Diary 2016

May 22nd 2016

The beginning of May saw temperatures in the mid 20s Celsius all over Britain with even the north west coast of Scotland seeing temperatures normally occasionally experienced in mid summer. Soon the pattern changed back to the familiar warm/wet alternating days with plants flowering just about on time in this part of the world. In the south of the country though orchid reports such as Common Spotted in flower suggest that they are still ahead.

I went to gait Barrows NNR to seek the Lady's-slipper Orchids and found one in flower an the rest a good way behind. They are easy to find in fenced off areas behind the big hut on the main path but each bunch of shoots is protected by a plastic sleeve and slug pellets affording them more care than might be found in the Chelsea flower Show. These introductions are an attempt at conservation of a very beautiful species which isn't entirely genetically similar to the single native plant in Yorkshire. The other parent is the Silverdale which many believe to have been introduced form the continent.

The theory of the near extinction of the Lady's-slipper Orchid usually points to over picking and uprooting by humans but to me anyway there may be another reason. As the human population expanded in Britain and across Europe it did so in very unequal societies. The very many poor folk were left to fend for themselves and if they could would use naturally occurring food to supplement their diet. This included and still does include small song birds which are slug predators. It is entirely possible therefore that another force for extinction was the ever increasing population of slugs and snails. If their is any truth in this notion then we have little hope of reintroducing the Lady's-slipper Orchid without permanent protection in the wild as there are now far too many Orchid predators for the orchid to survive.

March 12th 2016

The wet and mild first part of the winter did not stay and more typical colder, dryer weather has been with us for most of the time since - at least here in Cheshire. The Daffodils which came out early in December were not joined by many in the following months so that by the 1st March (St David's Day) there were a few more daffodils out on the roadsides than normal but it no longer represented a big advance on flowering times. The frosts though have been few and slight so that many summer flowering plants like Lapsana communis (Nipplewort) now have fresh buds and flower on them. My guess is that the flowering season is now one to two weeks in advance of normal at most.

January 31st 2016

The first part of January gave a change in the weather with the mean temperature now nearer the seasonal average and with a few morning frosts. As yet no frosts have lasted beyond the first part of the morning so plants continue to flower. The daffodils planted on the A56 which would on average flower in March are now beginning to flower in places. In the garden Snowdrops are out but this isn't very surprising as they would normally flower in February in a normal year. wet weather still dominates but is not so persistent or heavy as in December when various parts of the country particularly the north were flooded. The BSBI recorded a record number of plants in flower for its New Years Day hunt which made the newspapers. This people say is because we have warmer weather. I say it is because they've recruited more botanists as well as the weather being mild.

return to the top of the page

Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict