Archive for May, 2013

Rock roses

May 31, 2013 4 comments
Are there any truffles about?

Are there any truffles about?

They’re not roses, of course, but they’re one of the most beautiful of all wild flowers.

Looking them up on the internet to see if I could find any explanation for their name, I came instead upon 2 facts about rock roses in general (there are a lot of different kinds, including some shrubs).

The first is that they’re specially adapted for recolonizing after forest fires because they have very durable seeds which crack open when heated and germinate quickly, allowing the plant to get a head start.

The second is potentially very interesting in this area.

They’re able to create a symbiotic relationship with truffle mushrooms and have even been considered for use as host plants for truffle cultivation instead of oaks, pines, etc.

When the rainstorms have stopped making us feel like Noah’s Ark here, I must remember to go back and look for truffles wherever we have rock roses.


May 30, 2013 3 comments
An arch of eglantine

An arch of eglantine

How much more elegant that sounds than ‘dog rose’.

I haven’t been able to work out what type of wild rose the name eglantine specifically refers to, but I suspect it’s as vague as dog rose.

Whatever name it goes by, it’s not quite so much appreciated when it grows over the path.

The beautiful, secret path which leads to the gully at the foot of our land, loud at the moment with the sound of hidden waterfalls, is getting overgrown.

Although this particular spray resembles a bridal arch and is no barrier, Nature won’t be long reclaiming her own.

A rose by any other name ...

A rose by any other name …

Sweet pea sanctuary

May 29, 2013 Leave a comment
Growing unmolested

Sweet peas growing unmolested

At the end of last summer we ripped up the dry sweet pea stems, pods and all, and spread them in bundles around the place to seed themselves.

Nowhere are they unwelcome where they’ve sprouted, but in a lot of cases they can’t be left.

In our bit of lawn, for example, which would be about 6 feet tall by now if we’d left it uncut.

But on this bank, on the shady side of the house where nothing else grows, they can flourish to their hearts’ content.

Clive complained about the lack of variety in the colour but I defended them vigorously.

“There’s purple,” I said, “pale purple, deep purple, white, deep purply red, pinky purple, pink, pale pink …”

I would have thought that was enough, even for flowers in such quantity!

Giant Emperor Moth

May 28, 2013 5 comments
The stricken giant

The stricken giant (actual colours)

I went out the back door for lunch today and almost fell over this huge moth on the terrace.

It was absolutely massive – I reckoned about 12 cm across.

Its legs moved every so often but it seemed very dopey. We wondered if it had stunned itself on the outside light.

We were worried the dogs would tread on it, so we put a large flowerpot over it while we had lunch.

Then, when everyone else had gone in, I got it to crawl onto a banana skin and put it on top of the barbecue, from where it had disappeared when I next looked.

Another name for this moth is the Great Peacock Moth for obvious reasons.

It’s not a moth you’d want flying at you in the dark, that’s for sure!

Below is an artistic enhancement done by Clive using HDR.

Clive's version

Clive’s version

Snail interchange

May 27, 2013 2 comments
Can I cross this line?

Can I cross this line?

On one of our many recent rainy nights, I spotted this snail traversing some cactus leaves.

Normally I pick snails off and lob them far away from our ornamental plants.

But this one looked like it might be a while figuring out all those stripes and slipways, and in the meantime the cactus is far too tough for it to eat.

Close-up of an enemy

May 26, 2013 Leave a comment


I can’t say this white-spotted rose beetle is beautiful; I know too much about it.

It’s perched (if that’s the right word because its hold is so delicate) on an aquilegia flower.

White and yellow are the colours which attract its kind so pale yellow is spot on, but did the stiff petals prove a challenge?

The thin petals of a rose get chewed to mushy stubs but this aquilegia is still intact.

I intended to put the beetle in the pond to sink or swim, but it slipped off the flower into the flower bed.

One more to mangle the roses.

Sweet pea highway

May 25, 2013 7 comments
Raindrops queuing on a sweet pea stalk

Raindrops queuing on a sweet pea stalk

It must be the rough, ribby texture of sweet pea stems and leaves which makes them so good at holding raindrops.

Normally the drops make me think of cabochon-cut rock crystal or, if they’re smaller, tiny uncut diamonds of the sort thieves tip out of a soft black pouch.

But in this case it looks more like a highway, suspended across a gorge, with a traffic jam in each direction on it. There’s even a coach among the cars!

The wet weather is certainly giving plenty of scope for sweet pea artistry.