Monday 20 July 2020

A July audit

The picture below shows, more or less, what the project looks from the actual kitchen window.

The flora of the area is rather sparse following recent clearance with the greatest variety in the bordering hedges.  These contain the following species: yew, wild privet, ivy, bramble, ash, wild rose, hawthorn ,shrubby honeysuckle (Lonicera ligustrina var. yunnanensis 'Baggesen's Gold'), holly, wild plum (bullace), and hazel.

Plants on the ground floor include false-brome grass, herb-robert, the spurge Euphorbia amygdaloides ssp. robbiae,  Druce's cranesbill (Geranium x oxonianum), hogweed, perennial cornflower (Centaurea montana), pennyroyal, black bryony and early dog-violet.

Of these 20 species 15 are British natives and the rest introductions.

Pond with stone and (right) hazel.

Monday 13 July 2020

The narrative continues

After eleven years this project continues.  Of course, like all patches of land, the area viewed from the Kitchen Window is still there.  It was quite overgrown though until Tana cleared it up during her gardening operations yesterday and it is now back 'under management'.  The area is about 1.5 metres square and bounded by a mixed hedge at the rear, a Lonicera 'Baggesen's Gold' hedge on the east and a yew hedge to the west.  The path to our backdoor runs along the front.

A small highlight for the return to this project was the arrival of a male gatekeeper butterfly on the last of the bramble flowers.  It was the first of this species I have seen this year and I was getting a bit worried as they usually start to appear in early July.

Saturday 4 July 2009

Nipplewort beetle

The leaves on the nipplewort are fading and browning now, but the flowers are at their best.

They are much visited by Meligethes pollen beetles.

20090703 KWR nipplewort & pollen beetle

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Nipplewort (Lapsana communis)

This is now coming into flower in KWR.

20090623 Nipplewort South View 008

The name is supposed to derive from the fact that the plant was used for cracked and sore nipples, though this seems to be an idea imported by early botanist Parkinson from Prussia.

Apart from this the plant seems largely to have been ignored in UK, though the leaves are eaten in a variety of dishes in Italy.

Friday 19 June 2009

Badger sighting

At 23:00 last night the grey shape of a badger like a shadowy submarine slid along the path through the Kitchen Window Reserve.  I expect this happens every night: it reminds me of Kipling's line "Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!"  Enjoy in full here:

Thursday 14 May 2009

Baggesen's Gold in flower

Our shrubby honeysuckle Lonicera nitida 'Baggesen's Gold' that forms much of the hedge bordering the Kitchen Window Reserve has produced quite a few of its tiny flowers.

20090501 Baggesen's Gold 030

The golden plant was selected from the green form of L. nitida at Niels Baggesen's nursery in Pembury, Kent in the 1960s and was given an Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society in 1993.

The wild green form comes from south west China where the first Westerner to come across it was the celebrated plant hunter Ernest Henry Wilson.  It has been introduced to cultivation twice, in 1908 and in 1939, and apparently flowers are only borne on plants originating from the second introduction.

I have written a much fuller account of Baggesen's Gold and the man who introduced it here.

20090501 Baggesen's Gold 035

Monday 6 April 2009

At its best?

The reserve is, perhaps, visually at its best just now.  The early dog-violets (Viola reichenbachiana) are like a patch of pale mauve-blue mist and contrast well with the rising stalks of Mrs Robb's spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides robbiae).

20090405 KWR early dog-violet 020

Most of the dead leaves seem to have settled back into a flattish carpet and the grass is rising fresh and green through those in front of the limestone rock.

The nipplewort (Lapsana communis) is spreading its basal leaves and makes an attractive contrasting feature.  It is not the sort of plant that would be recommended for ornamental gardens but, like many wild things, it has a special grace, needs no attention and seems to be proof against the depredations of slug and caterpillar.  The leaves, apparently, can be used as salad or cooked like spinach and there was a time when it was cultivated for this purpose.  I prefer to leave mine to grow unmolested.

As it is spring I did a vascular plant audit of the reserve and, to date, 28 species have bee recorded in this small area.