Diary 2013

December 31st 2013

The winter has been relatively mild so far with few frosts, no really low temperatures and no snow here in Cheshire although it has, as usual, fallen on the high ground in Scotland. So garden plants are still growing and so are the weeds. It has been a bumper year for apples (we have (Bramleys) and we have picked a fair few but 70% of the crop has been allowed to fall to the ground for the Blackbirds and Fieldfares.

September 20th 2013

The good weather has lasted for virtually all of the summer with the last part in August encouraging large numbers of butterflies to appear compensating to some extent for the dreadful cold start to the year. In our garden alone there were an abundance of whites (Small, Green-veined and Large) on the lavender as well as the occasional small Copper, Speckled Woods, no less than 23 Peacocks on one buddleia, a few Red Admirals and Tortoiseshells but no Painted Ladies.

July 18th 2013

A Wild Flower Society meeting run by Peter Jepson in the Trough of Bowland was mainly aimed at showing the new hybrid Myosotis x bollandica. The day was predicted to be Scorchio and was exactly that in most of the British Isles. But in the the middle of the Trough of Bowland in Lancashire we not only had a stiff breeze so hated by plant photographers but an overcast sky and even a little rain. Just to make matter even worse although I took plenty of photos the vast majority were corrupted files for some reason.

At the end of the meeting I joked with someone that this was indeed a sad day for I would probably never return to this place again in my life. That was July 15th and I returned to take better photos on July 18th which fortunately turned out uncorrupted this time. I wondered if I would be able to find the same spots again but it took only a little observation to find the tell-tale trampling of grassland for which botanists are notorious.

July 14th 2013

We are in the middle of a rare British hot spell where temperatures reach 25 Celsius or higher every day. It is already over one week since any rain fell but we are still able to buy new potatoes from various farms which normally appear for about four weeks from the first week in May. Everything is slow on ukwildflowers.com as I'm collaborating in the creation of an app for the iPhone, iPod or iPad. It will be a downloadable application complete with photographs, descriptions and a method of keying based on Bayesian statistics which give several possible answers depending on what variables you've been able to fill in. Strangely I won't be supplying images, which is usually what most people want, but the descriptions which go under the first photo of the flower. I've already seen the very first effort and it's crammed full of mistakes - much editing needed yet.

May 28th 2013

The cold Spring continued so long that daffodils delayed their flowering until late Spring and early summer, mid spring and even early spring flowers all came out at the same time. It will be possible to see Daffodils (Narcissus poeticus) in flower in June this year. In the garden the recently discovered patch of 80 plus Dactylorhiza fuchsii are going to flower on time but Bluebells, Azaleas, Rhododendrons and Wisteria are all flowering at the same time.

March 30th 2013

March 2013 has broken records for being the coldest march in Great Britain since who knows when. Snow fell in many places in late March blocking roads, burying sheep and bringing down power lines. The Isle of Arran has been without power for days. Although I saw a small tortoiseshell butterfly two days ago, it has remain cold usually less than 5 Celsius in daytime and frosty at night. Daffodils are still not out properly and Snowdrops remain with some flowers on. The forecast is that it will continue cold so we are off to Madeira for a week.

March 13th 2013

March has been largely cold with daffodils still hardly in flower in any number by the roadsides. Snowdrops are still out and in the Wild Flower Society First Week Hunt I only managed to find 36 plants in flower on March 1st. On Tuesday March 5th though we were treated to a Spring day with temperatures going to 17 Celsius in London where we had planned an exciting day clearing out rubbish from a garage in Ealing. On that day we even had to have the cooling on in the car. On 11th, 12th and 13th there was a return to icy conditions with snow in Jersey and Guernsey even. Looking forward to Spring holidays in warmer places.

January 18th 2013

This month has been taken up with trying to identify plants photographed in the August and September trip to Western Australia. This is more difficult than it sound because there are no obvious single sources of book reference for beginners like me. I use several books to try to identify the genus, sometimes the family and then see if the species looks like anything on Florabase (The excellent database provided by the Western Australian Herbarium) or in the books I own. It can take up to three hours to id one plant and still lead to several alternatives. So far I am fairly sure about the identity of 150 new species leaving only a dozen or so to be done. Plenty of time to do this because not only am I retired but also snowed in with the first falls of the winter. However garden Daffodils are out in some places and I have had one report of Lesser Celandines (Ficaria verna ssp fertilis) already in flower in Wales.

January 1st 2013

It's official. Following one of the driest years which led to hosepipe bans in southern England being announced in early 2012, the rest of 2012 was so wet that the whole year records added up to the wettest ever. At present any heavy rain results in some flooding of the roads because everywhere in England (but not western Scotland which is usually one of the wettest places in the British Isles) the ground is now saturated and so all the rain runs off into streams and rivers.

I'm still trying to identify plants from photos taken in Western Australia in August and September and have used Isopogon baxteri (Stirling Range Coneflower) an unusual and beautiful flower as the first plant added to the site in 2013.


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