Sunday, 10 January 2016

A wet Sunday in Daventry

Sunday afternoon in Daventry, Not a place to visit if excitement is what you are after, in fact my only reason for being there was a visit to the library. I wanted a copy of Laurie Lee's book, 'As I walked out one Midsummer Morning'. No luck, but to be fair, there was plenty of Mills & Boon material. (Tony, aren't you being just a little bit of a snob? Actually, for two years I really was a snob, this being an 18th century term for a shoemaker.) Anyway, moving on...

The shower that had dampened me a little earlier had cleared up. Time for a brisk stroll around the town to get the legs working. Would I see any wildlife? Answer: not a lot.

Normally busy streets were remarkably quiet. A blackbird scolded me as I passed a cotoneaster hedge. What was I a-playing at, disturbing respectable birds of a Sunday afternoon! A wren flitted quickly from on shrub to another, hoping not to be noticed.

Iris foetidissima has a host of common names
 such as Roast Beef Plant. 
Daventry, 10 January, 2016

Fruit on these bushes had been thinned out a little by birds, but the scarlet berries of Stinking Gladdon, Iris foetidissima, appeared to be untouched. Clearly they are the avian equivalent of brussels sprouts and only eaten under sufferance.

The popular but highly poisonous Stag's Horn Sumach.
Daventry, 10 January, 2016
Stag's Horn Sumach, Rhus typhina, was infesting a border, growing from the suckers of a plant in a nearby garden. It is quite a pretty tree but its suckering habit makes it a real nuisance and I would think twice before introducing one to my garden. It has a couple of other drawbacks too: it has no value whatever for wildlife, and all parts of the plant are extremely poisonous. This toxicity is not surprising as, being a member of the Anacardiaceae, it is related to the Poison Ivy of North America. 

Oddly enough, this family also includes cashew nuts and the mango. In this sense it resembles the Solanaceae, which includes dangerously toxic plants such as Deadly Nightshade, Tobacco and Henbane but also includes potatoes, tomatoes and aubergines.

Old Man's Beard wreathes its way through shrubs.
Daventry, 10 January, 2016

Old Man's Beard, Clematis vitalba, threaded its way through roadside shrubs. This relative of buttercups has, as in Northampton, found a congenial home on waste ground. As far as I as concerned it is very welcome.

A brick wall, probably the best part of a century old, looked promising. Surely, I thought, ferns will have colonised the partly-crumbling mortar. No such luck - but there were several plants clinging on there, such as Kenilworth Ivy, aka Ivy-leaved Toadflax.

Buddleia, Buddleja davidii, was predictable, a tiny sapling rooted among the mosses. It will need to be removed soon of the mortar is not to be badly damaged.

Yellow Corydalis enjoys the crevices in old brickwork.
Daventry, 10 January, 2016

Slightly less predictable was Rock Fumewort, Pseudocorydalis lutea. In the summer this area will be brightened up by its canary-yellow flowers. Some of its close relatives (Fumitory species) have grey, finely cut leaves which can have a vaguely smoke-like appearance, hence the odd common name. But in truth an even commoner name is simply Yellow Corydalis.  It is not a British native but is from the foothills of the Alps in southern Europe.

A few gulls swooped and screamed overhead. They could have been laughing at my largely fruitless efforts in tracking down wildlife - but I'd had a brisk walk. Job done!

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