Saturday, April 18, 2020

15th April 2020

The long gap of six years is explained by the fact that I have been consigning my thoughts to another blog However, I am moved to return to plain text as I like writing and, hopefully, can move the imaginations of readers more subtly without the glitz of brightly coloured digital pictures.

Much has happened over the last six years: Cynthia, my partner for 62 years died in April 2019, I am now 82 and not in the best of health and have pretty much given up paid work. For the past three months or so the world has been in the grips of the flu-like coronavirus, Covid-19. We, that is my daughter Tana and me, are like the rest of the British population currently in ‘lockdown’ and unable to leave the house and garden except for a few purposes like food shopping and brief exercise. Perhaps this enables me more easily to be able to concentrate on projects like this one.

The Green Sanctuary, though seemingly less species rich than it was, presents a very complex pattern of biodiversity and apparent good health. It has developed a pleasing structure which, to my mind, is just as good, if not better, than a garden and it can be relied on, more or less to look after itself.

Today, as I type I am listening to Les Boréades, an opera written by Rameau when he was in his eighties, I think. There is a lovely interlude called Entrée pour les Muses, les Saisons, les Heures et les Arts which I heard being played by an Icelandic pianist just before I went out to see the Green Sanctuary. I think it would make excellent background music..

Words are only a tiny percentage of the wealth of reality (whatever that is) that a human brain can deliver from a project like this. But where does the reality land?

One thing that puzzles me is that several shoots of ivy have started to climb the tall birch tree but, so far, they only grow on the rough black areas of bark and not on the white. But how does it choose? I am sure ivy does not have agency but there is some factor that influences the shoots. Soon, as they climb, they will run out of black bark and I expect they will then take to the white.

Flowers are starting to appear in rapid succession. Today the first red campion was out, joining herb-roberts, forget-me-not, bugle and dandelions. Two plants of the latter were in golden flower like miniature suns. I have been watching both since last summer and they were seldom unchanging. The leaves altered from summer to smaller winter form and flattened themselves closer to the ground. Buds and flowers only appeared in the last week. The two plants differ in various small features from one another and I feel sure they are separate microspecies, but it is difficult to decide which using the BSBI’s dandelion book (Dudman & Richards, 1997). However, I appeared to be confident about doing this a few years back!

Quite a wealth of fauna today: carder bees, a queen Bombus pratorum and a queen wasp. Various solitary bees and hoverflies on the dandelion flowers and drone flies around Pork Pie Pond[1]. Most impressive was the resident speckled wood butterfly that basked in its usual place on Cynthia’s Stone Ridge and periodically took off for a fly round, or to see off intruders. It had some fierce battles with another speckled wood, the two butterflies spiralling round one another into the branches of the medlar tree and beyond.

[1] Pork Pie Pond is a wide-mouthed glass jar that originally contained a Polish pork terrine.  After the contents were consumed I turned the jar into a small pond buried towards the south west of the Square Metre where I can see it easily from the place I usually sit.  I keep it topped up with rain water.