Dear Readers, I have some page-a-day calendars in my office – one with a daily photo of cats, one of dogs, and one of nature scenes. And so, I have to break it to you that today is the day when we reach the mid-point of the calendar year, and all the photos have to be turned around so that I can start looking at the images for the second half of the year. How did THAT happen? It feels like Christmas was about twenty minutes ago. Nonetheless, there are plenty of signs in the cemetery that the year is already starting to think about autumn, although there are still plenty of flowers about too, like these lovely yellow reflexed stonecrop, which are popping up on certain graves where the conditions are right.
On the horse chestnut, the conkers are getting bigger, but the leaves are showing the very first signs of the leaf miners that will have nibbled them to a frazzle by the end of August.
And please forgive me for a few more shots of the fox and cubs (Pilosella aurantiacia) – they are stunning.
Here’s a new plant in flower – generally known as Creeping Jenny, this is a member of the primrose family, and very pretty it is too. It was a very damp day today, which suits this little plant very much – it loves damp places, and in fact I was thinking about getting some for around the pond to soften the edges.
I pause to examine the numerous trivial plant bugs (Closterotomus trivialis) on some hogweed – they are everywhere this year! The males are mostly black and red, the females are mostly green, and all of them feed on pollen and nothing else, but help to pollinate the plants as they do so.
There are great frothy masses of white stonecrop (Sedum album) around too.
The yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is coming into flower – quite a lot of it seems to be pinkish this year.
And the goat’s rue is putting in an appearance in both pale mauve and white. This is one of those plants that has gone from being a relative rarity in this part of the world to being pretty much ubiquitous in the cemetery.
I spot my first meadow brown of the year….
And here is a very fine black-and-yellow longhorn beetle (Rutpela maculata) – the larvae live in the deadwood of deciduous trees, and the adults hang out on umbellifers, as in the photos below. I advise getting up close and personal to any stands of wild carrot or hogweed that you see – they are a great place to see interesting insects.
What really struck me today, though, was the way that the leaves on some perennial plants were already turning, and how beautiful they were. Look at these dock leaves! The colour may be due to a rust fungus or insect infestation, or it might just be part of the natural cycle of growth and decay (or indeed both of these things).
The leaves on the garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) are going through a similar process, but in shades of purple-red and yellow.
And the herb Robert is starting to display the clearest crimson of all…
And let’s not forget this splendid agent of decay who was obviously enjoying the rain. This is the brown-coloured form of Arion ater, the Great Black Slug. A very fine slug indeed!
And of course, I had to say hello to the Scotsman, who is standing pretty much in a grove of spent stalks and dry foliage at the moment. He doesn’t seem unhappy though, for all that.