Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Fighting the Flab

Perhaps 'flab' is putting it a bit strongly but shedding a few pounds wouldn't be a bad thing. I made a start yesterday, losing a pound, but that's all it was - a start.

Today I went for a longish walk around streets in the south of Daventry. That's all you need to know. Read no further because what follows is a tedious account of what I saw. Just an illustrated diary entry really.

As I strode out I could not fail to observe the amount of 'chewing gum' lichen that was on the paving slabs. This is the name frequently applied to Lecanora muralis, and I put its abundance down to the fact that people are more likely to jump in their cars for even short journeys rather than walk. In short, the pavements are under-used.
Lecanora muralis can sometimes look remarkably like chewing gum.
Daventry. 2 January, 2019

There can be no doubt that, if a pandemic wiped out humanity our paving slabs would soon disappear under a thick encrustation of lichens and mosses.

It is quite remarkable how many plants are still in bloom in our gardens. Of course, shrubs such as Viburnum x bodnantense (a hybrid of V. farreri and V. grandiflorum) are planted partly because they are expected to be flowering in mid-winter.

As well as flowering in mid-winter Viburnum x bodnantense is very
fragrant. Daventry. 2 January, 2019

With some other shrubs the flowers are something of a surprise. Ceanothus species are all American endemics and the one photographed, probably Ceanothus thrysiflorus, hails from California. Californian or not, it has no business to be bearing flowers in January, although it is not an infrequent occurrence.

This Californian Lilac bore several clusters of flowers.
Christchurch Drive, Daventry. 2 January, 2019
These so-called Californian Lilacs belong to the Buckthorn Family, Rhamnaceae, and are thus related to our own Common Buckthorn, Rhamnus cathartica. (True lilacs are in the Olive Family.)

A number of herbaceous plants are in flower. Elephants' ears, Bergenia species, are like the Viburnum, expected to be in flower in January, but Centranthus ruber is not. I saw several specimens of the latter blooming today but they are not at their best, looking weather-beaten and generally bedraggled.

Red Valerian was in flower at several places on my route.
Daventry, 2 January, 2019
Lavatera species are the Tree Mallows. Their rose-pink flowers are a feature of autumn gardens but in Daventry town centre a specimen carried many blooms.

Tree mallows were in flower. Daventry town centre.
2 January, 2019
The species is probably Lavatera thuringiaca but the whole group has been subject to much revision and all Lavatera species are now placed in the genus Malva. It should now be referred to as Malva thuringiaca. The flowers are much visited by bees - but not today.

With feet aching I turned for home; paving slabs are not kind to walkers. I paused only to photograph our local Eucalyptus gunnii and surprised a local passer-by who stated: 'Do you know, I pass that tree every day and I'd never noticed the flowers.'
The Cider Gum, Eucalyptus gunnii. Daventry. 2 January, 2019

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