Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mid-May update

20080522 Metre Ranunculus repens 004 

16 May 2008 The smaller birch has many wiggly leaf mines but the larger tree does not seem to be similarly affected.

The black bryony is now about one metre up its pole.

18 May 2008 7.30pm and the sunlight filters through from the north west. It is quite cold.

I have weeded the heather area.

A flower is about to open on one of the three plants of cut-leaved cranesbill (Geranium dissectum) in Submespilus Assart.

Tops have been nipped from one of the rosebays and the perforate St Johnswort. This can only have been done by deer, though I could not find any footprints.

21 May 2008 I have at last done some serious labouring. I tied back the brambles and physically pushed them into North Wall and the box bush where the thorns have, for the moment, held them fast.

I have also lightened up the heather and hornbeam in The Waste and on Bittercress Heath. Despite the volume of arisings I have removed in the last four and a half years, I am sure the land is more fertile that when I began the project and things can be smothered rapidly at this fast-growth time of year.

Heath speedwell (Veronica officinalis) is in flower now and pink is showing on the bud on the campion flower in The Waste. I have found new shoots on the gipsywort, now in its third season and seemingly not minding in the least that it is not growing in a wetland. The only plants struggling a bit are the square-stalked St Johnsworts which appear, once again to be suffering some sort of fungal attack on the leaves, distorting them and somewhat stunting the growth, and a ragwort that has keeled over.

Mosquitoes, Anopheles plumbeus, are everywhere and biting well if they get the chance.

22 May 2008 I bought some new shears and have been keeping Bramble Hedge and other unruly spots in order.

The red campion is now fully out: later than larger plants but determined to make it.

The soft-rush (Juncus effusus) has produced many of its brown flower burrs three quarters of the way up its stems and I wonder if any of the little Coleophora moth caterpillars will make their cases among them.

Creeping buttercups (see picture above) are putting up a respectable show of flower for the first time since this project began. In the past they have been rather shy flowering.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Darkness all day

20080507 South View blackbird in tdead tree 

The first herb-robert flower is out – a white one as they all are in the garden. The medlar is flowering too, though there are still many unopened buds.

The Waste, Mice & Red and Volepasture are all grass stalk verticals like torrential green rain.

A queen hornet plunged into the grass behind Bramble Hedge.

In the hottest part of the day a moth flew round the Waste and the Square Metre.  I am pretty certain it was a small yellow underwing (Panemeria tenebrata) and, as the larvae feed on mouse-ear chickweed, there is plenty to attract it to Emthree.

This small yellow underwing has a wonderful scientific name, especially the 'tenebrata' part.  This is a word that reverberates like rasgueado played on a theorbo.  Our English equivalents like 'dark' and 'shadowy' have a soft sound recalling the oblivion of night, sleep or death, but 'tenebrata' gives simple blackness a complex, vibrant energy like that of the dark matter that pervades the universe (so they say). Use of this word makes darkness seem far from deadness; it denotes a living darkness full of mysterious sound and movement.

The generic name, Panemeria, means 'all day long' so Panemeria tenebrata can signify darkness all day, an apocalyptic vision encrypted in this small moth whose future, like that of so many invertebrates, is far from secure.

As St Augustine said quae peccato tenebrata non est (which sin is not dark) and I am sure he would have called trashing the planet a sin.

I know the real reason for the generic name is that the moth is day-flying and that  'tenebrata' refers to the dark shading of the forewings.  Nevertheless ....

Saturday, May 03, 2008

May Day + 1

Really a quite flowery scene today. The forget-me-nots are at their best and there are about a dozen spikes of bugle, now well distributed from their original 2004 beachhead by Purbeck Slab. The photo shows those next to the fox poo - beauty and the beast.

In the yellow department there are some creeping buttercup and dandelion flowers, though the latter shut towards evening.

The sorrel stems are beginning to up-wind rapidly now and sweet vernal grass continues to advance towards anthesis.

It is amazing how quickly small plants can be overpowered during this May growth surge and I like watching the cat’s-ear rosettes flattening the surrounding vegetation like greedy green wide-armed starfish.

As it is the beginning of May I made the first cut of Submespilus Assart South, initially with scissors, then by hand-grazing. It reminded me of a remark on lawns by Timothy Morton in Ecology without Nature: “They are just a horizontal, mass-produced version of the wildernesses people visit to find peace and quiet and a sense of abstract nature.” He had previously written that “Wilderness can only exist as a reserve of unexploited capital.” Thus a lawn, as a kind of Mortonian wilderness, is a reserve of unexploited capital as the developers who are building houses on the lawns in people’s large back gardens have realised.