Thursday is volunteer day at Blashford and it is well known that it does not rain when the Thursday volunteers are working, but today something went wrong and we got wet! We were continuing with our project to create a diverse new grassland along what used to be the entrance to the old concrete plant, we have spread seed and cleared brambles. Now we are going back to continue with cutting back the bramble regrowth and discourage nettles and some of the denser stands of creeping thistle.
A lot of the seed we spread has germinated but is has a lot that was already there lying dormant in the seedbank. This includes some with famously long-lived seed like poppies.
Poppies used to be a common “weed” of agricultural crops but these days are effectively controlled in most by herbicides. Another such agricultural weed was field pansy, which has also appeared.
Several species of thistles have grown up too, alongside the creeping and spear thistle there are a few musk thistle, not yet flowering, but the symmetry of their flower buds appealed to me.
We also have a good showing of mullein plants with both dark mullein and great mullein, a few with mullein moth caterpillar on them. Both species have tall spires of yellow flowers, however the individual flowers are very attractive on their own.
I have high hopes for this area, it has many of the attributes you need for a herb rich grassland, a mostly poor, thin soil and a sunny aspect, if we can establish a tight sward it could become a real asset for to the reserve, good for plants, insects and close to the path and so easy to see.
My last shot of the day is also of a flower but in this case it is what was sitting upon it that was the main attraction. The flower is an ox-eye daisy and on it is a male red-eyed damselfly, I find this a difficult species to get a picture of, as they usually spend their time sitting on floating pond weed well out in the water, so one away from water was too good to miss.
This is what we should now call the large red-eyed damselfly, rather than the smaller newcomer to these shores, the small red-eyed damselfly, which tends to fly later in the season.
Although I did get wet, it was not cold and being out in a bit of weather from time to time has its own appeal, albeit in moderation. Let’s hope for a bit better tomorrow.