Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The London Midget

Chris has recovered from her illness sufficiently to resume work as a volunteer in the Air Ambulance shop so, on a cold and frosty morning, I took her into Daventry town centre, left the car with her and, walking briskly, took a zigzag path home.

Before I had even left the centre of the town I had a wee surprise. On a leaf of a London Plane tree, Platanus x hispanica, I found an unfamiliar but distinctive mine. It had been formed by one of the so-called micro-moths, the London Midget, Phyllonorycter platani.
Plane leaves showing mines of the London Midget.
Daventry, 29 November, 2016

It was first found in Britain in 1989 and was first recorded in Northamptonshire in 2003 by my old friend George Higgs, but it is still largely confined to the south-east of the country. Plane trees are not native to the U.K. (they are found wild southern Europe) so this moth is likely only to be found in urban situations.
By this time it was beyond noon but frost was still lingering in sheltered places.
Bramble leaves still frosted after noon. Daventry, 29 November, 2016
The day was almost without wind but the occasional tug of breeze brought down a shower of leaves. In general though trees had already lost most of their foliage and the bare twigs formed a tracery against the brilliant blue sky.
Over September and October the flowers of Ivy have been an extremely important source of nectar. Quite remarkably a few flowers linger but I saw none receive an insect visitor.
Ivy still in bloom. Daventry, 29 November, 2016
Ivy now has a second stage of importance as the berries ripen. All those I saw today were still green but these will begin to ripen in time to replace diminishing alternative food sources for birds such as thrushes.
The ivy berries have plumped up nicely. Daventry, 29 November, 2016
In two days time the first day of winter arrives - at least meteorologically - and the cold may tighten its grip, but on the grass verge beside our house yarrow, Achillea millefolium, is still flowering.
...and yarrow is still in bloom. Daventry, 29 November, 2016
I have just been reading an account of an early neolithic burial; apparently the archaeologists 'knew it had been a summer burial because yarrow flowers had been strewn around the body'. Hmm...

Comments? Tony White: diaea@yahoo.co.uk

Monday, 28 November 2016

Drayton again

Some months ago - 16 January to be precise - I published a blog in which I spoke warmly of Drayton and expressed a determination to pay this area of Daventry a further visit. Spring passed, as did summer and autumn. Finally today, beneath a cloudless sky and with the temperature at the six degrees mark, I got around to it.

Too late!
An Indian Bean Tree, Catalpa bignonioides, which a few months ago would have borne its panicles of lovely white, purple spotted flowers, now stood leafless and forlorn, with only its cylindrical, pod-like capsules there to remind us of its summer beauty. Incidentally I have yet to find one of these fruits containing ripe seed. The common name refers not to India but to the North American 'Indians', the tree being a native of south-eastern U.S.A. and the 'Latin' name is derived from the word Catawba, the name used by the indigenous people.
The 'pods' of the Indian Bean Tree. Drayton, 28 November, 2016
A few metres away grew another holly look-alike, (see 'Spines and Cyanide', 22 October); this time it was a New Zealand Daisy Bush, Olearia macrodonta. It is sometimes referred to as the New Zealand Holly. In my youth this species was regarded as borderline hardy; now it can be planted safely over most of Britain.
New Zealand Daisy Bush. Drayton, Daventry. 28 November, 2016
A few months ago this would have borne dozens, if not hundreds, of daisy-like flowers. Now only their withered, sun-dried remains hinted at their summer glory.
In fact flowers were almost totally absent. An exception was a magnificent Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo, standing in a garden. Not only was it covered in hundreds of its ivory-coloured bell-shaped flowers but dozens of its scarlet fruits were also present. I was tempted to knock the door and ask the owner if I could enter the garden for a photograph but instead resolved to get one for myself.

'Is that a Wild Privet?' I asked myself, glimpsing some glossy black berries. I crossed the road for a closer look and saw that the plant had a twining habit. It was Japanese Honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica and, attractive as they were, I had missed out again, being too late to enjoy its creamy, highly fragrant flowers.
Lonicera japonica tumbles over a fence. Drayton, 28 November, 2016
This is a fast-growing, evergreen climber but can be over-vigorous for many gardens, so plant it with care!
Sunny though it was the temperature remained low and I lengthened my stride, keen to get home, pausing only to photograph a fine Hornbeam, Carpinus betulus. It was the popular 'Fastigiata' form but the shape had been distorted by unsympathetic pruning of the lower branches.
A fastigiate hornbeam. Drayton, Daventry, 28 November, 2016
Ah well, next year then...

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Ashby Fields at al (amended)

Chris was off to Northampton today, selling Christmas cards - 'Cards for Good Causes' - leaving me free to continue with my plan of walking myself back to fitness - it has now been a year since my heart operation - and exploring the wild and remote regions of Daventry.
In the town centre I grabbed a bus for Lang Farm but having followed what seemed a tortuous route for a few minutes I decided enough was enough and rang the bell for the next stop. Surprise! Quite by chance I had stepped off outside my daughter's school (by which I mean that she is head teacher, rather than the owner, of that august establishment). It would have been nice to pop in and see her I resisted the temptation as she would be very busy. Instead I began to retrace the bus route back to town.
Pleasant streets lined with poplars and birches helped to disguise the fact that some serious social problems exist in the area. This kind of beauty is, it seems, only skin-deep. I had barely started my walk when I was stopped by a clump of Upright Hedge-parsley, Torilis japonica, at the roadside. Surely not a surprise, I hear you say, as it is very common across Britain. But this relative of the carrot, normally in bloom around July to September, was here covered in flowers with their characteristic pink-tinged flower buds.
Torilis japonica in flower! Ashby Fields, Daventry.
24 November, 2016
A closer look shows the umbels of dainty flowers in more detail. In mid-summer these would probably barely merit a second glance, but in late November! Incidentally Druce* describes this plant as septal, and explains that this term is used for 'plants of hedgebanks and hedgerows'. No online dictionary (Collins, Merriam-Webster, Cambridge, etc) offers this definition. I take it that the word is derived from the Latin saepimentum - a hedge.
I strode on, feeling a little annoyed with myself at having failed to bring a map. All the streets in the area were named after intrepid explorers (Shackleton Drive, Mallory Way, Burton Close, etc) and I was concerned that I could get lost in in Daventry. Wimp! Snowberries, Symphoricarpos albus (formerly S. racemosus) grew at the roadside, bearing a remarkably heavy crop of fruit. Personally I don't think this North American shrub is worth growing although I suppose the white berries are moderately attractive. To be fair, the flowers of this honeysuckle relative are very attractive to bees, but there are surely far better shrubs.
Snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus as a roadside shrub, Daventry.
24 November, 2016
Growing with the Snowberry were shrubs of Oleaster, Eleagnus x ebbingei. Though its cream flowers are quite tiny they are very fragrant; what a pity the cold north-east wind was whisking away any scent I might have detected.
The small but fragrant flowers of Oleaster. Daventry. 24 November, 2016
A little further on a bryony was winding through roadside shrubs. I am reasonably sure it was White Bryony, Bryonia dioica, but with all its leaves gone I cannot be confident.
Bryony, but which one? Daventry, 24 November, 2016
It is the only member of the Cucumber family, Cucurbitaceae, to be found wild in Britain and, oddly, the Black Bryony, Tamus communis, is the sole member of the Yam family, Dioscoriaceae, in the British flora. Black or White, the berries are poisonous.

I pushed on and soon found that my road was crossing a disused  railway track. I quickly deviated and decided to use this as an interesting way of getting into town. It was the former line which ran from Weedon, via Daventry, to Leamington Spa. With a fair degree of certainty - the sun was not to be seen - I set off towards Daventry, only to realise, 200 metres later, that I was heading in the wrong direction.
Looking towards town. I went the other way!
Daventry, 24 November, 2016
Oh bother, I thought. Nevertheless I pressed on, sure that I'd soon find myself in familiar territory..  Grey Squirrel, Dunnock, Great Tit, Magpie - the wildlife was fairly predictable but I was pleased when a pair of Goldfinches flitted across the track, just missing my head. In the chilly conditions no insects were seen although a Stinging Nettle leaf bore the mine of the fly, Agromyza anthracina, a very commonplace species.
 I pressed on yet further and, via Drayton Way, headed for town. Gorse, Ulex europaea, inevitably in flower, grew beside the road.
Kissing's in season! Gorse in Daventry, 24 November, 2016
And further on, also at the roadside, its relative, Broom. (Don't be silly Tony)
Broom, (Cytisus domesticus?) Roadside near Daventry. 24 November, 2016

Oddly enough, as I approached Daventry town centre, I found a thicket of the genuine Broom, Cytisus scoparius - but not in flower.
The real thing at the edge of Daventry. 24 November, 2016
I eventually made it, passing three or four unexpected plants of Spindle, Euonymus europaeus, on the way.
Spindle brightened a dull hedgerow. Daventry. 24 November, 2016
With my originally brisk walk now reduced to little more than a plod I continued home. Between three and four miles I suppose. Progress of a sort.

* G. Claridge Druce (1930) 'The Flora of Northamptonshire'

Comments? Tony White: diaea@yahoo.co.uk

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

True Grit

My alpine tub and sink need dressing with horticultural grit so, having dropped Chris off in Daventry town centre, I decided to take Shanks's pony to Dennett's Garden Centre.
Having dropped off a couple of books at the library I set off, best foot forward (probably my left foot, as my right ankle is a bit dodgy). This, I thought, will be a piece of cake - un morceau de gateau - as the French probably never say. At the corner of  Market Square a Lavatera was still in bloom.

It was Lavatera thuringiaca (formerly known as L. olbia). It is a plant for the larger border and, although its common name of Tree Mallow overstates the case, it attains considerable dimensions. In my last blog, 'Hebe and Veronica', I discussed name changes. Now for more: three genera of the Mallow family, Malvaceae, are to be found wild in Britain: Malva itself, Lavatera and Althaea, the Marsh Mallow. Superficialy they are very similar and DNA studies indicate that the distinction between Malva and Lavatera is not justified and all plants within these genera should henceforth be regarded as members of the Malva genus. As for Althaea, these, it is suggested, should be placed in the Hollyhock genus, Alcea.  Furthermore the Mallow family should apparently not be regarded as distinct from the Lime Tree family, Tiliaceae. Oh Gawd!

Anyway, I did not allow these thoughts to intrude upon my sense of enjoyment as I strode forth through the churchyard of Holy Cross church. I made my way from the rear of the church to the busy A425, intending to walk south, but found that no pavement existed and I was forced to take a wide detour. I headed east and crossed a broad meadow - or at least it would have been a meadow a few decades ago - towards the area known as Southgate. I was in completely new territory and I realised how little I knew of Daventry.

In the hedgerows ot the east side of the meadow I found Wild Privet, Ligustrum vulgare, growing. With its lanceolate leaves it is easily distinguished from the ovate-leaved Garden Privet, L. ovalifolium. This latter is a Japanese shrub which is rarely self-sown.
Wild Privet in a hedgerow. Southgate, Daventry.
22 November, 2016
Our own, native, Wild Privet is common on limestone but here was a little unexpected. If the black berries look rather like small olives that is only to be expected for it is a member of the Olive family, Oleaceae.

By now it had become clear that my little stroll was turning into quite a walk, but not without interest. Despite climate warming - and on this matter I part company with that nice Mr Trump - this November has been distinctly chilly but, draped from a fence, a Passion Flower, Passiflora caerulea, was bravely flowering. Absurd.
Blue Passion Flower still in bloom. Daventry, 22 November, 2016
Anyway, via High March I pressed on towards Dennett's Garden Centre. Approaching by a partially flooded track (we have had heavy rain over the last thirty-six hours) I had another surprise. Growing beside the track  was a thicket of one of our most intriguing plants, the Great Horsetail, Equisetum telmateia.

Great Horsetail at the entrance to Dennett's Garden
Centre, Daventry. 22 November, 2016
I'll refrain from going into the fossil history of these primitive, ancient plants but, primitive or not, they are still with us after - according to modern research - over 130 million years. I should not have been surprised by its presence as this species is still a widespread plant in Northamptonshire.
A closer view of the diagnostic stem joints.
So, after a long slog I arrived at Dennett's. Yes, they had the grit but it was the wrong colour! I left empty handed. But it had been an interesting and revealing walk.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Hebe and Veronica

Oh dear! Life can be so complicated.

At this time of the year we do not expect bright floral colours to enliven our gardens but fortunately we have Hebes to come to the rescue. Or do we? When these versatile, varied and valuable shrubs were found in New Zealand it didn't take botanists long to decide that they were species of Veronica. Their shrubby habit was atypical for the genus, but Veronicas they surely were. But then, somewhere in the 1960's if memory is correct, doubts began to creep in and, with little dissent, they were re-christened Hebe, after the Greek Goddess of Youth. Nurserymen changed the labels and it was a case of  'God's in his heaven; all's right with the world', as Browning put it.
Veronicas (Hebes) are still flowering freely in our garden.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 20 November, 2016

But then rumbling grew in the ranks.  In the late 1990's biologists Wagstaff and Garnock-Jones, utilising new DNA techniques, established that Hebes were Veronicas after all, but it must be said that horticulturalists are proving very reluctant to re-label their offerings. One can't really blame them.
Further along Christchurch Road, Daventry, other Veronicas are blooming.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 20 November, 2016

So, are we now all sorted? Sadly no. One thing we were all happy and confident about was that Veronicas were members of the Foxglove family, Scrophulariaceae. As it turns out the genus has now been transferred to the hitherto minor Plantaginaceae family, so now the Veronicas are kin to the humble plantains of our lawns and roadsides.

But, whatever they're called, they are, as stated, brightening our gardens. Oddly enough the Veronica currently flowering in our front garden is the variety 'Midsummer Beauty'. What's in a name?

Sunday, 20 November 2016

The Exotic and the Mundane

A walk earlier today took me from the Timken area of north-west Daventry into the town centre and I was struck by the exotic plantings in otherwise 'ordinary' gardens. First off was a Chusan Palm, Trachycarpus fortunei, otherwise known as the Chinese Windmill Palm.
Chusan Palm in Rowallen Way, Daventry. 20 November, 2016
It was found by Robert Fortune growing on the island of Chusan, south of Shanghai, so it is technically sub-tropical. However it is hardy in most parts of the British Isles and will make quite a large tree. That being so, it is probably best not to plant it too near to the house!
Only about a hundred metres away grew a tall Cabbage Palm. Although the Chusan Palm is a true palm, thus belonging to the Arecaceae, the Cabbage Palm, Cordyline australis, is a member of the large Asparagaceae family and is thus related to asparagus! It should be said that Cordyline species have received various treatments by taxonomists and the situation is confused.
A lofty Cabbage Palm provided a striking feature in the Timken area
of Daventry. 20 November, 2016
Thoughts of sub-tropical islands were banished as I entered Daventry's centre. Daventry has many laudable features, but imaginative, well-tended floral features are not among them. All that caught my eye were two plants in the cabbage family, Brassicaceae. Throughout my childhood and youth this family was known as the Cruciferae, a reference to the cruciform arrangement if the flowers, clearly shown in the photograph below.

Wild Radish grew on a patch of roadside ground. Daventry,
20 November, 2016
Growing beside this yellow-flowered specimen was a very similar plant bearing white flowers, but a closer look showed that they belonged to the same species. The Wild Radish, Raphanus raphanistrum, is variable in terms of flower colour but this very bristly species is otherwise distinctive. Despite the name it is not the same species as the Garden Radish, Raphanus sativus. 
The white-flowered form grew alongside
Wild Radish is a widespread weed of arable land and waste ground but in Northamptonshire it has a patchy distribution, with the yellow flowered form being the more common.

One other sub-tropical plant was of interest to me: a beverage based on Coffea arabica was to be found at Costa's, so a cup of 'flat white', sui generis, warmed me and sustained me for my walk home.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

A trudge into Daventry

When William Wordsworth penned the lines:

                                               Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive...

He was not, I'll wager, in Daventry on a chilly, wet and windy November morning. But I had jobs to do in the town, jobs that could be put off no longer. And I was determined to walk and make a start on ridding myself of six unwanted pounds and start regaining my once-svelte figure.

As it happened the rain cleared up by late the morning and the cloud cleared, allowing some welcome sunshine to brighten the day.

My walk was mostly through rather uninspiring housing estates, gardens bereft of
colour other than from fruit and foliage. The former was represented by a specimen of Himalayan Honeysuckle, Leycesteria formosa. This shrub, sometimes called the Flowering Nutmeg is, to my mind, an excellent garden plant.
Call it Pheasant Berry, Flowering Nutmeg or Himalayan Honeysuckle,
Leycesteria formosa is a fine shrub. Daventry, 17 November, 2016
The moderately fragrant flowers, with their copious nectar, are constantly visited by bees and other insects; their fruit is enjoyed by birds. These berries, surrounded by purple-red bracts, are very attractive and the only slight drawback is a tendency to over-produce seedlings, although these are easily grubbed out.

The foliage colour was mostly provided by sycamores, whose dead leaves, though ultimately choking the roadside kerbs, are tolerated for their brilliant primrose and gold hues.
The autumn foliage of sycamore brightens up the landscape.
Daventry, 17 November, 2016
So my brisk walk turned out to be pleasant enough, and my G.P. would have approved of my raised heart-rate.

I found myself in a short queue at a Waitrose checkout, behind two rather elderly ladies of a portly physique. One turned to the other and said, 'I've bin under the doctor with me foot.' I had a fleeting mental picture of a grotesque sexual encounter and was relieved when she continued, 'It got trod on.' We were spared further details as the queue moved forward. With a handful of other purchases (which I will not list, in case my wife reads this) I strode home, even finding it necessary to shield my eyes from the sun. No wonder the weather is always a topic of conversation in Britain.

This, incidentally, is my 500th blog.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

More about Deadly Nightshade

A few months ago, in a blog called 'Hospital Poisons' (20 July), I drew attention to the fact that Deadly Nightshade, Atropa belladonna, grew in the grounds of Northampton General Hospital. It was still there when I visited earlier today; indeed I found another robust specimen. It was still bearing its glossy, purple-black fruits, 'girt by the persistent, spreading calyx'* and very tempting they looked too, for serving with 'lashings of ice cream'.
The glossy, black fruit of Deadly Nightshade photographed in the grounds
of Northampton General Hospital. 15 November, 2016
Presumably they will eventually be consumed by birds, but at the moment alternative fare is on offer.

All parts of the plant are very poisonous - or at least they are to humans. Other creatures may regard them as wholesome and delicious and sinuous mines formed by insect larvae in the leaves showed that they were quite acceptable.
Phytomyza horticola (?) has mined the leaves

I am reasonably certain that the mines shown are the work of Chromatomyia horticola #. This is a common fly and its widespread occurrence can be put down to that fact that the larvae are polyphagous, that is, able to feed on a wide range of plants. (Autophagous creatures feed only on a single species: the Heart Moth, Dicycla oo for example, feeds only on oak. And if the food plant becomes extinct, then so does the creature.) Polyphagy is really quite remarkable, as it means that the grub feeds on a wide range of plants, encountering many toxins and is able to cope with them all; indeed C. horticola has recently been reported on another very poisonous genus, tobacco. This fly is known also as a pest of plants in the daisy, cabbage, and pea family and, in some countries, has been the subject of much research as a consequence to the damage it can inflict on oilseed rape.

* Hutchinson, John. 'British Wild Flowers. Penguin Books, 1945

# Before any of my friends pick me up on it, I should say that recent research has shown that it is more appropriately called Phytomyza horticola.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Cashew cousins

In a blog recently ('Spines and Cyanide', 23 October) I made mention of the Cashew Nut Family, Anacardiaceae. Strolling through Daventry earlier today I had reason to think a little further about this largish family of close on 900 species spread across about 90-95 genera. I suppose that it is in many ways  group of plants with a low profile in the U.K., unsurprising really since no members of the family are native to this country. The only species we are likely to come across are members of the genera Rhus and Cotinus. So why did they come to mind on my walk? Quite simply, they take on such striking autumnal colours.
Stag's Horn Sumach in Christchurch Drive, Daventry. 13 November, 2016
Most people know the Stag's Horn Sumach, Rhus hirta (= Rhus typhina). It is largely planted for its large, graceful, pinnately-compound leaves but also for the rather furry, curiously thick twigs, fancifully resembling the horns of a Red Deer when 'in velvet'. The leaves, at this time of the year, are very eye-catching, as shown below.
The same plant in close-up.

The flowers are nothing to get excited about, even if they form a rather unusual stiff inflorescence.
The curious inflorescence of Stag's Horn Sumach.
Northampton. 15 November, 2016
This species rarely produces seed in the U.K. but this hasn't stopped it from regularly escaping from gardens via an extensive suckering system. It may pop up, disconcertingly, in the middle of an otherwise immaculate lawn.

The Smoke Bush, Cotinus coggyria, is equally familiar to gardeners. It was once known as Rhus cotinus, the name given to it by Linnaeus, but it has significant differences, most notably in the form of the leaves. These are simple as opposed to pinnate but like the Stag's Horn Sumach, it assumes rich autumn colours. However, the form most commonly grown in gardens has distinctive purple leaves throughout the growing season and is generally marketed as 'Royal Purple'. It does produce seeds and the occasional seedling is found but nowhere has it become established in the wild.  These shrubs are related to the Poison Ivy species, such as Toxocodendron radicans, of North America but the family includes some surprising edible plants.
Smoke Bush, London Road, Daventry. 13 November, 2016
One is the Cashew Nut, Anacardium occidentale and another popular nut is the Pistachio, Pistacia vera. And finally there is the Mango, Mangifera indica, a fruit known to have been eaten in India as far back as 5,000 years ago.

I frequently find other members of the family when on Mediterranean holidays and the flowers are invariably dull, but this factor is compensated by attractive foliage and I notice that a bunch of flowers in our dining room includes a sprig of the Mastic Tree, Pistacia lentiscus.
Pistacia lentiscus provides foliage interest in a bunch of
flowers. Daventry, 14 November, 2016
With climate warming other Anacardiads may find their way into our gardens.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Sink Gardens - a salutary tale

Back in 2015 I created a sink garden in which to grow my favourite type of plant, alpines. I was pleased with the outcome and wrote a blog about it (27.3.2015); I delighted in the plants and how they performed but, I thought, there is room for a couple of extras.

For example there was no Campanula there, and one or two other species came to mind. Neat little specimens were for sale on Daventry market so I treated myself (tret myself, as Northamptonshire dialect has it) and popped them in.


The newcomers quickly settled in and began to produce new growth, and more new growth, and more...  Soon all my delicate alpines were overwhelmed and action was needed, so today I completely emptied the sink. Fortunately I was able to rescue three plants. I put them to one side and got to work, refilling the sink with a suitably gritty, free-draining compost. A few days earlier I had ordered some new plants and they went in.

In truth, a sink garden will require replanting from time to time but mine lasted only eighteen months.

What have I learned from this experience?

The refurbished sink garden. 11 November 2016

1. Stick to Plan A and not be tempted to tamper with an otherwise satisfactory set up.

2. Choose from plants known to perform well in a sink garden, preferably no more than about 80 mm high
3. Purchase from a reliable, ideally specialist, supplier.

Anyway, the damage has been rectified and I can look forward to spring. For the record the plants I have used are:

Draba rigida, var. imbricate
Calceolaria biflora
Androsace sempervivoides
Geranium cinerium 'Laurence Flatman'
Aquilegia canadensis
Saxifraga oppositifolia
Dianthus alpinus 'Joan's Blood'

My only misgiving is the Aquilegia. It is a beautiful plant - but will it become too large?

Time will tell.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

A touch of frost

Chris got home last night and informed me that parked cars were wearing a coating of frost. This was alarming; no frost had been forecast and my Abyssinian Banana, Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii', was unprotected. I dashed out and swathed it in horticultural fleece; I may have got away with it as tender bedding plants such as Tagetes seem unscathed. (See footnote regarding the frost)

Frost or not, some plants are still in flower. One surprise is a Sea Holly, Eryngium bourgatii. Despite their common name most plants in this genus are not seashore plants at all. That distinction belongs to Eryngium maritimum, a British native. E. bourgatii is more likely to be found on dryish hillsides in the Mediterranean region.

Eryngium bourgatii flowering in our front garden. 7 November, 2016
With its steel-blue bracts and attractively variegated leaves it is a delightful plant for a well-drained spot. But it surely shouldn't be coming into flower in November!
In Daventry, despite the extra warmth of an urban situation, there is little colour to be seen.  A clump of Euonymus japonicus grows near to the library. It is similar to, and often confused with, Euomymus fortunei. Here and there it has become naturalised in the U.K.
Euonymus fortunei beside Daventry library. 7 November, 2016
Interestingly it bore no fruit except on branches where reversion had taken place. Perhaps the extra chlorophyll provided the energy needed for fruit production as variegated foliage tends to be constitutionally weak.

Only the green (reverted) branched bore fruit. 7 November, 2016
 A closer look at the fruits makes clear its relationship with our native Spindle Tree, Euonymus europaeus. For this family 'the distinctive fruit is diagnostic' * and unmistakeable.
Also in fruit was the Stinking Iris, aka Stinking Gladdon, Roast Beef Plant, etc. Its Latin name of Iris foetidissima tells you all you need to know; it is indeed very stinking when the leaves are rubbed. It is very widespread hereabouts yet I was completely unfamiliar with it during my childhood So what has happened over the intervening decades?
Stinking Iris , Daventry town centre. 8 November, 2016
It is a native plant but most examples to be seen are surely garden escapes, aided by bird sowing. It makes up with its scarlet berries for what the relatively drab flowers lack in colour.

The only striking flowers I noted were those of Hypericum 'Hidcote' in a municipal bed. It is a hybrid of uncertain parentage. There is a wide belief that the non-native Rose of Sharon Hypericum calycinum is one parent but there is no certainty to it. In Britain the Rose of Sharon rarely produces seed, spreading vegetatively, so the cross was presumably made abroad.
Hypericum 'Hidcote' was still flowering splendidly. 8 November, 2016

Hypericums give their name to the Hypericaceae family. It consists of only six genera but Hypericum is overwhelmingly the largest, and is the only genus found in Britain.

Footnote  For the last 3-4 months our loft has provided a congenial home for a nest of wasps. The sharp frost, following a spell of very chilly weather, seems to have delivered it the coup-de-grace  and the area beneath the entrance is now littered with their corpses.

* Stace, Clive: New Flora of the British Isles.  Cambridge University Press