Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Highlights of Christmas shopping

A rather hefty storm passed through in the night, leaving everywhere very wet. Anyway, I had to go into Daventry so a country walk was never on the cards.

Turkish wreaths were on display in all the florists.
Daventry. 8 December, 2015
Local florists were selling 'Turkish wreaths' and I stopped to have a closer look. Brightly coloured fruits proved to be those of the Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo. Use was being made too of Italian Cypress, Cupressus sempervirens, and pine cones. From their shape the latter were probably Austrian Pine, Pinus nigra; despite its name this species is by no means confined to Austria, but is common in the eastern Mediterranean region. Some wreaths also contained Laurustinus, Viburnum tinus.

The Strawberry Tree is quite unrelated to genuine strawberries but is a member of the Heather family, Ericaceae. It is unusual not just because of the fruits but is one of the few members of the heather family to tolerate lime. In fact I generally find this shrub (or small tree) growing on limestone. With its lovely glossy reddish bark, its little sprays of flowers rather like Lily of the Valley, and bright (but dreadfully insipid) fruits, it makes an excellent garden plant.

Arbutus andrachne generally has darker fruits than its
commoner relative, A. unedo. Daventry,  8 December, 2015

The fruits have a slightly warty appearance and in a couple of cases I'm sure that darker fruits were those of the Greek Strawberry Tree, Arbutus andrachne.
Not exciting but reliable. Brachyglottis greyi
in Daventry. 8 December, 2015

There were still roses stubbornly in bloom, together with Brachyglottis greyi (formerly Senecio greyi), whose felted foliage gives the plant an overall greyish appearance. This native of New Zealand is a useful rather than a must-have species.

Lavatera was still in bloom.
Daventry. 8 December, 2015

My friend John grows Lavatera or Tree 
Mallow in his front garden. Whether it is currently flowering I'm not sure, but this specimen near the front of Holy Cross Church certainly was. I suspect it is Lavatera olbia; certainly this species is common in cultivation.

The sandstone masonry of Holy Cross Church is not
very fossiliferous but a few belemnites are present.
Daventry, 8 December, 2015

And, apart from a small cluster of belemnites on the wall of the aforementioned church, that was about it. 'Dull' Daventry once again came up with a few items of interest to contrast with the utterly predictable Christmas carols in every shop I visited. 

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