Thursday, 30 March 2017

The Grange

My walk back from Kentle Woods today took me through an area of eastern Daventry called The Grange. It is an estate of high density housing with very small gardens and so, not surprisingly, there is little to be seen in the way of wildlife. In fact, to be honest, it would be hard to think of an area more devoid of insects, plants or whatever. Nevertheless I was in for a surprise.
At the edge of the area etween Thames Road and Leamington Way is a little strip of what was once a hedgerow. It consists of overgrown hawthorns and conceals a good deal (perhaps I should say bad deal) of plastic and paper rubbish. But there, clearly content with their lot, were half a dozen plants of Wood Anemone, Anemone nemorosa.
Wood Anemone at the edge of The Grange, Daventry.
30 March, 2017
There can be little doubt that they had survived there from a time, over forty or so years ago, when this was open countryside. John Clare wrote:
                                         And Anemone's weeping flowers
                                         Dyed in winter's snow and rime
                                         Constant to their early time
                                         White the leaf strewn ground again
                                         And make each wood a garden then.
... but I'll wager he wasn't thinking of this situation. Would it be immoral to sneak some seeds into Kentle Wood? To re-seed a wood is only like re-seeding a meadow, and that has beccome common practice
There are six petaloid sepals here but there can be up to nine.
The Grange, Daventry. 30 March, 2017
There was a second surprise for only a few paces away grew a very close but alien relative, Anemone blanda. Known as the Balkan Anemone it is clearly happy in U.K. gardens and has escaped in many areas.
The sepals on the Balkan Anemone are far more numerous.
The Grange, Daventry. 30 March, 2017
In this particular location it is likely to be a garden throw-out but hopefully it will survive to spread.
The Celandine, Ficaria verna, is a very close relative, all these plants being in the Buttercup family, Ranunculaceae. It too was growing plentifully and was an unwelcome presence in the nearby gardens too. Normally I would not have bothered to photograph it but the leaves are often interesting. Indeed, the leaf-shape is one feature which separates it from the true buttercups.
Ficaria verna was common in the area. The Grange, Daventry.
30 March, 2017
Sometimes the leaves can be marked in a manner resembling certain cyclamens and the patterning on these particular plants was very distinctive.
The distinctive leaves of the celandine are completely hairless.

Once home I scurried into my front garden where a clump of Cyclamen hederifolium allowed a comparative photograph.
Sowbread, Cyclamen hederifolium, in our front garden at Stefen Hill,
Daventry. 30 March, 2017
So The Grange came up with quite a lot of interest after all and to round it off I took a picture of a Dark-edged Bee Fly, Bombylius major, a common insect to be sure but my first of the year. Often mistaken for a bee it has only two wings compared with the four of a bee.
Bombylius major at The Grange, Daventry.
30 March, 2017
We have four species of bee-fly in Britain but for any of the three remaining species one must travel beyond Northamptonshire - as far as I know.

Tony White:


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