A Type of Mallow

There are various types of wild Mallow. This low growing one amongst the tall grasses, the Ladies’ Bedstraw and budding Wild Marjoram in the Charlton Down Nature Reserve is, I think, Musk-mallow (Malva moschata). There are only one or two plants there tucked well down in the herbage. Let me know if you think it is something different, please..

Nature on the kerbside

I love to see this. Nature creeping in opportunistically on the kerbside where there has been a degree of relaxation to the normal obsessive but unnecessary Spring and Summer tidying up of our streets by strimming and use of herbicides. It may only be temporary but plants including red valerian, purple loosestrife(?), plantains, birch, spurge, and escapee domesticated daisies, for example, have taken the chance at life around some of the bollards on the edge of the pavement in the centre of the village. Lovely. It enhances our environment, is a resource for wildlife, and increases biodiversity. Several people have noticed hummingbird hawk moths feeding on the valerian flowers recently.

CornCockle

I cannot remember noticing these exquisite pink flowers before. They are Corncockles (Agrostemma githago). There are only a few of them growing in ones and twos deep amongst the flowering grasses and the stems of cow parsley bearing green seed heads. They are difficult to spot, especially when the wind is blowing and the vegetation is swaying. The wind also makes it difficult to get a good shot. You have to wait patiently for the micro-second of calm between gusts before pressing the take button.

Corncockles are described as formerly widespread and common but now extremely scare and erratic because of agricultural herbicides. In this location, the nature reserve at Charlton Down, they have probably been seeded deliberately at some time.

Plants of a wasteground 2

This is an episode in the story of a patch of ground in the village where everything was untended and garden rubbish was dumped for many years. On my regular walks during the two year pandemic period of 2020 and 2021, I often passed by and looked over the fence to see what was new amongst the fast-growing vegetation of this wild place. These are close-up photos of some of the lovely plants that were growing there by chance.

Plants of a wasteground

There was once a patch of ground in the village where everything was untended and garden rubbish was dumped. It had been there a long time. It was bounded by a brick wall with a wooden door on one side and a bar fence on the other. Some roses draped themselves over the fence to partially screen the area. Most people walked past it and paid no heed; but it was a surprising place if you paused to look. There was a wonderful assortment of wild plants, many of them flowering, with additional stray cultivated ones. It was a great habitat in its own right, and provided food and shelter for many insects and birds. To most eyes it was a bunch of weeds, and as such it was routinely cut down as a control measure. The flowers always came back. Here are some pictures showing some of the plants that were growing there a couple of years ago.

Beside the Path 5

The bright yellow flower heads of Winter Cress (Barbarea vulgaris) make a bright splash of colour now the Dandelions are ending their first blooming. The day I went for the walk they had attracted dozens of flying insects that were competing for mates among the petals – all small Ichneumon wasps (Amblyteles armatorius) which are solitary parasites that inject their eggs in other species to develop. Online close-up image below.

Beside the Path 4

Flowering white dead-nettle amongst the leaves of cleavers, common nettles, and hogweed by the side of the path as I walked around the village (17th May 2022).

Beside the Path 3

The new unblemished horse chestnut leaves reach down low towards the waist-high white cow parsley flowers beside the path. Later in the year, the leaves will develop the brown blemishes caused by the larvae of the chestnut leaf miner moth, which is a species that has been accidentally introduced to Britain from Spain.

Beside the Path 2

Flowering grasses and cow parsley by the side of the path as I walked around the village (17th May 2022).

The main grass in the foreground above is Cock’s-foot. The flowers are not yet open and all is still green. – see image below. It’s appearance will change delightfully as the flowers open in a few weeks’ time

Beside the Path 1

Luxuriant foliage and White Dead-nettle by the side of the path as I walked around the village (17th May 2022).

Click on image or expand to see the detail.