Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The first frosts

Our friends Ann and John tell us that their lawn has been white on a couple of occasions recently. They live in the very rural hamlet of Charwelton but our more urban situation in Daventry seems to have been frost-free so far, and when I set out for Byfield Pocket Park today the conditions were warm and sunny.

Calliphora vomitoria taking on nectar at ivy.
Byfield, 30 September, 2015

Ivy is now well in bloom in many places and, as usual, is proving a magnet for insects, including this female blowfly, Calliphora vomitoria

The flowers will be attracting insects for weeks now, until...

                         Save grey-veined ivy's hardy pride
                         Round old trees by the Common side,
                         The hedgers toil oft scares the doves that browse
                         The chocolate berries on the Ivy boughs.

                                           Clare's Shepherd's Calendar, 1827

...but the chocolate berries are yet a couple of months away.

White Dead-nettle, Lamium album,
 Byfield Pocket Park, 30 September, 2015

For nectar the ever-dependable White Dead-nettle is there for bees being in flower for nearly every month of the year. Here in the pocket park it is supplemented by plants of marjoram.

Marjoram in a flower bed at Byfield Pocket park.
30 |September, 2014

Sun Spurge in Byfield Pocket Park. 30 September, 2015
Marjoram, Origanum vulgare, was planted a few years ago in flower beds and has since multiplied greatly. It belongs to the same family, Lamiaceae, as the White Dead-nettle and for weeks has been a bountiful source of nectar.

Sun Spurge, Euphorbia  helioscopia, was also in flower on disturbed ground. It receives an occasional visit from insects but I suspect may also have a self-pollination mechanism. I was pleased to see it as it is new to the pocket park, being the 127th flowering plant I've recorded there. It was accompanied by Purple Dead-nettle.

The yellow berries of Viburnum opulus 'Xanthocarpum'.
Byfield Pocket Park. 30 September, 2015

For those creatures for whom berries form part of the diet, the red fruit of the wild Guelder Rose was supported by the yellow-berried Viburnum opulus 'Xanthocarpum', in a shrubbery. The berries are moderately poisonous to humans, causing stomach upsets, but seem quite acceptable to birds. Of course the Guelder Rose is not a true rose but a member of the Adoxaceae.

In places the shrubs and trees in the pocket park have grown to the point where they are obstructing footpaths. A job for our occasional working party!


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