Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The groundsel has seeded

This morning I noticed that the first seed head on the groundsel, Senecio vulgaris, the first plant to seed in Wbx, had opened like a star and spread its children upon the wind. Just a few reluctant starters were still waiting to jump. I had missed the shaving brush phase in all the recent rain and wind, but the plant seemed to have timed its moment perfectly on a breezy, sunny late May morning.

Bon voyage.

The rhythm of my title 'The groundsel has seeded' reminded me of something. Then I remembered: the line from the first voyage to the moon 'the Eagle has landed'.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Legacy of the wind

After the gales and heavy rain of the last two days, the surface soil of the windowbox is strewn with bits of leaf, flower buds and petals. None of the plants seems to have been damaged, however, and this vegetable detritus will, I suppose, in the fullness of time, create a sort of top-dressing.

I caught a fly too. A little muscid called Coenosia tricolor. I wonder where the third colour is supposed to be.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Cherry petals

The bird cherry shakes
in a summer gale and drifts
a snow of petals.

I find one floating on the dark waters of the Wbx pond. It reminds me of Ezra Pound's In a Station of the Metro:

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

Reading this again after many, many years makes me wonder if I should write a haiku too. About a petal on a wet, black pool, but Pound's lovely, disembodied image, though maybe not a haiku, will long float in my mind far above anything I could manage.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Egg rafts

Mosquitoes are laying their eggs on the pond and I have already seen some of the jerky little larvae in the water. The eggs drift on the meniscus, neatly organised legions crowded into rafts like floating islands of brown velvet.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

First flowers

The plant I thought was groundsel, Senecio vulgaris, has indeed proved to be so and, though still very small, has produced a flower.

Growing, as it is, in a rich compost, I am surprised that it is not much larger, but maybe it is aiming to get some seeds away as soon as possible. Groundsel is not common in our garden and I cannot remember seeing any for years so, as in the case of Surtsey island, it is not the closest plants that are the first colonists of the windowbox.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Maple growing

The seedling that shows every sign of being a Japanese maple of some description has expanded its first two true leaves and they have arched backwards and crossed while their tips almost touch the soil. I thought the seedling might be from our old Japanese maple growing nearby, but this has different leaves so I shall have to let it develop a bit before attempting to identify it (though, as a seedling, I expect it will be a unique clone - Acer 'Windowbox')

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Dimorphic midges

I found a midge floating dead on the small Wbx pond today and it turned out to be a rather battered specimen of Bryophaenocladius xanthogyne. This is a terrestrial-breeding species which has a remarkable sexual dimorphism, the male being almost completely black and the female wholly yellow. It is not uncommon here at this time of year and the picture shows a pair I found a few years back.