Monday, 11 September 2017

Stefen Leys Pocket Park

Today is distinctly autumnal: chilly with light showers being driven by a blustery wind. Nevertheless I decided to blow away a few cobwebs by visiting Stefen Leys Pocket Park It is a walk of only about 300 metres but I don't often go there as it is a rather forlorn place. Strictly speaking it is no longer a recognised pocket park and the information boards, which once made the visitor aware of its wildlife, now lie vandalised and useless.
Information boards lie abandoned. Stefen Leys Pocket Park, Daventry
11 September, 2017
The pond, which in spring only a couple of years ago was boiling with mating frogs and toads, is now choked with irises. I doubt the amphibians will return. I suppose the consolation is that we should have a fine show of these Yellow Flags, Iris pseudacorus, next year. 
The pond is now choked with Yellow Iris. 11 September, 2017
The capsules of the iris are in the process of splitting, revealing the pale brown seeds but the plants generally spread via thick rhizomes. They are lovely plants but should only be introduced into large lakes; as we see, they quickly overwhelm anything smaller.
The capsules of Yellow Iris are now opening to reveal the seeds. Stefen  Leys
Pocket Park, Daventry. 11 September, 2017
Most plants have now finished flowering although a few Purple Loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria, were providing a little late colour. If the intention was to attract insects then the plants were out of luck; it was far too chilly.
A few flowers linger on the Purple Loosestrife. Stefen Leys
Pocket Park, Daventry. 11 September, 2017
The only other flowers I noted were those of that well-known alien from southern Europe, Red Valerian, Centranthus ruber. Strictly speaking the word 'Centranthus' should be pronounced with a hard 'K' and in Druce's Northamptonshire flora (Ref. 1) he actually spells it Kentranthus. This is all very well but if we were to apply this rule universally we would speak of the rhino as Rhinokerus - and that would be absurd!
Red Valerian.In gardens it is still flowering profusely. Stefen Leys
Pocket Park, Daventry. 11 September, 2017
No, flowers were few and far between and most species were instead fruiting. A number of hornbeam trees have been planted in the area. Their curious tassel-like female catkins are very distinctive and superficially look nothing like the catkins of hazel, although both are in the same family, the Corylaceae. It is not a native of Northamptonshire but is genuinely wild further south in, for example, Epping Forest. The fastigiate form, with upsweeping branches, is a popular street tree and a fine avenue of them exists along the Oxford road leading out of Banbury.
The distinctive female catkins of Hornbeam. Stefen Leys Pocket Park.
11 September, 2017
The rain was now heavier. I had only taken a few flies - mostly greenbottles - but decided to call it a day. Coffee, Coffea arabica, was calling!


Druce, G.C. (1930) The Flora of Northamptonshire  T. Buncle and Co

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