Monday, 1 December 2014

November 2014

Lulworth and District Garden Society
The November meeting began with the Annual General Meeting. The current Committee was re-elected with exception of Mrs Margaret Keogh who indicated she wished to give up the role of chairman and stand down from the committee at the end of the year. Mr Phil Roberts agreed to take on the role of Secretary forthwith, which had been filled on an "acting" basis by the Treasurer, and therefore joins the committee. The AGM also agreed to increase the annual membership fee to £8.
Following the AGM a talk was given by Mr Brian Hesketh on "Organic Vegetable growing". He  has been growing vegetables organically for the past twelve years.  The key to successful organic vegetable growing is the practice of crop rotation on a three or four year cycle  and soil improvement with the addition of compost. The ideal mix for garden compost is a fifty - fifty mix of green and brown vegetable matter. Brown matter being shredded wood prunings from the garden and shredded paper. Another method of improving the soil is "Green" manure where certain plants are grown and left to mature before digging in. This type of plant includes grazing rye and buckwheat which will draw up nutrients already in the soil and make them available for the next sown crops. Packets of "green manure" seeds can be obtained from most garden centres. Some plants such as Brassicas take a lot of nutrients out  of the soil and heavy rain washes nutrients out, clearly these nutrients need to be replace prior to the next crop being sown. So it is important to be aware of the needs of the crops being planted. The regular addition of compost to the soil is to be recommended and where the "no dig" method is used there needs to be about nine inches added each year. Crop rotation helps to keep club root and other diseases at bay and the use of fine netting will keep carrot fly and leek moth pests away without using chemical controls.
This talk generated a lost of interest with many questions being asked during the tea and coffee period.

Flower of the month competition was won by Marian Roberts with a sunflower.

Date of next meeting :- The Christmas Party - Wed 10th December at Finley's for 7.30pm. Cost - £14 Members £16 non members. Tickets available from John Watts 01929 400749.
The Programme for 2015 is shown below :-
Month                Speaker            Topic
Wed 14th Jan.     Derek Luther     What we can expect from Fuchias.
Wed 11th Feb      Toby Branston   Heathlands at Arne
Wed 11th March   Diana Guy         Creativity in the garden
Wed 8th April       Martin Young     Hosta, Heuchera & Hellebores
Wed 13th May      Neil Lovesey      12 months of colour
Wed 10th June     Outing (yet to be arranged)
Wed 8th July        Members evening
Sat 22nd Aug        Annual Show
Wed 9th Sept       Mark Ching          A Thatcher's Tale
Wed 14th Oct       Marcus Dancer      Clematis and how to grow them
Wed 11th Nov      Jonathon Garratt   Container Gardening

Wed 9th Dec        Christmas Party.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

October 2014

Autumn is upon us, we have seen plenty of late birds and butterflies. It is a good year for berries; Rosehips and Haws are looking bright in hedgerows. Old Man’s Beard or Travellers Joy, an alternative name for the attractive seed heads of Clematis, swamps hedgerows.
Grey Squirrels and Jays have been seen frequently in the roads under Oak trees; hungry for acorns, they stash them away for the winter. 

It has been a good year for Clouded Yellows, Bindon Hill, Dungy Head, and Durdle Door have provided good sightings. Several times on Bindon we have seen a helice Clouded Yellow, Pale Clouded Yellow or a Berger’s Clouded Yellow female. The helice is a pale coloured female form, the latter two are very rare migrants to the British Isles, and it is virtually impossible to distinguish between these three butterflies on the wing. Without the butterfly landing and an identification book to hand, we cannot be certain about what we saw. Other butterflies seen are Red Admiral and Speckled Wood butterflies. 

Always a spectacle for young students on their Geography field trips are Fox Moth Caterpillars. Hambury Tout is the best place to see these black and orange long-haired species this time of year, taking advantage of the mild weather before hunkering down for the winter.

We have chosen Devil’s-bit Scabious which is still in flower on Bindon; darker in colour than other Scabious species and has pincushion-like flower heads, these flower from July – October.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

September 2014

There are signs of autumn on its way; the nights are drawing in, fresher mornings with dewey ground. The more mellow song of the Robin dominates bird song along with its ‘tic, tic’ contact call.

Haws, Sloes, Blackberries and Rosehips are ripening nicely in hedgerows.
On road verges, Wild Angelica is flowering, along with Fleabane and Bindweed; a nuisance for the gardener, but you have to admire the way it climbs up any available plant displaying its crisp pinky-white trumpet flowers. Other plants such as Cow Parsley and Hogweeds have been reduced to mere skeletons.

Autumn Gentians and Autumn Lady’s Tresses are flowering on Bindon Hill alongside the Clustered Bellflowers, Harebells, Greater Knapweed and Autumn Hawkbits.

Chalkhill Blue, Large and Small White, Red Admiral, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood, Wall Brown, Small Heath and Adonis Blue butterflies have all been seen over the last few weeks, we enjoy these late flyers while we can.

We will be seeing Wheatears for a few months yet until they migrate north.
These have been regularly seen at Durdle Door, Hambury Tout and on Bindon Hill. Every year we speculate as to when the Swallows and House Martins will leave. Swallows have been seen restlessly gathering low on fence lines, a habitual occurrence just before they leave. There are always a few stragglers which will hang-around until October.

We have chosen Autumn Lady’s Tresses for flower of the month which is in the Orchid family, these are in flower on Bindon Hill. The plants latin name is Spiranthes spiralis, which really does describe its growth habit of flowers spiraling around the stem.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

August 2014

July has been a fantastic month for sunshine and as a result of good weather, for wildlife too. Bindon Hill is covered with plants that flower for most of the summer, together with the late flowerers such as Harebells, and Autumn Gentians.
Dyer’s Greenweed, an attractive member of the Pea family, is in flower in the shorter grass areas on top of the hill. Clustered Bellflower and Betony are more noticeable this year, scattered over a wider area. Devil’s-bit Scabious joins Small Scabious; getting its name from roots that stop abruptly, because in folklore it was thought that the Devil bit off its roots in a fit of rage on seeing it flowering so beautifully so late in the year. In the Daisy family, Saw-wort, Greater Knapweed and Carline Thistle will continue to flower through the next few months.

In hedgerows, the ‘lady’ part of Lords and Ladies look bright and enticing, consisting of a stem of red berries. These are extremely poisonous to humans if eaten. Blackberries are ripening too; they start the ‘berry’ season and are ready for the taking throughout autumn.

What a fantastic butterfly year it has been; we are now seeing Chalkhill Blue, Grayling, Gatekeeper, Marbled White, Dark Green Fritillary, Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown and Small and Lulworth Skipper butterflies in healthy numbers.
Last month we had confirmed sightings of a good number of Silver-studded Blue butterflies on Bindon Hill; this is a first for this site. This species is mainly found on Heathland but sometimes coastal habitats, and is a UK BAP Status Priority species.

We have chosen Devil’s-bit Scabious for flower of the month, a good nectar source for butterflies. This has a longer flowering season than the other Scabious species and is a slightly darker mauve to purple colour.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

July 2014

July has started in the same way that June left off; lots of warm, dry and sunny weather …for the time being anyway. This time of year is always crammed with exciting wildlife to catch up with, the difficulty being prioritising certain sites with limited time available!

Dragonflies are fully on the wing now; Black-tailed Skimmer, Golden Ringed and Yellow-winged Darter to name but a few. Bodies of water or boggy areas are good places to look for these summer specialities. If you are out looking for Dragonflies, don’t forget to scan the skies for Hobby, a predator of these magnificent creatures. Not far from the lake, Coombe Heath boasts an all star line up of important species. Dartford Warbler seem to have had a successful breeding season so far with adult birds seen feeding their young. Perhaps we have our mild winter to thank for this? Yellowhammer, Stonechat and Woodlark can all be found there too, and if you hang around until dusk, Nightjar can be heard churring.

Coming back down to the coast, Sunfish have been reported already this year. Sunfish are known to predate another visitor we have seen this year in large numbers, Jellyfish.
Around the coast and in land, butterfly numbers are increasing. For the first time this year we have seen Gatekeeper, Silver-washed Fritillary, Chalkhill and Silver-Studded Blue. These great species have been added to our growing list.

We have chosen Bog Asphodel as our flower of the month. The sulphur yellow flowers can bee seen carpeting the more damp areas of heath. This flora should last into August and then begin to fruit, the plant turning a deep colour of orange adding further colour to the boggy areas late in the summer.

Friday, 6 June 2014

June 2014

What an exciting time of the year for the naturalist! For the botanist, this month offers so many flowers to feast-the-eyes-on. On the cliffs near Stair Hole and Dungy Head, the Thrift has been looking magnificent clinging to rocky outcrops.
Another impressive plant found on the cliffs is Wild Cabbage which appears locally abundant but is nationally rare. This Brassica has big leathery leaves and lemon-yellow flowers that bloom right through to September. Red Valerian thrives in the same areas and on walls; this pretty plant which flowers various shades of pink was introduced from the Mediterranean, and is clearly enjoying some of the warm weather we have been experiencing. Ox-eye Daisies are in their prime; Dungy Head and Durdle Door are hot-spots for these. 

Horseshoe Vetch is looking spectacular on chalk grassland sites, particularly on Bindon Hill; adding to the ‘yellows’ is Kidney Vetch with it’s fluffy flower heads. We have had reports of Adonis Blues on the wing; which relies solely on Horseshoe Vetch as its’ larval foodplant. Other species sited include Green Hairstreak (and abundant this year), Small and Common Blue, Small Heath and Lulworth Skipper. We have also had a report of a Dingy Skipper in the garden outside the Visitor Centre, though the Mother Shipton moth can easily be mistaken for a Dingy Skipper.

This year the Lesser Whitethroat’s song has been frequently heard. The south-side of Bindon Hill has been a regular spot for us. Their song is a very simple, repetitive ‘rattling’ and their call a harsh ‘tacking’. These are a common summer visitors, though not as common as the Whitethroat.

We have chosen Kidney Vetch for flower of the month, which is a very robust looking plant. When each flower dies it remains attractive with rusty-brown and hairy seed heads. This is the sole larval foodplant of Small Blue butterfly, one to look out for in June.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

May 2014

In between the ‘April showers’, we have experienced some lovely sunshine.
This has encouraged butterflies to put on a show; Speckled Wood, Wall, and Holly Blue, as well as many Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell have made an appearance.

Birdsong has been crazy as well as the flitting-to-and-fro with nesting material. Great and Blue Tits have dominated birdsong in the village, as well as Goldfinches and Blackbirds. A Willow Warbler has been very vocal at Bindon allotments; this species have undergone a moderate decline in the south in recent decades making them an Amber Status bird.

Floristically, many Common Dog Violets can be seen on grassland slopes; identified by their ‘white bottoms’ or ‘Spurs’ behind the petals. Bird’s-foot-trefoil is starting to flower, particularly on the south-side. Often overlooked, because they are so common, are Daisies. They are putting on a good show on the top of Bindon near the Army Range fence. You may have noticed six cows on Bindon Hill (which seem to favour the top of the hill). These three Angus and three Hereford are assisting the Exmoor ponies with meeting the grazing requirements.

On grassy banks in and around the village, Red Campion, Herb Robert, Cow Parsley and Greater Stitchwort are flowering.

We have chosen Red Campion for the flower of the month, its bright rose-pink petals on a fairly tall stalk rise above many of the other flowers in the hedgerow. We get four months to see this ancient woodland indicator in flower.