Friday, 24 May 2019


At Foxhill Farm Matt Moser is employing a variety of techniques to increase the diversity of wildlife on his land. The changes won't come overnight but already some of his efforts are bearing fruit.

Hedgerows over much of this region are basically hawthorn. It is cheap, grows easily, is subject to few diseases and with just a little effort can be made stockproof. But Matt is looking to enrich these hedges, a good example being the one on the western edge of the farm which forms the boundary between his land and the A361. Yesterday Chris dropped me off en-route to Byfield where she was meeting friends and I took a closer look.

Hawthorn is still the basis of the hedge and is, of course, excellent for wildlife. Spot the shield bug? It is centre-right on the photograph, a specimen of the Green Shieldbug, Palomena prasina.

A green shieldbug is halfway down on the right hand side.
Foxhill Farm, 23 May, 2019

Native shrubs have been included in the hedge, which was re-laid a few months ago. The treatment looks harsh but recovery is rapid. The Guelder-rose, Viburnum opulus, is flowering well and is very eye-catching.

I am always pleased to see Guelder-rose. Foxhill Farm, Badby, Northants.
23 May, 2019
Less obvious are the flowers of Spindle, Euonymus europaeus. Its season of glory will be the autumn, when the lovely, sealing-wax pink fruits will be attracting birds. At least three galls are known to occur on spindle. None is obvious without careful examination but I'll try to keep an eye open for them.

The simple flowers of Spindle are not obvious to us but small insects
 manage to find them. Foxhill Farm, 23 May, 2019

Scrambling through herbs around the base of the hedge grows Black Bryony, Tamus communis, our only native member of the Yam Family, Dioscoreaceae. (Black Bryony's alternative but little-used name is Dioscorea communis.)

The flowers of Black Bryony are even less obtrusive.
Foxhill farm, 23 May, 2019
 Like spindle its flowers are hardly spectacular and it too is most valued for its autumn fruits which take the form of scarlet berries.

Ox-eye Daisies. Always welcome along the roadsides.
Edge of Daventry, 23 May, 2019
All this is very encouraging. I was also pleased as I walked home to see how well Ox-eye Daisies, Chrysanthemum leucanthemum, are flourishing at the side of the A361. As kids we always referred to them as moon daisies. I hope the authorities can resist spraying them for they not only look attractive but attract plenty of insect life too. Once roadsides are left unsprayed they are one of the first flowering plants to re-colonise these areas. They are one of the parents of the much-grown Shasta Daisies, Leucanthemum x superbum, of gardens.

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