Friday, 14 September 2018

More pocket park maintenance

Once again a select band of locals gathered in Byfield Pocket Park for the first of three scheduled autumn meetings. Despite a very dry summer, with remarkably dry soil as a consequence, plants had flourished mightily. Much of the pocket park is situated on land  on which Byfield Railway Station once stood. This land, and the adjacent ground, has been levelled off at some time with rubble and being very free-draining this has exacerbated the dry conditions.


Typical plants of waste ground occur including Mugwort, Artemisia vulgaris. Most people are familiar with it, not only because of its appearance with deep-cut leaves, greyish beneath and dark glossy green above, but also because of its smell. This is not as pungent as its close relative Wormwood, A. absinthium, but is easily recognised. Indeed its aromatic nature has led to it being used in the past, probably through much of southern England, as a substitute for tobacco. It has a rich folklore associated with it and for millennia it has been employed medicinally for things as diverse as relieving indigestion and easing childbirth. Today my interest in it was limited to an interesting leaf miner, Calycomyza artemisiae.



The leaves of Mugwort had been mined by a fly, Calycomyza artemisiae.
Byfield Pocket Park, 14 September, 2018
This insect is a member of the Agromyzidae Family and is not rare but has not previously been recorded in the pocket park. It was not the only addition to the pocket park list. A tiny fly on a leaf turned out to be Fannia armata. In fact although this is quite a common insect it is the first time I have ever recorded it, perhaps because it is such a small fly.


Mahonia branches burned particularly well.

Pom Boddington has ordered a number of plants including Spindle, Euonymus europaeus, and presumably our next session will concentrate on getting them in before the winter.
Chris broke from her work for a snatch of conversation
As long as Pom provides delicious cake she will be able to depend on a loyal band of volunteers.

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