Saturday, 7 April 2018

Tiptoe through the tulips

Our tulips have been in flower for a week or so and although I don't like them arranged in regimental order in beds they can be a lovely sight in drifts.
Pottering around the garden I notice that our purple Pasque Flowers are now in bloom. The red variety has also, like the tulips, been in flower for a few days and very attractive they are too. They opened around Easter Day and, bearing in mind that the word 'Pasque' like 'Paschal', refers to Easter, their flowering was almost spot on.
The red form of the pasque flower, Pulsatilla vulgaris.
However, the sumptuous purple of our native form is stunning and here in Northamptonshire we are lucky to have it present as a wild flower. True it only grows at the eastern end of the county around Barnack, and attempts to re-introduce it to its former site have met with limited success.
The native form of this lovely buttercup relative, once known as
Anemone pulsatilla. Our garden at Stefen Hill, Daventry. 7 April, 2018
Here at the western end of Northants the limestone, if present, is not exposed as an outcrop and the Pasque Flower is not to be found other than in gardens. Oddly enough it has seeded around and we now have a dozen or so plants even though the pH of our soil is only around neutral. There you go!
I hope to propagate our Hacquetia from seed and the chances having some to sow would surely be enhanced by insect visitors. I was therefore pleased to see a bumble bee at the flowers earlier today. Bombus terrestris or B. lucorum? I am not a hymenopterist so I honestly can't be sure. Rather illogically I am happy to kill flies and examine them under a microscope but I avoid doing the same with bees.

Our Hacquetia clearly does receive insect visitors. 7 April, 2018
Our plants of Pale Corydalis, Pseudofumaria alba, formerly Corydalis alba, are now in flower but are hardly exciting. I grow it largely because it makes a change from the yellow version, P.lutea. Despite its appearance it is a member of the Poppy Family, Papaveraceae. It is said to be pollinated by bees but I have never witnessed an insect of any type paying a visit.
Pale Corydalis, Pseudofumaria alba, is interesting rather than exciting.
Our garden at Stefen Hill, Daventry. 7 April, 2018

A few logs and chunks of sawn tree trunks are distributed around the garden and I was inordinately pleased to see that one bore a specimen of Daldinia concentrica. Known as Cramp Balls or King Alfred's cakes the fruiting body, when cracked open, displays concentric pale rings.
Daldinia concentrica on a sawn piece of tree trunk in our garden.
 7 April, 2018
It is a very common fungus and my pleasure arose simply from the fact that it was present in our garden. Handy if ever the dreaded cramp strikes!

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