Day 27: Today is the third Manchester Festival of Nature. This year, due to Covid-19 it has gone virtual! You can check out all the talks and events going on during the day by following their Twitter page, here.
Last year, they had talks on wildflowers and tree identification. So for this post I shall take a quick look at a leaf.
The primary function of a leaf is the manufacture of food for the plant by photosynthesis and the uptake of waters and nutrients.
Day 28: For today’s 30 Days Wild, David and I, with Riley in tow took a three mile meander around Port Sunlight River Park. The weather was showery, with a light breeze. The sun was warm but not warm enough to coax butterflies from their shelter. On arrival we spotted a kestrel hunting, house martins flew over the lake and we sat and rested while listening to skylarks nesting in the scrub. I even saw a new plant, St John’s Wort which a bumblebee was enjoying.
What’s your favourite place to go nature spotting?
Day 15: For today’s Close up Monday, I’m delving deeper into a favourite flower of bees, bellflowers. Bellflowers or campanula (fairy bells) have around 400+ species, native to northern temperate regions. They are either annual, biennial or perennial plants, and flower from spring to late summer. Bellflowers vary in size from dwarf variations to ones reaching 6ft!
One of the most famous bellflowers is of course the bluebell. The many pictures in today’s blog are of siberian bellfowers. These semi evergreen perennials, native to former Yugoslavia have miraculously appeared in cities over the past couple of years. I love how they trail along garden walls with their pale purple hue. The star shaped flowers are always buzzing with pollinators.
Day 28: Everyday on my walk to work, I pass a raspberry cane just growing at the side of the path. I’ve noticed recently that the fruit have begun to turn red, so for today’s 30 Days Wild, I decided to go foraging and pick a few.
I only took a few berries as I wanted to leave some for the birds. The raspberries I tasted were quite bitter. Perhaps due to the lack of sunshine this June?
Do you go foraging? If so what fruits do you collect?
Day 3: Like last years 30 Days Wild, Mondays will be Close Up Mondays. Where I take one species and delve closer.
Today’s Close Up is the anatomy of a plant. I remember in secondary school (a long time ago) being taught parts of a plant such as the petal and the stamen. So, I thought I would revisit this topic.
The plant structure I am focusing on is a flowering plant or angiosperm. According to Britannica.com angiosperms make up 80% of all plants on the planet. A flowering plant is made up of roughly six sections (though plants such as mosses don’t follow the traditional structure):
Roots, Stems, Leaves, Flowers. Fruit. Seeds
Roots: are designed to pull water and nutrients from the soil. Stems: like roots, deliver water and nutrients to other parts of the plant. There are more complex parts to the stem which I won’t delve into here. Leaves: capture sunlight which then turn into sugars as energy for the plant, this is called photosynthesis. Leaves also absorb CO2 and undertake a process of transpiration by absorbing water from the underside of leaves.
Flowers: are the sex organ of a plant. Flowers usually have both male and female parts. The stamen (anther) is the male structure which produces pollen and the pistal is the female. The pistal has two parts, carpel (the ovary – where seeds originate from) and the stigma (where the pollen is received). Petals often attract pollinators, such a bees and birds to the plant for pollination. Pollination is the transference of pollen from the male stamen to the female stigma.
Anatomy of a flower
Fruit: develop when a flower has been pollinated. Fruits are a way a plant can spread its seed. Examples of fruit are berries, apples and rosehips.
Seeds: are the embryo of the plant and come in all shapes and sizes. They are dispersed by various ways such as by the wind or by animals. Examples being acorns and cones.
I hope you enjoyed this concise review of the anatomy of a flowering plant? If you have any comments do post them below. I’ve also included links to helpful websites which I used to compile this post.
Our new female Lady Gouldinan finch, Rize has been in the hospital cage twice in the two weeks we have had her. The first time we think she took a knock falling from her perch and today she is back in the hospital cage after spending all night on the aviary floor. She is sleeping at the moment but hopefully she will recover. Fingers crossed!
My highlight of the week has been that I was able to complete a solo walk with Riley. He is strong and pulls but with the help of a gentle leader I was able to take him to the local park. After this success Riley and I will be going on many more solo walks in future.
My walking has picked up a little this week, my mileage being 41. Bringing my annual total to 636 miles. If you are participating in the challenge, how are you doing?
As you can tell from this post it’s been a quiet week. For my lunch on Friday I managed to incorporate some cooked puy lentils I had recently purchased. I made a puy lentil and quinoa curried stew. I sweated one chopped white onion, and two cloves of chopped garlic in oil before adding the packet of puy lentils and 50g of uncooked quinoa. I threw in a handful of peas and then tipped in a teaspoon of curry powder, a teaspoon of turmeric and half a teaspoon of chilli powder. Then I poured in 500ml of water with one vegetable stock cube and cooked for 15 minutes. It made for a healthy, tasty meal. Do you like cooking with lentils? If so what’s your favourite recipe?
Puy Lentil with Quinoa Curried Stew
At the weekend, David and I took a trip to Lady Green Garden Centre. I had an empty pot to fill and managed to purchase a polemonium and night scented phlox.
Night Scented Phlox with Artie
Rize and egg
A Happy Note to End With:
An update on Rize. After placing the hospital cage near a radiator (for warmth) and David had massaged her vent, this afternoon Rize laid an egg! The task was long and arduous and Rize at present is resting.
Since then, I forgot to participate in spring and summer. So I decided that I was overdue to do another one. I chose the glorious season of autumn in the hope of finding new variations of the colours.
The colours of the bingo are: red, black, white, grey, yellow, pink, cream, brown and green. Here’s what I came up with from my yarden for each colour.
The striking colour red features highly in the yarden this year. There are falling blueberry leaves, cotoneaster berries and ripening autumn growing raspberries.
Black is a hard colour to find. As it had been raining today I chose the black of wet soil. Not very imaginative I know, sorry!
White was a no-brainer. I picked the white of the late blooming dahlia. The hot summer of 2018 had severely stunted the growth of the dahlia, but I managed to get three flowers from it this year. Better than nothing!
Bumblebee on Dahlia
Grey Jasmine bark
Bee on honeysuckle
For grey I chose the bark of the jasmine, while for the yellow I selected the lone honeysuckle flower still soldering on.
Pink was an easier colour. I could have chosen the pink of the penstemon or the delicate flowers of the verbena but I decided to go with the successful sedum.
The luscious petals of the fuchsia I chose for cream. This year has been the best showing of the fuschia. Perhaps the heat of the summer helped?
For brown I picked the brown leaves of the heuchera.
The colour Green, as you can imagine is abundant in the yarden. The ivy plant I deliberated was the best to depict this colour.
There were also the colour blue and purple in the yarden. For blue I chose the lithodora blue, while the purple I chose the beautiful salvia mystic spires. My yarden isn’t complete without this autumn flowering shrub.
Common Carder Bee on Lithodora Blue
Honey bee on Salvia
Perhaps you too can join in the colour bingo? Let me know what colours you find?
Day 8: It’s Friday! The focus of today is to ID a plant.
On the 30 Days Wild Facebook page, here. There was some debate as to whether a plant was the deadly nightshade or the woody nightshade (bittersweet). I had noticed a purple flower among the wild roses whilst on my walk to work and thought I would take a closer look.
The plant in question has purple flowers with a yellow stamen. The leaves are a broad heart shape.
There is much confusion online about this plant. However a few informative videos on YouTube helped me identify the plant as the less harmful woody nightshade or bittersweet.
Apparently the flowers and berries of the deadly nightshade are completely different to the bittersweet. I doubt it would be wise to attempt to eat either plant’s berries.
Have you come across the deadly nightshade or the bittersweet?
Well week three has been a much more enjoyable week. I think the sunshine and 25°+ temperatures have helped raise the mood.
With a bit of forward thinking I was also able to plan my posts and managed to gather enough photographs and subjects to hopefully make the post more informative. Let me know your thoughts.
Day Fifteen: Thursday.
Last year I didn’t have much luck with growing my own vegetables. I tried growing peppers, green beans, spring onions and tomatoes. All perished. The only success of the summer was the maris bard potatoes, and I got two harvests from them!
So this spring I decided to get the same variety in the hope of getting a bumper harvest of gorgeous new-potato-type earlies. However, ‘the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry’. I planted the chits in March/April and waited for the plants to grow and the flowers to appear. This year nothing happened, save the plants in the grow bag yellowed and some died. I watered them during the dry spell and decided on Thursday to rummage in the soil to see if there were any potatoes grown. There were, but they all looked like this!
I was so upset! What had happened to my lovely potatoes? After doing some reading online I found there could be a number of reasons my potatoes looked like they had acne.
The spots could be a nematode, or microscopic worm.
There was a lack of moisture in the soil during hot weather.
The spots could be early blight, a fungus spread by rain and hot temperatures.
I suppose you only learn as a gardener if you make an attempt at growing. Perhaps last years harvest was a fluke? I have centurion onions growing in a bag too. I wonder what they will look like come harvesting?
Have you had a diseased riddled harvest? Let me know your stories.
Day sixteen: Friday.
All week, our female blue-faced parrot finch (Forrest) has been laying tiny white eggs. This got me thinking, how is an egg actually made? So I did a little research.
The egg as we know it is assembled inside out! The yolk comes first and is released via the oviaries. Fertilisation (if applicable) occurs once the yolk is released. The yolk then passes along the oviduct where the albumen and membranes are created. Calcification occurs at the shell gland and this produces the egg shell. Shell production can take up to 20 hours and the whole process lasts around 24 hours!
If you are interested to know more, then follow this link here, and here, and here.
Since 2015, when I began participating in 30 Days Wild, I have grown borage for bees. This year has been no different. I harvested the seeds from last years plants and sowed them this spring. Right on cue for June the new plants have begun flowering. The bees love them and they are also my something blue for 2017!
Day Eighteen: Sunday.
Having never picked our own fruit before I was very excited to try! I found a local farm, Claremont, on the Wirral, who have a pick your own season. So David and I visited this weekend. On arrival we opted for two small punnets and headed towards the field where hundreds of strawberry plants were growing. The farm was very busy with families. We chose our row and began foraging among the strawberry plants. We found big juicy fruit, the smell was delicious!
Having filled our punnets to the brim we took them to the farmer who weighed the harvest and the cost was £6 for the two punnets. I thought it was reasonable, with the guarantee that the fruit is fresh having picked them straight from the plant. We will definitely visit again.
Have you picked your own? What fruit do you prefer?
Day Nineteen: Monday.
Nicky at Too Lazy to Weed wrote a wonderful blog about plant pots for pollinators an initiative by Butterfly Conservation. They offer a planting guide for beginners and ask for participants to log their pots on a map and state what plants you have for pollinators. I have numerous pots and plants for pollinators so it wasn’t difficult to participate in.
Here are a few pictures of some of the plants I have in the yarden for pollinators.
Bumblebee on Dahlia
Honey Bee and Passion Flower
Some pollinator friendly plants are:
Perhaps you can plant a pot for pollinators and help out our hungry insects?
Day Twenty: Tuesday.
I’ve decided to showcase two bees who have been seen visiting the yarden. 1. the leaf-cutter bee and 2. the honey bee.
The hive is structured with a queen, worker bees (females) and drones (males).
Prefer simple, open flowers.
Carry their pollen in baskets on their hind legs.
Day Twenty-one: Wednesday.
The Summer Solstice. Last year I got up at 4 am and listened to the dawn chorus. This year since having a long day at work, (and I mean a loooong day at work). I decided to look for alternative ways of celebrating the solstice.
Solstice is the Latin for ‘sun seems to stand still.’ Some see the solstice as the beginning of summer, whereas others see it as midsummer. The sun is at its most northerly position (and at winter it’s the most southerly). The solstice occurs due to the tilt of the Earth at 23.5°. In summer the Earth is tilting towards the sun and for the UK the summer solstice means approx. 16 hours of sunlight, the longest day. During the winter solstice the opposite occurs (approx. 8 hours of sunlight), meaning the shortest day.
Thought.co have some good ideas on how to celebrate the summer solstice.
I can’t remember where I saw it now, but I read that making a herbal brew was also a way of celebrating the solstice, so I decided on attempting a rosemary tea.
Rosemary is full of antioxidants (supports the immune system), has vitamins A and C and is helpful in boosting memory. Shakespeare in Hamlet, (act four, scene five,) has Ophelia saying (in her maddened state), ‘there’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember.’ It can also aid relaxation, ease anxiety and help digestion. So I thought I would give it a try.
Ingredients (makes one small mug):
I used two tablespoons of finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves (cut fresh from the yarden).
One cup of boiled water or 250ml.
Leave to steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
Strain and drink.
I decided to drink the infusion whilst listening to Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, based of the William Shakespeare play. I listened as a muggy day turned to a cooler evening.
The infusion created a green tea. Rosemary is a very aromatic herb and the tea was very florally. I think I preferred the music to the drink.
What is your favorite herbal drink?
What a diverse week, week three has been! From failed potato harvests to gorgeous strawberries! I have tried to share new experiences and facts I’ve learned.
What random acts of wildness have you enjoyed doing this week?
This week I have been out and about a little bit more than in previous weeks. While going for a coffee with mum, doing some temporary note-taking work and meeting up with a friend for lunch, I kept one eye looking for signs of autumn.
Slowly but surely Liverpool is becoming enveloped by autumnal colours. I took a leisurely walk around the University of Liverpool campus and visited Abercromby Square. Though still looking verdant, the tree tops are slowly turning golden. I also came across a Barbara Hepworth sculpture and one by Hubert Dalwood.
square with two circles – b hepworth
three uprights Hubert Dalwood
Since I have been getting up before the sunrise this week, I have seen some lovely skies.
Honey bee on Salvia
Though the days (and especially the mornings) have that bitter chill to the air, there are still plenty of honey bees visiting the salvia.
On Thursday I met a friend in town. As I was standing waiting for the bus, a robin sat atop a gravestone in the nearby cemetery and sang to me sweetly. I just wish I had taken a photo of him, his presence filled my heart with gladness.
My friend and I took in a visit of the World Museum, which boasts a planetarium among its many assets. This got me thinking of the northern hemisphere’s night sky in autumn.
On a clear night looking north most people can identify the Plough, (Ursa Major), which points to the pole star, Polaris.
Looking south, the square of Pegasus is deemed the main autumn constellation. However, for me, the most autumn constellation is Orion to the east.
October is also the time of year for the Orionids, the remnants of Halley’s Comet. This meteor shower ranges between 16th – 26th of the month, peaking on the 21st.
And finally, I have found some informative resources on the Forestry Commissionwebsite. Follow the link for activity packs, mindfulness poems and an interactive map, showing the changing colours of various forests in the UK.
I’ll end this week with a recording of Tchaikovsky’s Autumn Song. Have you been following the changing seasons? What, if anything do you like about this time of year?