Monday, 29 June 2015

Warming Up

After such a cool spring, things have started to warm up a bit now, with the promise of a lot more heat to come over the next few days. Possibly a little too much for my liking, but Malcolm will be happy.
So, this morning, we took the flask with us and set out for Mapperley Reservoir.
Without a doubt, the most striking thing about the reservoir at the moment, has to be the vast number of Water Lilies.
It seems wherever you look, there are hundreds of them.
Swimming about in amongst the lily pads, thousands of fish fry are to be found, using the pads as a nursery with many hiding places if needed.
Having enjoyed the water, it was time for the flask to come out and for us to take in the sights of the picnic area - seen here, a few weeks ago when there were fewer leaves on the trees.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Setts and Spots

Along the green lane which leads to Brook Farm, near Mapperley Village, the careful observer will note the unmistakable excavations of a Badger sett.
Fresh soil has been scraped away from the hole as the Badgers within have obviously been doing a little housework.
It seems that everywhere at the moment, Common Spotted Orchids are blooming - and blooming marvellous!
This morning's walk around Straw's Bridge, took us through the wild meadows of Pewit Carr. This meadow is absolutely breathtaking with flowers and the orchids are among the more common - and beautiful.
Growing among the Orchids and grasses are the Yellow Rattle flowers. Semi-parasitic, they take some of their nutrients from the grasses, thus keeping them in check and allowing the other flowers to get a foot-hold.
Looking closely at the Yellow Rattle flowers (Rhinanthus minor), you find that the upper lip of the flower has two, violet coloured 'teeth', adding to the rich colours of the meadow.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015


The path sides are filled with yellow flowers at the moment. Yesterday, I mentioned the Bird's Foot Trefoil and the Evening Primroses, but there are many more. Among the best and most obvious are those belonging to the Ribbed Melilot (Melilotus officinalis).
This is another member of the Pea family and quite a stately one standing about 5ft tall and covered with long racemes of bright yellow flowers.
A closer look reveals the pea-like flower form.
In the more boggy - if not wet - parts, Yellow Flag Iris are still in bloom and always good value when it comes to adding a bit of 'show' to the countryside.
These beauties were growing along the margins of Osborne's Pond a few days ago.
Lastly for today, a small flower which is easily overlooked when walking through the more wooded areas. Common almost everywhere and a bit of a pain if you get it in your garden, this is the Wood Avens or Herb Bennet (Geum urbanum).  This plant belongs to the rose family as is obvious when you take a good look at the flower, like a small, yellow Blackberry flower, to which it is related.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Nutbrook Canal

The Nutbrook Canal was built to serve the collieries of Shipley and West Hallam. Completed in 1795, it closed again about 100 years later, in 1896.  Parts of the canal still remain and near to where we live, there is a short section still flowing. Recent clearance of brush and trees by the Midlands Electricity Company, has opened this part to the light.
Here, the remains of an old lock can still be seen clearly. I'm not sure , but I think this is all that is left of what was called Mapperley Lock.
Whatever it is (or was) the water still tumbles through it and the removal of some of the trees has meant that we can get see it much better.
Further along the old West Hallam mineral railway lines, where railways and heavy industry once filled the area with smoke and filth, wild flowers now grow in abundance. Bird's Foot Trefoil...
Evening Primroses...
and Perforate St John's Wort were all in full bloom this morning, much to my delight and the delight of the bees too.  All a far cry from the days when the canal and the railways were in full use.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Mid Summer?

Having now passed the mid-point of the year, Christmas is not far off!  Despite that, the summer flowers are making a brave attempt to fill the hedgerows and byways with colour. Among the most numerous are the Ox-eye Daisies.
Always popular with inescts, they make a lovely show.
Less showy perhaps, but no less important to the insects are the Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata).
This is also a useful plant in traditional herbal remedies. Tea made from the leaves of the Ribwort Plantain has been used to treat respiratory problems, infection and various skin disorders.
Leaving the wild flowers aside for the moment, we have quite a few Potentilla shrubs in flower around what used to be the car parks of the American Adventure theme park.
Part of the Rose family, they are a common sight in gardens and parks and really rather attractive in full flower.

Thursday, 18 June 2015


The 'canine' of today's title, refers, not to the rather bouncy and lovable (and often wet and muddy) dogs we see on our walks, but to the plants which have various 'doggy' parts to their names. Starting with the Dog Rose (Rosa canina).
With their large, pink blooms and delightful - if rather feint - rose fragrance, these are a common sight in the summer hedgerow.
Scrambling about with the aid of their vicious thorns, Dog Roses make a lovely show, despite the name 'dog' meaning worthless. At this time of year, they are far from worthless.
The next canine name belongs to the Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea).
Foxgloves are also flowering in the countryside right now, but in far smaller numbers than the Dog Roses around these parts. So, these lovely, tall flower spikes are to be found in our back garden and I'm glad I sowed the seeds last year, because they've made a wonderful show.
These came from a mixed packet of seed although we seem to have only two different colours at the moment. A few white flowered ones are interspersed with the more normal purple/pink ones. But all are beautiful. And the bees love them!

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Bee Orchid

This morning found us hunting for Bee Orchids on Shipley Park.
In recent years, we have noticed these gorgeous little plants spreading across the old overflow car parks of what is now Shipley Woodside Nature Reserve.
But this year, they really seem to have taken off.
In some areas, it was tricky trying to find somewhere to stand without treading on the delicate flowers.
Bee Orchids (Ophrys apifera) are supposed to attract pollinating bees with the promise of sex, only to disappoint the hapless little insects.  In Britain however, the particular species of bee which these Bee Orchids mimic, do not occur, so the orchids are self pollinating in this country.
Nevertheless, they are obviously quite successful in pollinating themselves - as these delightful and spreading little plants prove.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Local Colour

Staying with the spectacle to be seen on our own 'patch', today we have a few pictures of some local colour. We kick off with a Laburnum tree growing near to the edge of the estate.
Although this particular tree has now lost its flowers, it was rather beautiful while it lasted.
It's Orchid time again and the Common Spotted Orchids are just starting to open their pink flowers.
These particular little beauties were growing in the wet meadow of Pewit Carr and are just the start of a many more to come.
Even closer to home and we come to a few flowers to be found in our back garden. Firstly, a native wild flower which you don't see much of in the countryside these days. Corn Cockle (Agrostemma githago) has been persecuted by farmers for many years and to such an extent that it is now on the 'at risk' list in many countries.  All parts of the plant are poisonous, which is why it has been so reviled by farmers.
In the lawn, we have one or two patches of Daisies (Bellis perennis). Probably one of our most recognisable flowers, it too is persecuted by many, but not in our garden. We love them growing in the lawn.

Monday, 15 June 2015


It's often worth taking a look at things from a  different perspective. Recently, we took a walk around Mapperley Reservoir and while we were walking through the trees, looking up, through the canopy to the blue sky above, was quite rewarding.
With the sun filtering through the new foliage, it made a lovely picture.
In our own back garden, the Foxgloves we've planted this year, have proved very popular with the bumble bees and it's strange to see the flowers from the bee's point of view.
The spots in the throat of the flower, help to guide insects to the nectary deep inside. Closer in and the structure of the flower guides the bees further in so that pollen on the anthers which can be seen on the upper surface of the flower, brush off onto the bee.
All a bit strange looking!