Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Desktop wallpaper

Or does calling it that make me at least several weeks out-of-date ?

An obvious thing for FloralImages to offer and I took the trouble to look at my stats and find what screen sizes 99.9% of my visitors have. So images are pre-prepared at every build for these sizes (20 in all) and a bit of Javascript ensures that those who try this get the size for their screen.

The image to start with isn't the one I would have chosen - but I decided to make it randomised and so stick with it. The image should change each weeks and sometimes wide-screen users will be offered a different one from that for normal aspect ratio monitors. (Some images are suitable for wide screen, some for 4:3 and some for both.)

Sunday, December 03, 2006


How did I miss Draycott Sleights for so long ? A superb reserve and a must for next year for flowers.

But now, the reserve and the close-by Draycott Horsegrounds are home to several interesting fungi. I hope I got the IDs about right - I'm learning but still nowhere on the fungus "jizz" recognition curve.

Only realised on return I may have had a Magic mushroom - did I break the law taking a sample for a spore print ?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Back in business

The Camera is back - repaired free of charge by Nikon :-). It was the dreaded BGLOD failure that they are honouring repairs for even out of guarantee. (See the DPreview Nikon forums).

And Malcolm Storey sent a long email of IDs for my Quarantine fungi - plus some corrections for ones I thought I had IDed. Very good of him and FloralImages depends so much on unsolicited help like this.

Spurred me to try hard to get my fungus Iding up to scratch with a new overnight one in the lawn. Brown spore print and I think therefore it is Conocybe tenera.

I will go out tomorrow and find something to photograph if I possibly can !

Monday, November 06, 2006

Camera broke

Only a walk in November at Hestercombe Gardens so not the disaster it could have been. Or seemed ? As with most digital equipment the symptoms at first seemed to preclude any picture taking but further investigation revealed that all that was actually wrong was the metering (causing the display to generate alarmingly random messages / indications).

So I spent the rest of the afternoon exposing by trial and error - easy when you get used to it of course with an on-camera histogram to feed back the results of each attempt - and flowers, as I have said before, stay there for further attempts.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Vice Counties

I believe that one of the problems of a site like FloralImages is that it can be quite hard for users to find what they want. I try to help with this by having several different types of index and also several different browsing pages.

Just added are browse by Vice County pages - Vice Counties are a botanical recording concept - designed to be roughly all similar in size since the mid nineteenth century and unchanged (for consistency) since. I am only dimly aware if I am in North or South Somerset (vice county) much of the time (often erroneously thinking I was in South because I had driven quite a way south from Weston-super-Mare!) and even less sure where Mid Cork starts and West Cork ends. So it has been useful creating this additional categorisation for me.

See the BSBI website for more about Vice Counties and how they are used.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Slime moulds

Patches on the lawn when I wake up recently. What dog has been getting in and weeing ???

No - it's slime moulds. The first to appear was yellow. I think some species of Mucilago. Then two days later the more common (I am told) dark Physarum(s) appear.

Apparently they spend most of the year practically invisible. These are the fruiting bodies.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


There may not have been much in the way of flowers but a very worthwhile walk. One perfect Indian Balsam flower by the stream and Black Spleenwort up the hill.

The view from above of Porlock shingle bar and the river Horner building up for its spectacular break through (maybe) later this winter made the trip worth it. Plus there were some interesting fungi and little lumps of jelly (lots of it) on the northern hillside which I can only assume is some type of alga.

Oh and Dodder on the gorse at the top.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Silent season

Silly really - I have let this lapse. The solution I am sure is to make it more regular.

A bad year botanically with many trips called off due to ... boring personal reasons. (But death to all estate agents and solicitors - and fickle buyers lower down the chain - plus never accept the advice of a hearty biology professor to wear wellingtons when you know walking boots make more sense - and getting wet feet is preferable to a strained hip - end of rant.)

But the highlight was at the end (of the season proper), thanks entirely to David Fenwick nosing around a local (to him) golf course development - simply the most botanically abundant site he or I have ever seen. See my recent images from Nettle-leaved Goosefoot back to Bugloss - and that's only a half-day's sample of the delights at this site which will be all covered over with clinical grass soon.

David thinks that the demolition waste dumped there for landscaping included the clearance of a defunct bird-garden.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Chasing Orchids

Recently I visited Homefield Wood and Hartsfield Reserve - both near the Thames in Oxon and Bucks. Great displays of nationally rare orchids. Now all on the site.

More recently I have missed further opportunities in Wiltshire - pressure of "events" at home.

But the star accession to floralimages has to come from a guest in the last few weeks. Howard Parsons sought out the very elusive Lesser Twayblade on Exmoor.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Sand point

Always an enjoyable walk. Much still to come but the Honewort (Trinia glauca) was really at its peak and quite a sight.

I still get caught out by the easy ones though. A Sorrel plant caught my eye and I realised I didn't have much in the way of photographs of this; only to find when I got back that it may be subspecies biformis I had found. I should go back when the flowers are more open.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Purbeck Coast

A BSBI meeting at Langton Matravers to explore some of the local coast. Delightful (and knowledgeable) company, Early Spider Orchids and more. I think my highlight was a lone pure white Orchis morio in a field of dark ones.

Chalk Milk-wort was a good thing to get sorted as well. I have twice now got thoroughly confused in the field by misreadings of my Rose and only realised on return that it couldn't have been the Chalk one as it doesn't grow where I was looking ! (I think this is now firmly embedded at last in the ancient brain box).

Nice also to see Rock Sea Spurry on proper cliffs. I know it not a mile from where I sit growing at the edge of tarmac on Weston front ! I was very unsure I had got it right when I first investigated it but then the Bristol Region Atlas confirmed the location.


It may not be the most spectacular flower ever but it is another British Isles Family represented - so I had to get the flowers of Sea Buckthorn. The berries later in the year are much more worth the effort - and many vast tracts of the shrub on the coast around here bear neither flowers nor berries - being content presumably to invade the dunes vegetatively.

Spring Squill

A long-held "want" of mine this. Grows on cliff tops around the Southwest Coast but maddeningly not anywhere very near my base. Eventually I settled on a trip to the Gower for it.

Well worth it - carpets of the stuff and magnificent scenery as well. I spent a full days walking around Port Eynon and maybe the species count was small but it was a day well spent.

I am particularly collecting Squills - a bit strange really when it seems the genus is to be split up...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem

I failed to find this last year - but it turns out I was right time and very nearly right place then. The Somerset Atlas, as always, was a little vague about exactly where this site was and both I and Howard Parsons tried first on the wrong side of the valley in question, only to pass by the actual site exhausted at the end of the day, in my case last year and in his case this.

This year I stumbled upon it straight away - that's the way botanical luck goes - and realised straight away that this must indeed be an often-overlooked flower even in parts of the country where it is more common.

The leaves could be Bluebell until you inspect closely and the flowers are green from above. Also it is not a plentiful flower-er except (reportedly) in special years. This year many seeds had germinated which we both were at pains not to damage. There were signs of cropping by deer (probably) though which is a worry for the site long term.

I have visited twice now - but yet to get the right conditions for a fully open flower - so more images may yet be to come.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Plants in the sea

In my quest to cover as many of the botanical families that grow in the UK / Ireland as I can* I could not pass up an invitation to accompany David Fenwick to see some Eelgrass he found in March.

This grows truly in the sea (very unusually for a vascular plant which is what I am mainly about) and you need a very low tide to see it sensibly and hopefully photograph it, assuming you are not equipped with an underwater camera.

The tide was predicted to be at its lowest for the year when we went to Looe but I soon found that shops had been flooded in the morning - suggesting a tide that had been "pushed up" by the wind. We found the Eelgrass but it never fully uncovered thanks to the brisk southwesterly wind behind the tide but nonetheless I tried out my new "glass-bottomed bucket" for such circumstances - with moderate success and a lot of ideas for improvements in technique next time...


* Possibly silly this - as I suspect the powers that be are about to recast the families in a big way - see my note at Info: Liliaceae.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

A good crocus year

The cold suits crocuses - which don't generally thrive in my garden. This year, though, a Crocus tommasinianus popped up where I had never sown / planted one. Indeed attempts years ago to establish a drift of these elsewhere failed after a few years - but obviously they seeded.

The snowdrops are also great - and the normal rule - 'snowdrops are out so we will get a warm day soon to kill them off' hasn't applied !


I decided to visit Inkpen Crocus Field Reserve near Hungerford yesterday. Crocus vernus has been growing there since 1800, the leaflets say, but it is not thought to be a native.

Rather a long trek but worth it even if a little early this cold year (normally into March is getting late there).

And two others thought alike - including H Parsons, who had made a similar journey to mine and is a FloralImages user. He has been botanising for much longer than I have and is the discoverer of Ophrys apifera var Friburgensis in the Gordano valley. This is featured with his photograph in the Bristol Region Flora.

Friday, February 17, 2006

New technology

Time to update the kit - the new Nikon close up flash kit (R1) looked a better bet than a ring flash so I have taken the plunge. Initial results are encouraging and the kit has enough flexibility to guarantee it will take a while to optimise technique !

I revisited Spurge Laurel to try it out and encountered some interesting old spore-cases on Polypody to try out at 1:1 ratio. Then on the way back I found Butcher's Broom nearer home than before...

Friday, February 03, 2006

A few flowers in the cold

Two natives that grow locally (if rarely) AND flower at this time of year are Butcher's Broom and Spurge Laurel.

I have found both but the
Butcher's Broom I have found so far seem to be all the same sex (or the other sex - I think male isn't flowering at present). No berries either makes me suspicious (as others have found them alongside flowers. Could easily be a single-sex clone as it is a component of a hedge. (And hence not truly native...)

Spurge Laurel was abundant at the edge of Cheddar Wood - but only a few flowers open. So I mst go back in a few weeks for better pictures...