Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Making the best of it

It has been several days since I last posted a blog. The reason is simple yet, on the face of it, illogical: I haven't had my camera. I need a camera to give authenticity to what I write, backing up my otherwise dull narrative with photographic evidence.

Anyway, yesterday my camera was returned, its cracked screen replaced. I'm good to go!
I set off around Byfield, my equipment in my hot little hand and trembling with excitement and of course there was nothing of interest, zilch, zero or, to put it in its simplest terms, the unadulterated quintessence of nihility.

It was a murky, drizzly day and the spire of Holy Cross church was almost lost in the mist.

The spire of Holy Cross church, shrouded in mist.
Byfield, 5 December, 2018 
I strolled down to the cricket pavilion, noting the clumps of Pendulous Sedge, Carex pendula, beside the stream and the masses of dead leaves beneath the poplar and lime trees.
Pendulous Sedge borders the brook, a tributary of the River Cherwell.
5 December, 2018

Among the leaves were tufts of the lichen Ramalina fastigiata. Even where there is significant air pollution this species clings on (or in this case fails to cling on, having been dislodged from branches by wind or rain). Its disc-like ascocarps, like the rest of the thallus, are of the palest green and quite distinctive.

Ramalina fastigiata is one of our commonest of our fruticose lichens.
Byfield, Northants. 5 December, 2018

Flowers were largely absent with even the bedraggled, off-white corymbs of Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, failing to make much of a floral impact. If mown regularly the plants develop a feathery sward, which I find rather attractive.

Whether we call it Milfoil or Yarrow, it is still a tough plant.
Byfield, 5 December, 2018

In fact the only flowers of note were to be seen in gardens where the primrose-yellow blooms of Jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum, brought cheer to garden walls. My grandmother always called it jessamine, a name once commonly used in Victorian times. The root of the generic name is not the usual Latin or Greek, coming instead from the Persian word, Yasmin. This may in fact be traceable back to the Chinese word Yingchun, meaning 'the flower that welcomes spring'.

Winter Flowering Jasmine is not a true climber, having no means of
self-support. Charwelton. 5 December, 2018
Lacking fragrance, or at least none detectable to the human nose, this member of the Olive Family, Oleaceae, must rely on its colour to attract insects, but I have never seen the flowers receive a visitor.


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