Saturday, 20 August 2022

Scratchy tendrils and nettles sting but squirrels happy

CONSIDER taking a pair of lightweight secateurs with you when you take your next walk in the countryside; the blackberry bushes are shooting out those bright tendrils, seeking the light and space above our footpaths and the bare earth below, to colonise new territory.

Next year these shoots will produce laterals and will flower, meanwhile they seek to tear your skin.

Be especially wary of cutting nettles, like the butter-side-down toast, they always fall on your hands. The pause as you snip is an opportunity to listen — to the desperate chiffchaff, still chiff chaffing for a mate so late in the season, to the squirrels churr-chuck, churr-chuck as they chase each other round an oak trunk; it is an especially good year for squirrels, the crunch, crunch as they hop away over the dry woodland floor, or you may call it a bad year if you are considering the harm they do to young trees by nibbling out the central shoot. The hum rising from the blackberry flowers is from the throng of honey and bumble bees of all sorts, beetles and flies too. Note these spots to return in September for the berries!

Less tasty are the dewberries, which have fewer black carpels, only one to three globules holding a seed, and paler, smaller white flowers, but just as many prickles.

The raspberries are ripe in the woods now, small but sweet, by the paths where the shade is dappled.

There are many varieties of brambles with varied shades of pinks in the flowers and greens in the stems; butterflies were visiting them too, speckled wood, I think, and there were meadow brown in various shades, each with a tiny white black-bordered dot on the wing corner, fluttering over the pasture where they feed on the grasses.

Sadly, in the garden there are no butterflies on the buddleia, let us hope the second brood of the summer will coincide with the second flowering; if you deadhead them, they will continue to flower.

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