It’s already December but I just managed to sneak in my November walk around Crowtrees at the end of a busy month at work and some truly horrible weather. I didn’t have much choice of days and sped round the five miles in less than two hours, partly because there was much less in flower but largely, I suspect, because the weather didn’t encourage dallying!
The 20 or so species I still found flowering this month are mainly familiar stalwarts, hanging on by the skin of their teeth and looking distinctly bedraggled. The last of the buttercups and campions are long gone, whilst Shepherd’s-purse and Hoary mustard are the only flowering Brassicas. There are a few soggy Bramble flowers but a big change in the hedgerows is the disappearance of the last of the Bindweed trumpets.
Red and white clover can still muster a few flowers, as can the Ribbed melilot on the verges of the new road – I suspect this to be a vigorous ‘wildflower mix’ strain, as the melilot on Crowtrees reserve has long gone over.
Red clover, Trifolium pratense (left) and Ribbed melilot, Melilotus officinalis (right)
Herb Robert from the geranium family and Hogweed from the Apiaceae are amongst my favourite ‘weedy’ wild flowers, perhaps because they survive through the worst of the weather. The second flush of flowers on road verges cut earlier in the summer are a bonus alongside the delicate, umbrella-like seed heads of plants allowed to mature.
Hogweed, Heracleum spondylium
Perhaps the most surprising late bloomer is a single Field scabious flower, Knautia arvensis, hoping to attract tardy pollinators.
Like last month, the biggest plant family still in bloom is the daisy family or Compositae (see Crowtrees LNR, April 2018) – by now they represent around half the total number of species, from Yarrow and daisies through to sow-thistles, dandelions and mayweed.
Scentless mayweed, Tripleurospermum inodorum
What makes this group so successful over an extended season, I wonder? Will they still be flowering in December?
The hawthorn trees along my route are still dripping with fruit but it’s too wet for any of the winter bird migrants which I know are here to make an appearance – I make a mental note to come back with binoculars on a clearer day to try and get a closer look at the fieldfares and redwings I’ve seen when I’ve been running recently.
I’m pleased to see that more of the hedges which line the path have now been ‘laid’, if surprised at the diameter of some of the trunks which have been cut through. I imagine it’s a pragmatic decision to deal with a short section of the hedge each year as it’s a fairly major task to do this by hand. I commented last month (Crowtrees LNR, October 2018) how well the hedge laid last year is now developing.
Sections of native hedgerow laid in 2018 (left) and 2017 (right)
One of the pleasures is the catkins now developing on the specimen hazel, alder and birch trees which are a timely reminder that even on a dreich day like this, spring is not far away.
Hazel, birch and alder catkins, left to right
The ponies are back on the reserve itself now too, keeping unruly grasses from taking over whilst creating a muddy swamp around the ponds. One more month to go and then there will be the fun of looking to see which plants have flowered every month and which are the most transient. Here is November’s list of species for now.
|Hoary mustard||Hirschfeldia incana|
|Bramble||Rubus fruticosus agg.|
|Ribbed melilot||Melilotus officinalis|
|Red clover||Trifolium pratense|
|White clover||Trifolium repens|
|Petty spurge||Euphorbia peplus|
|Herb Robert||Geranium robertianum|
|Common field speedwell||Veronica persica|
|Field scabious||Knautia arvensis|
|Common knapweed||Centaurea nigra|
|Hawkweed sp.||Hieracium agg.|
|Common ragwort||Senecio jacobaea|
|Perennial sow-thistle||Sonchus arvensis|
|Smooth sow-thistle||Sonchus oleraceus|
|Scentless mayweed||Tripleurospermum inodorum|