Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Violets and Forsythias

The rain, almost incessant over the last seventy two hours, finally departed today in the early afternoon and I took a stroll, needing to stretch my legs. I strode out along Badby Road West enjoying the damp but fresh air. This road was once the main route from Daventry to Banbury but now comes to a dead end, cut off by the (moderately) new by-pass. This area was once open fields, part of, I suspect, Malabar Farm. The present roadside was once bordered by a hedgerow separating the road from the fields.
Along the base of this vestigial hedge violets still grow, bringing to mind the poem 'To Violets' by Robert Herrick:

                            Welcome, Maids of Honour,
                            You doe bring
                             In the Spring;
                            And wait upon her.

It is presumed that Herrick's poem refers to Sweet Violets, Viola odorata, and the flowers I saw today had a lovely, if fleeting smell.
Sweet Violets bordering Badby Road West, Daventry.
10 April, 2018
Scientists have established that one of the chemicals within this fragrance is ionine, an interesting property of which is the temporary deadening of the receptors in our olfactory system. First you smell it, then you don't.
Another feature helping to identify the species as the Sweet Violet is the leaf shape - slightly variable but generally of a heart shape.
The leaves of Sweet Violet have a distinctive shape.
Violets form a valuable element of our flora, being the food plant for several fritillary butterflies, including the Dark Green, the Pearl-bordered, the Queen of Spain, the High Brown and the Silver-washed. But tumbling over a fence nearby was a plant of virtually no wildlife value at all.
Forsythia sprawls over a fence. Badby Road West, Daventry.
10 April, 2018
Forsythia is a member of the Olive Family, Oleaceae and for many years it was thought to be a hybrid between two Chinese species and bore the name Forsythia x intermedia. More recent research suggests it is a true species and the 'x' has been dropped; it is therefore now Forsythia intermedia. Its spring flowers are bright enough but, although clearly designed for insect pollination I have never seen the flowers receive a visitor and a trawl of various sources suggests that few other people have either. For the rest of the year it is a very dull shrub with little value and I am surprised that it received an Award of Merit from the R.H.S. - but that was back in 1894.
This is the species most often encountered, Forsythia intermedia
A little further another Forsythia was present. It had a rambling habit with paler flowers more loosely strung along the branches in a pendant manner. This, I suspect, is Forsythia suspensa. Neither will find a place in our garden.
Further along Badby Road West was Forsythis suspensa.
10 April, 2018


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