Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Overcast

Another dull, dreary and distinctly overcast day today.  But despite that, Malcolm and I did manage to get out for a longer walk around Shipley Park, which took us up the hill and round Osborne's Pond before returning round Shipley Lake.
As we walked around the lake, we were delighted to see that the Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) has begun to flower and its feathery foliage is looking bright and fresh despite the dull weather.
Very common in Britain, this rather lowly member of the Geranium family is nonetheless a beautiful addition to the spring hedgerows and byways.  The foliage is said to repel mosquitoes if crushed and rubbed on the body, but as it is supposed to smell of burning rubber, perhaps the mosquitoes would be preferable.
Among the trees of Shipley Hill, the Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) is also in flower now and the scent from these frothy, white flowers is as indicative of a British Springtime as any I know of.  A member of that large family, the Carrots, this is also believed to repel mosquitoes in the same way as the Herb Robert.  But (there's always a 'but') you have to be careful not confuse it with some of its poisonous relatives, who's sap can cause burning and severe irritation of the skin.  So, probably best to avoid this one too!
Lastly for today, our eye was caught by the trees above the Cow Parsley.  Here, a couple of Horse Chestnut trees (Aesculus hippocastanum) have opened their candelabra-like flowers and they make a wonderful show.  In recent years, the Horse Chestnuts of Britain have been ravaged by the destructive little Horse Chestnut Leaf-miner (Cameraria ohridella), which is the larval form of a tiny moth.  The caterpillar of this moth, lives and feeds in between the top and bottom surfaces of the tree's leaf and 'mines' the green, fleshy parts of the leaf, leaving behind large areas of brown tunnels all over the leaves and an unsightly mess.  But for now, just enjoy the beautiful flowers of this imposing tree.
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