Diary 2015

December 31st 2015

This is the last entry for 2015 and comes at a time when it is being reported that December 2015 is the warmest December on record. Typically the outside temperature has been in double figures, sometimes as a high as 17 Celsius. There have been few very light frosts but very stormy wet weather (it's an El Ninho year) causing widespread flooding in northern England. In the garden yellow Alstroemeria (Peruvian Lily) are in flower while in the wild summer flowering species like Lapsana communis (Nipplewort) are not only flowering but looking very healthy too.

October 30th 2015

This year I visited Australia for the fourth time in Autumn (their Spring) . No reserves were visited but I was shown some orchids that otherwise I would never have see so small and delicate are the structures. The bush fires of last year also resulted in some plants flowering for the first time in years. I was lucky enough to photograph Red Beaks (Pyrorchis nigricans) which a botanist friend living near had never seen before. The leaves are often seen but the flowers only come after a fire.

In the last week we went to Sydney and three expeditions to the bush and to the Blue mountains yielded about twenty or thirty new species for the web site including the spectacular Warratah (Telopea speciosissima).

August 14th 2015

Only a few trips so far in a warm summer with changeable weather. At Cwm Idwal there were plenty of Lobelia dortmanna in the lake and I found one plant of Saxifraga cespitosa in fruit. The usual ferns and rock plants were still visible (Minuartia verna, Asplenium trichomanes, Club mosses etc) but nothing unusual.

July 1st 2015

So far I have done two European botany trips: one to south western Turkey with Green tours in April and one to the Picos de Europea in June with Naturetrek. Both trips were in the hills and so we endured variable weather. As I make this first entry for a diary in 2015, it is the hottest day of the year since 2006 with day time temperatures in the mid 30s in places and night time temperature above 20 Celsius.

The Common Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) in the garden number about the same as last year: approximately 110 but the fantastic and unexpected addition to my spontaneously created wildflower meadow is the appearance of a single Southern Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza praetermissa) which is in a significantly wetter part of the same patch of land along with two splendid clumps of Carex leporina (Oval Sedge).

We now have all three common species of buttercup: Ranunculus repens (Creeping Buttercup), Ranunculus acris (Meadow Buttercup) and Ranunculus bulbosus (Bulbous Buttercup) in the garden along with Cardamine pratensis (Cuckoo flower), Stellaria graminea (Lesser Stitchwort) and Galium saxatile (Heath Bedstraw). There are other common plants such as Hypochaeris radicata (Cat's-ear), Luzula campestris (Good Friday Grass) and the inevitable Taraxacum officinale (Dandelion), Bellis perennis (Daisy), Senecio jacobaea (Common Ragwort) which I pull up in deference to the local horsey folk, plus grasses and other common garden weeds. This variety of wild plants has just arrived without any deliberate introduction by me. All I have done is to make sure that the soil is poor so that the broad-leaved herbs such as Nettles, Docks and so on are less likely to take hold. Nettles do keep trying to take over the much richer herbaceous beds every year but don't spread to the poor soil of the "meadow".

June 6th 2015

I ran a WFS trip to Llandulas quarry and Great Orme with PJ. Five people signed up but only two turned up on the day so I guess most members have seen the Great Orme specialities by now. We saw some good plants such as Cotoneaster cambricus but there are doubts now about the hybrid sedge at Abergele which may not after all be Carex x ludibunda. Watch this space. PJ is growing it on and in conversation with sedge experts M Foley et al.

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