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Thursday, 25 September 2014

YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR

A chicory flower and convolvulus leaves.
Chicory.
The picture is dark but I wanted you to see the curly stamens.


I'm horribly repetitive. It's because of the seasons. I'll blame it on them entirely. Every year come spring I go and look at a hawthorn tree. Not any old tree; the same one every year. Come autumn, when the haws are almost overwhelming in their colour and quantity I go and see a different tree. Absurd but . .  it just happens. I head back to the familiar.

It's wonderfully reassuring. It may be that what I saw in the spring, or last year, or the year before is still there. Or it might not be. Either way it helps me feel rooted, part of the year. My input is zilch. But it confirms I belong.

A pom-pom of ivy flowers upon which a single bright red haw has fallend
Ivy flowers with a fallen haw.
Unconventional as flowers go but beloved of hoverflies.
Perhaps I also feel a little smug. I could stop people and say 'there were rose-hips here last year. Do you see, there are only three this year and even they are buried in the undergrowth'. It would be getting my own back from all those who stop to ask me what I'm looking at and are disappointed when I say 'the back of this leaf'.



The rose-hips I visit really are missing this year. And, oddly, where there's a gap between hawthorn trees the one on the left has few berries but the one on the right has just as many as usual. Esoteric and completely pointless knowledge!

Branch of a hawthorn tree laden with bright red haws against a blue sky
Haws - the fruit of hawthorn trees. Still in profusion on 25th September.
A sharp wind at this time of year can easily transform the view.

Dark Bush Cricket sitting on a bramble
I was looking for hoverflies. I'm always looking for hoverflies!
And I was eating blackberries as I went.
(One always eats blackberries while walking in autumn.)
Leaning into a bramble across trampled ground
I came across a Dark Bush Cricket.
(Pholidoptera griseoaptera)
There it was. Then it was gone.
I was lucky it paused between leaps.
Stamens are fascinating.
Photography made me see them. I'd never noticed them before I started taking pictures of flowers. And once I'd seen them in their elegance and beauty and different-one-plant-from-another-ness, and the blobs of pollen on their ends . . . all that stuff, I've not been able to stop trying to take their pictures.

Why this happens specially in autumn I don't know. Perhaps because of the light. Maybe it's a time when they show up well. Or maybe it's because the plants which flower at this time of year have especially prominent ones so they catch my attention.

Viper's Bugloss showing how it looks like frost in autumn



I always try to take photographs of Viper's Bugloss seeds - merely for the challenge. They are very tiny and they are held tightly within pale prickles which look like frost patterns. Every year I take a million photographs. Sometimes I'm lucky and one comes out all right. Mostly not. I haven't managed one this year yet. Maybe I won't. The seeds are already falling onto the earth.

A single yellow honeysuckle (Lonicera) flower sticking out from a hedgerow



And finally - the late escapees. Honeysuckle round here isn't truly wild. It's crept out from gardens. And it isn't the right time for it to flower. Many plants seem able to produce a late and surprising flowering and their one-off-ness draws the eye. (And they have dramatic stamens!)

I realise most of the pictures in this post are set against inappropriate paragraphs. But I put them in order before I wrote the post and didn't get round to changing it. You'll cope!

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Three site recommendations. 

House and Garden Spiders (in Dutch.) It's a PDF illustrated chart so you can print it out.

Dave's Garden Site - another of those sites where once you've arrived you hardly want to stop exploring. (Not sure who Dave is. The site is run by a Digital Software company in California. Don't let that put you off.)

The Meaning of Latin Plant Names - on the Seed Site. It's short. It's fun. Try it.

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All photos were taken on September 25th 2014.
As always I rely on iSpot for IDs. I reckon I can identify the Speckled Bush Cricket (Leptophyes punctatissima) but this is the first time I've come across a Dark Bush Cricket long enough to look at it. They don't 'arf boing so!

Posts about these flowers from other years.

Viper's Bugloss - This is a post from June 2012, not autumn. I know there are Viper's Bugloss seeds on this blog somewhere but I can't have labelled them so I haven't tracked them down yet.
Honeysuckle - can't find honeysuckle on this blog. Bet there is some. Better labelling required!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

THERE'S URBAN AND THERE'S URBAN


I have the unfortunate habit of setting out to take photos of plants when it's just about to rain, cloud over, turn into night-time or glare in the unfortunate way which dots white patches all over the place. Today's nigh-on fiasco was to go to the sea when the weather was wondering whether how much mist to through over the scene.

Such is life. Such is seizing the moment. It's often quite random the one you are free to seize.

And I didn't really chose this road either. It was where I happened to be when I looked to see what there was. In a way, the less promising the start, the more satisfying the conclusion.

Some kind of Sow Thistle?
Take the picture above. See the bollards on the pavement? (Over the road on the right.) I crossed to them and walked along beside the fence as far as the bend - the space of three lamposts. All the plants in this post were found along that span. In other words, they are in view - but you'd hardly know if you didn't look. This sow thistle, was about three inches high and caused enough of a blodge on the pristine brick pavement to stand out for a starter and draw me over. Notice the area is litter-free? That's often a bad sign when you're looking for street plants. But I was in luck. Not only is this sow thistle there but it has neighbours. There's some grass, and two others plants - one of them of the same ground-hugging kind as you'll see below.

People interested in sport and spectacle may remember that the sailing events for the 'London' Olympics of 2012 took place in Dorset and were based at the National Sailing Academy on Portland which had been developed with just that in mind.

I don't know what this plant is.
You can guess its size by comparing it with the bricks of the pavement and the small stone.
This road near The Academy is crisp and clear with nothing there beyond what's necessary. A road for cars. A pavement for people. Places for boats to spend the winter. Places for boats to be built and repaired. Warehouses. New. Stark.


(Well, not so new now - which shows how starkly maintained it is.)


It was tempting to brighten this picture to show the red pods more clearly.
But a grey day is a grey day.


There used to be huge oil tanks along this edge of Portland. They were dug up, knocked over, bashed out of the way and the ground levelled for the kinds of industries which take place in 'units'.

Some have plantings of grasses and other tough plants. I'm not sure if these clumps are truly wild or escapees.




The plant on the right) is  Knotgrass (Polygonum aviculare agg.). It was growing along the ground, away from the long blue fence, then standing upright. The segments of its stem looked as if they'd been plugged together in a row. It has pretty little pink flowers which are even less visible than the plant was when I started along the road.

(The clumps of something green along the building opposite are intentional plantings.)





It's not a flowery road. It's not a very flowery time of year. But here's another sow thistle; this time taller - with a yellow flower and white and fluffy wind-powered seeds and brightly coloured leaves.



And more flowers still?

Yes. By the last lampost before the road curves right . . .
The world seems full of different kinds of daisy-like flowers. I don't yet know what this is. Do you? (Take a look at its feathery leaves.)



Street Plant Bloggers
#urbanwildplants

From the long view - not much in the way of wild flowers.

Close to . . . ? Of course - they are always there!

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Do you write about street plants on your blog? Join other Loose and Leafy readers by linking with your discoveries. See the Street Plant Bloggers page for more info.



For the September Street Plant Link Box
Click here.