Friday, 20 July 2018

Thin on the ground

From time to time a working party is assembled to do some maintenance work in Byfield's Pocket Park. Today, as usual, Chris and I reported for duty only to find that, owing to a misunderstanding, only two other people were there. Lynda and Paul were the other attendees but, as I pointed out, what we lacked in quantity we made up for in quality.

It was blisteringly hot but the four of us managed to get some useful work done, shifting weeds and cutting back encroaching shrubs. One of the shrubs present was probably Tutsan, Hypericum androsaemum. It is rather like a small flowered H. 'Hidcote' but that popular garden cultivar is sterile, and this plant had clearly grown from seed. I must take a closer look at it shortly.

This plant, apparently of Tutsan, had clearly grown from seed. Byfield
Pocket Park. 20 July, 2018
Despite their rather neat pink panicles of flowers I am not fond of Spiraea salicifolia or its hybrids. They are dull for eleven months of the year, but butterflies clearly take a different view and this Gatekeeper, Pyronia tithonus, was content with what was on offer.

Gatekeeper at a spiraea.
On a far smaller scale, with a wingspan of about 16 mm, a purple and gold moth was also flitting about. Pyrausta aurata is one of the prettier of the micro moths. Known as the Small Purple and Gold it must be carefully distinguished from the Common Purple and Gold, P. purpuralis. Oddly enough, in my experience, the Common Purple and Gold is slightly less common than its congener.

Small Purple and Gold in Byfield's pocket park. 20 July, 2018
The larvae of P. aurata feed on, amongst other plants, Marjoram, of which there was plenty in the pocket park.

By this time a party of ravens had arrived, apparently mocking our efforts, laughing at us with deep croaking laughs. Perhaps they were amused by the fact that, despite our weeding, I was deliberately leaving 'weeds' of interest. One such plant was Yellow Toadflax, Linaria vulgaris, which as far as I could recall, was 'new' to the pocket park.

Yellow Toadflax. Note the long 'tails', which distinguish Linaria from
Antirrhinum. Byfield Pocket Park, 20 July, 2018
I have to say that our work resulted in the area looking far tidier that when we had arrived but, as Pom Boddington observed, we really need to draw up a plan: what are we trying to achieve and what is the most sensible or logical way of going about it? Simply 'tidying up' is hardly an aim in itself.

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