a french garden


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January walking

January sunrise

January sunrise

The sun rises late in January and the shorter daylight hours mean that walks are best taken in the early afternoon.  It is our best chance here to get some sun in what has been a rainy January.

Mistletoe in trees

Mistletoe in trees

Most of the trees around us are deciduous and in the winter once the leaves have gone you can see clearly how much mistletoe is carried by some of the trees.

Mistletoe (Viscum album)

Mistletoe (Viscum album)

There were several large clumps of mistletoe lying at the bottom of these trees and I was surprised by the girth of the branches.  The berries, although poisonous for humans, provide a good food source for berry-eating birds like thrushes.  The woods around here are not managed and many support a large proportion of mistletoe and are also used as supports by seemingly smothering runners of ivy.  A tough life for the trees but the ivy flowers provide a valuable source of food for the bees and other insects and again the birds eat the berries.

Ruscus aculeatus

Ruscus aculeatus

The Ruscus seems to be enjoying its increase share of the light now that the leaves have fallen.  The berries are staying plump in contrast to the Spindle tree berries which looked beautiful in the woods in December but are now dry and inconspicuous.

Bolbitius vitellinus

Bolbitius vitellinus

The relatively mild temperatures for January mean that the fungi are well represented.  I saw this chrome yellow toadstool on the roadside near our house.

Older Bolbitius vitellinus

Older Bolbitius vitellinus

There were a few more mature specimens close beside it.

Mucilago crustacea

Mucilago crustacea

This slime mould was also beside the road and taking advantage of the mild damp weather to consume a rotting stick.

Toadstool in maize field

Toadstool in maize field

This toadstool had pushed through the stubble left in a field that had grown maize last year. When the cold front arrived it was frozen solid.  I tried to make a spore print to identify it but when defrosted, it transformed into a pile of jelly .  So I have learnt something else – you can’t make spore prints with frozen toadstools.

Fungus on tree bark

Fungus on tree bark

I have to admit that I can manage to identify only a very small portion of the fungi that I see.  This one was appealing as it reminded of raw jewel stones as it was a mix of black with amethyst glints to it.

Dichomitus campestris?

Dichomitus campestris?

I found this one different and attractive also, but I am not sure if I have identified it correctly.

Group of yellow Calendula

Group of yellow Calendula

These were flowering by the roadside not particularly near any houses but I think they must be garden escapees that have managed to flourish on the verge.

Flower full of rain water

Flower full of rain water

This seems to sum up our January up until now.

Winter heliotrope, (Petasites fragrans)

Winter heliotrope, (Petasites fragrans)

When I saw these flowers I at first thought that these too were garden escapees.  When I knelt down to photograph them I was surprised that they were beautifully perfumed.  The perfume is described by UK Wildflowers as vanilla, I found it hard to describe but very pleasant.  Strangely, although they flower in the middle of winter they are frost sensitive perhaps because they originally came from North Africa.

Close up Winter heliotrope ( Petasites fragrans )

Close up Winter heliotrope ( Petasites fragrans )

It was tempting to try and introduce some into the wilder parts of the garden but they are extremely invasive and can smother anything in their path.  I have enough to cope with in the garden without bringing in flowers that could take over!