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!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

AN EVENING AMBLE

Alexanders (Smyrnian olususatrum) and dead gorse.
Setting out for walk just as the mist rolls in may be pleasant - it is - but it's not the most practical time for taking photographs for a blog. Trees I like were in shade; plants in the dullness below bushes. Streaks of sunlight landing on this but not necessarily on that.

It didn't matter. I didn't know what I was looking for. I was out on an evening amble - not a ramble, note; a little stroll nowhere in particular to see what I could see.

Spring, as I note every year, has a lot in common with autumn. Chills and warmth waltz arm in arm. There is death - last year's leaves which have clung on through winter give up and fall. It becomes clear which bushes have died and which merely dormant.

Some Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) are beginning to produce early flowers. Some of the gorse is flowering. We haven't had frosts. The weather has become unpredictable. Most years, you can go out in the morning and find the young Alexanders all flopped over, frost zapped. That hasn't happened (yet?) but their own special rust (Puccinia smyrnii) seems to have got a head start, bringing their leaves and stems out in bright yellow wart type growths.

Alexanders flower and fly.
I'm trying to remember who it was recently who said they didn't like the smell of Alexanders' flowers. (Was it you?) I was surprised. The accumulation of scent when the weather warms up is fantastic - delicate, ethereal yet unmissable. I am not the only one to like them They are pale yellow, large and rather clumpy and not necessarily noticeable except against a blue sky. But flies like them. Ants too.



And then I went to visit the Holm Oak (Quercus ilex).
Do you remember? I nearly chose it as 'my' tree-following tree. We've had a wet and wild winter. Over one night, this tree had to endure nigh on a hurricane force, salt laden wind. It's leaves are supposed to be ever green. Look at it now.

Holm Oak (Quercus ilex) with dead leaves.

The light of evening was patchy. The lowering sun was tinging the Alexanders and dead gorse with a warmer glow than they'd shown in the morning. But these leaves . . . these leaves are not just being caught in a golden light. They are beautiful. But they are dying.

* * * * *
When looking for the spelling for Puccinia smyrnii I came across APHOTOFUNGI - photographs of fungi found in South West England, especially Devon and Cornwall. Devon is the next county along going west from Dorset (where I live) but even if the collection on APHOTOFUNGI had been photographs from another continent I would have enjoyed browsing the site. You might too so I've added it to the Loose and Leafy page of internet places you might go for help with identification. The list is random; sites I come across by chance and like - and remember to put there!

And a note about Tree Following - it's never too late to join the growing list of participants. (72 to date.)

20 comments:

Juliet Froedge said...

Wish I had such a lovely place to take a stroll...beautiful tree and flowers!

flightplot said...

A most enjoyable ambling post. Flighty xx

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Hello Juliet. I am very lucky to live where I do - especially as it is by chance rather than choice.

Thanks Flighty. Glad you enjoyed it.

ADRIAN said...

Great shot of the fly. Is it a Lace wing?

Caroline Gill said...

I wonder what will happen to the Holm Oak this season. And yes, a good picture of the fly (not a Lacewing, I think?) ... it's great to see insects emerging.

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Hello Adrian and Caroline. I put the fly on iSpot and a couple of people think it might be A Window Midge (Anisopodidae). Here's the Wikipedia link
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anisopodidae
What do you reckon?

The trouble is with flys et al . . you end up having to count the lines/divisions on their wings and I can't say my desire to know what it is is so strong that I want to spend the time on it. I will content myself with 'fly'!

(I think lacewings are (in my eyes) prettier.

ofgardens.com said...

I don't know what an Alexander flower is...I must explore it.

amanda peters said...

Great post, just started recording Wild flowers last year, hoping to get a lot more this year. Had never seen Alexander befor and read about it on another Blog and you have also posted a photo. I was lucky enough to have a long weekend in Robin hood bay (14-16 th March) and there all over the hill side on the way down to the beach was Alexander plant.
Started recording trees this year, so look forward to seeing you record your trees

Dartford Warbler said...

Alexanders used to grow along the seaside road that led to my parents`s house. Your post brought back some good memories!

PlantPostings said...

Oh your poor, dear Oak. Do you think it's just a matter of losing its leaves and then it will recover or is the tree, itself, in trouble? I enjoy the Alexanders, too. Such a lovely, early spring bloomer. Thanks for sharing your walk.

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Hello ofgardens - I hadn't come across Alexanders until I came to live here. Oddly, the s is part of the name rather than a plural so you have a single Alexanders plant. I think they are very particular about where they live and they like to live by the sea - where they tend to be profuse.

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Hello Amanda. I've taken a look at your photos of Alexanders - rust and all! If you are recording trees, would you like to join our tree following project? There's information here - http://looseandleafy.blogspot.co.uk/p/what-is-tree-following-and-list-of-tree.html

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Hello Dartford Warbler. I'm glad my post brought back good memories. Alexanders are specially noticeable when it is sunny. In duller light they sort of merge into a mass of green foliage. With bright light on them, the flowers become prominent and the glossiness of their leaves shows up too.

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Hello Plant Postings. I suspect the tree is in trouble - along with quite a lot round where I live. I don't know how readily evergreen trees restore themselves if all the leaves all die at once. I'm wondering whether the roots were rocked because the ground was so wet when the really high winds hit. I'm now regretting I didn't chose the Holm Oak as my following tree - though that doesn't stop me keeping an eye on what happens to it.

Toffeeapple said...

I think it might have been Phil Gates of Cabinet of Curiosities who didn't like the smell of Alexanders. I have never seen any so I am unable to make a comment!

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Hello Toffeeapple. I've checked back through my emails - yes, it was Phil Gates. http://cabinetofcuriosities-greenfingers.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/rampant-rust.html Thanks for remembering.

Caroline Gill said...

Lucy, I'm nominating you for a Lighthouse blog award. You can read about it here. Please feel free to act on it if you so choose!

Catherine Drea said...

The golden light on your Holm Oak is wonderful. Thank you so much for the invite to join you in tree following. If I had a spare minute to commit to it I would love to. Right now I am hanging on by my finger nails just to keep my little show on the road. Delighted to see that you and your blog are still thriving X

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Hello Gill. Thank you so much for nominating me for the Lighthouse Award. Although I appreciate it very much I'm afraid I must decline. I'll leave a reason on your own post.

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

That's ok Catherine. Although it would be great to have you be a Tree Follower (apart from anything else, I so admire your photos) I also know how easy it is to over-commit to things on the internet.