Sunday, 18 July 2010

Trying times

No walk yesterday following the bad news of our friend Moira's illness and hospitalisation. So visiting at the new Derby Royal hospital was order of the day.
Chores and shopping this morning have kept us from our walk again today, but here are a couple of pictures from the 'archive' to be going on with. Firstly a plant from our walk around the reservoir at Staunton Harold. The Branched Bur Reed (Sparganium erectum) is a handsome, waterside plant. You will only find this plant growing at the sides of still or very slow flowing water as it is very easily uprooted and strong currents will tear it from it's foothold. The flowers are of single sex, but both sexes can be found on the same plant with the male flowers being held above the female ones. Fruits are covered in a water-repellent substance which makes them float about for several months, dispersing their seeds as they travel around.
Next an insect found in our garden and a curious little chap he is too. A Soldier Beetle (Cantharis fulvicollis) is related to the fireflies but is unable to produce light. They get their common, English name from the fact that many of the members of the family are red in colour and reminiscent of soldier's red coats. A most welcome visitor to the garden as they enjoy eating aphids among other things.
Lastly for today a common plant of the pathways around Shipley Park, the Water Figwort (Scrophularia auriculata). This impressive plant stands a good 5ft or more tall, but it's flowers are so unimpressive, that they are easily - and often - overlooked. It isn't until you get close enough to see the detail that the beauty of the flowers becomes clear. It also becomes clear at close range, that the plant is part of the same family as the well-known garden flowers known as Snapdragons (Antirrhinum sp.).
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