Until July 2017, 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! Meanwhile . . . I've now moved to Halifax in West Yorkshire. Click on the link below to collect the new URL. Don't forget to follow there!

Friday, 17 October 2014


Usually I show you plants. I'm going to show you plants now.

Usually the pictures are silent. You don't know what I hear. What you may not realise is that in one of my favourite spots for plants, if I pop up below hedge level the sea is what I see. Often it's silent because this bit of sea is contained within a massive harbour. But today it was noisy. So were the birds. But the birds were boring. They were taking it in turns to sing or croak or caw. There were Dunnocks. (Pretty.) I think there were Robins. (The best singers of all.) There were magpies squabbling and crows shouting randomly in what they may have thought was a chorus. So I decided that in terms of a sound-scape the sea was best of all. After a couple of minutes of magpies I want to ask in an irritated way if that's all they have to say. Click, click, shriek, click. But I never tire of the sea.

Here, then is a sound track to go with the pictures. I'll not say much about the plants in thm. They're the kind you are familiar with on Loose and Leafy. So I'll leave you to listen to the sea while you scroll down the page. If you don't have the kind of computer which can cope with video clips I apologise. You'll have to imagine a gentle but persistent hum rising and falling with the wind interfering every now and then.

Skeleton of umbrel against a dark sky

This is one of those plants one forgets what they are once the flowers have gone. At least I do. I find white umbeliferous plants hard to identify even in the summer.

(To see what this seed head looked like in September, click here. You'll see some seeds are still hanging on.)

Two fallen haws on muddy ground

Haws are falling.

Quite a lot of them are still on the trees. They are crinkling up and going brown and waggling around on their branches because they are camera shy and the wind is rising.

Ivy flowers and Common Orange Lichen (Xanthoria parietina)
The round things are ivy flowers. Another mystery.

Lichen which is orange (I'd say yellow but it's called Common Orange Lichen - Xanthoria parietina) is changing to green as it gets wet in the rain and general autumn dampness. When the weather is dry, it reverts to yellow. If you look carefully you'll see the lichen on the upper part of the branch is greener than the lower part. In the summer all of this was a mixture of bright orange and yellow. (Here's a picture I took of the same lichen on a nearby branch on a dry day in January last year.)

Do I understand what lichen is? No. To me it's a science fiction creature (I say this every time because I don't get much further forward it's sort of unbelievable - a combination of algae and fungus. When it's damp the algae element (green) shows through the fungal element which contains a chemical (xanthorin) which protects it against the UV rays in sunshine. 

Shrivlled remains from which blackberries have fallen
This is what flowers come to!

Blackberries are falling, leaving brown whirls behind. They look rubbish from a distance but are beautiful close to. (You might want to click the picture to enlarge it.)

Sycamore tree growing under ground in a kerbside drain

And on the way home, out of the way of the sea, the sycamore in a drain we've been following for the last couple of years. It looks a bit tatty but autumn hasn't reached underground just yet.

* * *

Xantharia parietina on Nature Spot
Xanthoria parietina on Wikipedia (if you're in the mood for really, really concentrating).


amanda peters said...

Some lovely observation Lucy..
Amanda x

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Thanks Amanda.

Donna said...

Lucy that was glorious to hear the sea and see the plants especially that lichen...my favorite.

elaine said...

Love the picture of the skeleton of the cow parsley type plant but feel sorry for the poor sycamore struggling to grow down in the drain - it looks like it is in prison - a lifer!

PlantPostings said...

What a creative post--and how nice to have the vision and sound of the sea as you view the lovely plants! I never tire of the sound of the sea either. I couldn't get the video to work, but I'll try again. (I can imagine it, though, and I love it!)

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

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Urban Girl said...

happy to see the sycamore is still there!

Kif (flourishing grace)

Anonymous said...

Glad I'm not the only one who can't identify umbellifers!
Great post - love the colour and texture of the blackberry remains, and the lichen, as always...
All the best :)

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

The sounds of the sea, in all its moods, are always magical to me, I love living so close to it. I share your bafflement when it comes to lichen, more so since I read some of the stuff you have written about it! Umbellifers silhouetted against the sky are another of my favourite things. Likewise the fluffy bits left from sea pinks when they have finished flowering.