Thursday, 7 December 2017

More of the same

Anyone reading through my blogs of recent days could accuse me of banging on a bit about plants flowering out of season - and I would have to plead guilty. The fact is, I have been walking a lot recently and, to keep up my interest, I have been trying to observe and record these phenomena.
Today Chris dropped me off (she's always going somewhere) at the entrance to Daventry Golf Club on the Long Buckby road. I suppose it gave me a walk - with diversions - of about three miles. Not a lot I agree but it helps to maintain my svelte figure. [Ed: I trust you are joking!]
I had walked no more than a couple of hundred metres when I came to a small group of larches, Larix decidua.
Larch, showing the slender, pendulous branches. Eastern Way, Daventry.
7 December, 2017
We take these trees for granted yet for sheer grace they are surely a must for large scale landscape gardening. They are deciduous of course but their golden-brown leaves can linger for quite a long time. I was surprised to see that one particular cone (the cones can linger for several years) was glistening with a blob of resinous material, and even more intrigued to find on closer examination that the 'resin' turned out to be a group of ladybirds. One might reasonably expect these beetles to hide themselves under dead leaves or in crevices, and as a rule they do (all but one, her name was Ann and she crept under a pudding-pan).
'Resin' turned out, as I got closer, to be a group of ladybirds on a cone.

Yet here they were, at the mercy of the elements, some four metres above ground. Incidentally, despite the obvious variations, all were Harlequin Ladybirds, Harmonia axyridis; perhaps this recent arrival in Britain is hardier than our native species.
I pressed on, rather wishing that I'd accepted the gloves proffered by Chris as I had set out.
As I got further into Daventry I noticed a scattering of leaves of Pin Oak, Quercus palustris.
Leaves of Pin Oaks were scattered on the ground in Golding Close,
Daventry. 7 December, 2017
This North American species is widely planted but I would nevertheless have liked to trace the tree from whence (lovely word, whence) these leaves had come. I searched for a few minutes but failed miserably.
Rather predictably Hogweed, Heracleum sphondylium, was in flower; its inflorescences may persist throughout the winter. Whether there is nectar enough to attract the occasional visitor during our coldest months I just don't know.
Hogweed was flowering bravely but insects were there none. Edge of
Daventry Country Park. 7 December, 2017

Less predictable was an Escallonia, sporting bright carmine-pink flowers. Escallonias were, until fairly recently, placed in the Grossulariaceae Family, i.e. the Gooseberry Family, but are now given their own family, the Escalloniaceae. I didn't gather flowers for checking but the plant was most likely to be Escallonia rubra, a native of Chile. 
Escallonia rubra had no business to be in flower. Golding Close,
Daventry. 7 December, 2017
It is often sold under its synonym of Escallonia microphylla but, whatever its name, it should have ceased flowering by mid-autumn.  I was now approaching the middle of Daventry, where a very similar colour was to be seen in a rose along Church Walk.
A rambling rose persists in flowering. Church Walk, Daventry.
7 December, 2017
I could rabbit on about Mahonias and yet another Fatsia (see yesterday's blog) but will leave with the dangling catkins of Hazel, Corylus avellana, intriguing because judging by appearances they had already been shedding pollen for some days. Remarkable - and just like pairs of socks drying on a washing line!
Hazel catkins near Golding Close, Daventry. 7 December, 2017



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