very variable species and has been split into many micro-species. Gill Gent and Rob Wilson list 73 of these in their latest (2012) flora of our county. The study of the micro-species is called batology; for me they are simply lumped together as Rubus fruticosus agg (with 'agg' meaning aggregate). 

It does not require botanical studies to see the similarity between rose flowers and those of brambles and so it will come as no surprise to find that brambles are placed in the Rose family.

Quite a few insects were to be seen although as I was only making a short visit I made no serious effort to do any recording.

Sloe Bug in Byfield Pocket Park.
13 June, 2014

The Sloe Bug, Dolycoris baccarum, is a very attractive insect with its purplish forewings. Despite its name it has no particular association with sloes, i.e. blackthorn, but has been seen feeding on a wide range of plants. Here it is on a thistle.

A picture-winged fly on thistle.
13 June, 2014
Thistles are valuable for attracting insects although the species I was interested in, Circium arvense, is generally regarded as a weed. Known as the Creeping Thistle it spreads not only by seed but by long rhizomes (underground stems) and is rather a problem in the Pocket Park. I also have a problem: the insect shown is one of the picture-winged flies and appears to be Tephritis hyoscyami. The snag is that this insect is not associated with the 
Creeping Thistle but with thistles in the genus Carduus - of which there are none in the Pocket Park. Unfortunately I did not secure a specimen of the fly so I can't identify it with certainty. Further investigation is needed.

Chloromyia formosa in Byfield Pocket Park
13 June, 2014
A soldier fly was  loafing on a leaf. The species is the Broad Centurion, Chloromyia formosa, and it is common not only in the Pocket Park but generally. This rather handsome fly ('formosa' means 'beautiful') has a blue-green thorax in both sexes. The male has a bronze abdomen but the female (shown) has a blue one, unfortunately not revealed in this photograph. This variation between the sexes is known as sexual dimorphism and is quite frequent among soldier flies.

The only other insect I photographed was this bug, Calocoris (Grypocoris) stysi. It is a member of the Miridae and is both easily recognisable and common. The Miridae can be extremely tricky to identify but this one presents no problems. Adults, like the nymphs, feed on the catkins of nettles but the adults will also feed on aphids.

Last autumn a group of us from the village spent a lot of time cutting back nettles and thistles, replacing them with meadow flowers. Sadly few of these have survived, overwhelmed by coarse weeds, but I was heartened to see that some have hung on in there.

Yellow-rattle in Byfield Pocket Park
13 June, 2014

One of these was Yellow-rattle, Rhinanthus minor, about which I wrote in my "Boddington Reservoir" blog a week or so ago. Several plants have survived and with luck will become well established.

I went home in a cheerful mood.

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