Documenting the seasons of coastal Dorset. I'm a complete amateur so don't trust I'm always right. If ever you see I'm wrong - whether with identifications or in anything else - do say!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010


Last November (More Fungal Ignorance) I showed some flute-shaped fungi
which were growing on a stump in an area which had, until shortly before, been lightly wooded. The trees had been dieing for a while (don't know what of) and whenever there was a wind there was the risk that yet another would fall across the path. They were beautiful in their demise - bark peeling away in great elephant-skin chunks so it was sad to see them go, even if felling was essential.

At the time, I wondered whether the same fungi would appear this year, given the change in their habitat. It didn't - and for a long time, I thought that was it and nothing would come in its place.

For most of the autumn, it was warm and wet and everything kept growing greenly. On and on went the rain, week after week. Ground elder and nettles kept growing, new ones springing up to replace those which had died back or been cut down. I edged them gently aside with my foot to see what was happening. (I don't willingly put my hand into low level vegetation where dogs go!). Nothing.

And they weren't the only fungi missing this autumn. The ones with the rings of colour didn't return (see that same post) and the log which was home to pretty yellow toadstools (The New Linnaeus) has been taken from the ditch. Don't know where it's gone.

Then, at the beginning of December (the 3rd) these - on the stump where the flute shaped ones had been. They were later in starting than the flutes, smaller and more conventionally shaped. They were also tucked inconveniently under the weeds.

They grew. By the 9th December, they were like this.

From a different angle, on the same day.

January 5th - The ground elder is beginning to flop.
It's easier to see them now.

They are growing tatty and an orangey brown.

I thought the cold weather would kill them. When I went to see them on January 10th, I expected to see a slimy mush - but no. Here they are, nestled against what counts as snow round here. (The only part of the British Isles without snowmen.)

And then . . . while preparing this post, I looked back through my files for or a picture showing the empty stump.

As I said at the top, this photo was taken in November, when I thought there was nothing there . . . but . . . but . . . peering into it . . . what I hadn't noticed at the time, even when I was looking for them . . . there they are, little white blobs, shaded, half-hidden and out of focus. If only I hadn't been set on flutes!

When it comes to making you see things -aren't photographs wonderful!

Sunday, 3 January 2010


Here is a boring post about a boring plant. Esther's Worthing bought it as a Christmas tree. In the end, they decided 25cms (10 inches) wasn't quite big enough, even for them. (In her post, she says 10cms but that's because she took Worthing's estimate without checking.)

She doesn't know what it is. I don't know what it is. She asked if I would put photos here in the hope someone (you?) might identify it.

"No", I said, - "It's neither 'loose' nor is it 'leafy'".

"It's only loosely a plant," she suggested, hopefully.

I looked at it - and agreed. So, here it is.

"You realise," she added. "You run the risk of being hounded out of Blotanical?"

I nodded. "Everyone will laugh at us."

"They'll laugh because they'll know what it is and we don't."

I nodded again.

"And they'll get angry because they'll all say it's beautiful, even though we don't like it."

Another nod.

"I think it'll be alright in the end," she said. "They know a bargain when they see one, those Blotanical sorts. That pot is worth £3:00 on its own - and it came with a 'plant' already in it."

Maybe we're covered.

Esther suggested I should take the plant for a walk by so we could get to know each other. I demurred but she chivvied us out of doors so I took it to the sea.

And now for the plant.

Here is its top.

Here is its woody stem. (The plant was lieing on its side at the time.)

And here is its bottom.

One conical plant.

See the cassette case by which to measure it?

Anyone know what it is?

Anyone prepared to sing for its virtues?
P.S. This post will only make sense if read in conjuction with Esther Montgomery's Christmas Post (Part One). Apologies to usual readers for this interpolation. We'll be back to fungi soon.

P.S.  Esther's just been round with the anwer.  It's Chamaecyparis thyoides 'Top Point'.