Friday, 25 July 2014

Phenology - July

Nothing new happens in July. It's just like June, but with thunderstorms.

Nah, that's not exactly true, although the natural changes are a bit more subtle at this time of year. July is a time of PURPLE flowers if you know where to look:

This (above) is Himalayan Balsam, a pain-in-the-ass invasive species often found on river banks. It pulls up easily though. Later on, its seed will form in tightly-wound clockwork-style pods that explode in your hand (that's how it spreads so easily). It makes for much  jumping and squealing entertainment when out on a walk, so I can't quite bring myself to hate it as much as it deserves :-)

This (above) is Rosebay Willowherb or Fireweed - so called because it colonises burned areas like crazy. It used to be rare in the UK, but it spread up the railways lines (all that clinker and coal, see?) during the Victorian period and is now found everywhere.When London was bombed during the blitz, "Bombweed" became a common sight, cloaking the ruins.

This is Betony, or Bishopwort -  a plant with many herbal and magical uses. It protects you from gout, goblins, witches and bad dreams, and (when planted) stops ghosts wandering about! And according to Gerard's Herbal (1500s), "It maketh a man to pisse well." What else could you ask for?

This is Bush Vetch - a legume, as you might guess, and just beautiful when it grows in masses. Vetch species have been cultivated for at least 10,000 years as human and animal feed - possibly the earliest known agricultural crop.

The purple thistles are turning to fluff though...

The first wild fruits, in the form of cherries, start to ripen in July - you will have to race the birds to get to them.

And just in case you think it's all purples and pinks and nature is going through a tweenie stage ... July is also the time for Meadowsweet or Meadwort (a natural aspirin) to be in flower ...

... and Poppies  of various kinds (long associated - because of the opium connection - with sleep, peace and death), of course.

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