Saturday, 11 July 2015

Echium vulgare

Viper's-bugloss - Echium vulgare growing amongst the ruined walls of Helmsley Castle in Yorkshire
Vipers-bugloss is a very handsome plant that makes a splash of blue. The flowers are pink in bud, but vivid blue when open. The plant was once used as a cure for snake-bite, hence its common name.


Back in Lundin Links it was growing beside the sandy path through the Massney Braes. It likes a light sandy soil so thrives in coastal regions.
The stamens of the flower are bright red and the stem is covered in rough hairs. Can also see the two lobed stigma in the open flower to the left of the above photo. (Click to enlarge)
Echium is very attractive to bees and other insects.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Lastingham

Lastingham , a beautiful village in the North Yorkshire Moors where we stayed for a few days on our recent trip to Yorkshire.
The Church of St Mary's, Lastingham built in 1078 on the site of the Celtic Monastery of St Cedd and St Chad. I think the giraffes on the roof are due to the Noah Flower Festival which is being held later this month.
 The interior of the church.
The ancient crypt.
 St Chad's Well Lastingham
An uphill walk through the village leads to Spaunton Moor and the first thing one sees is a Millenium Stone.
Looking back to the Church from the moor.

 Spaunton Moor bathed in the evening sun.
 A sunlit little pond surrounded by heather.
The sun going down on Spaunton Moor.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Mallard Ducklings

On our way to Yorkshire, stopped off  in Temple Sowerby and in the garden of the hotel, mallard ducklings had just hatched the day before. Apparently, the mallard had lost her first brood, so hope all will go well this time.

There were twelve ducklings all together and the female mallard gently shepherded them up the garden to a small pond.


Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Speckled Wood Butterfly

Speckled Wood Butterfly (Pararge aegeria)

On holiday in Yorkshire last week and saw this speckled wood butterfly sunning itself on a footpath near Helmsley Castle. It was the first time that I'd seen this butterfly as they are rarely seen in Fife. In Scotland they are mainly confined to the far west, north-west and Moray. The species is, however, said to be extending its range northwards and is now found in Durham and Northumberland so perhaps we will see it in Fife in years to come.    
As its names suggests, this butterfly is primarily found in woodland but can be found anywhere there is sufficient scrub to provide the dappled shady conditions that it favours and this includes habitats such as gardens and hedgerows.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Mermaid on the Beach

There are often sand castles on the beach at Lower Largo waiting to be washed away by the incoming tide, but this sand mermaid complete with seaweed hair was a bit more unusual and rather well done.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Silver Birch Catkins

Catkins on a young silver birch tree in the Serpentine Walk.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Inside the Large Cuckoo-pint Flower

I wanted to have a look inside the base of the cuckoo-pint hood but I'd only found a small patch in the wild, which I was reluctant to disturb. Instead, looked at a similar plant in my garden the large cuckoo-pint or Arum italicum. This plant has creamy-white veined green leaves and a yellow spadix rather than the usual purple brown of Arum maculatum.
Inside the base of the hood or spathe there is first a hair trap, then underneath that the male flowers, each a single stamen and at the very bottom the female flowers, each a single carpel. Midges, particularly the owl midge, are attracted to the plant by scent from the spadix. They get caught in the hair trap, and if carrying pollen, they then pollinate the flowers in the base of the hood. As the hair trap shrivels the midges escape from the spathe carrying pollen with them to cross-pollinate another plant. Later poisonous berries develop from the female flowers, ripening from green to red.