Life, photos but not the universe

What we saw on our holidays

Lots of  Rosebay Willowherb (Fireweed in North America from whence it came – not a native plant here)  and Himalayan Balsam (which I have always known as  Policeman’s Helmets, obviously because the flowers vaguely recall an old-fashioned policeman’s helmet in shape.  I know, I know, in this photo there is no suggestion of helmetness or police – unless it’s the pink and white fashion police.  Expecting a riot along the canal banks maybe, where fashion is mainly not.)

I recently watched a programme about invasive foreign weeds – quite scary some of them, particularly Japanese Knotweed which is rife along the banks in urban parts of the canal and I saw places where there had been attempts to destroy it.  Not surprising since it spreads like wildfire (only underground), rears it’s deceptively pretty head through concrete and asphalt and and destroys the ground on which it grows.  It is almost indestructible and can also destroy house foundations – if there is any on a property it can be a reason to have a mortgage refused.

The Himalayan Balsam and the Rosebay Willowherb are also foreigners which probably need controlling a bit more, pretty though they all are.  To be fair to all these aliens, they only cause such trouble when imported to places where their natural competitors don’t thrive so if they’d been left at home where they belong they probably wouldn’t do so much damage.

This doesn’t apply to the two Kestrels perched on a wire at Hazlehurst.  A baby?  Not sure if he was just fluffing himself up in the brief sunshine or if he was recently fledged.

And ordinary Willowherb is a pretty and non invasive plant and it belongs here along with Musk Mallow and Meadowsweet.  Oh and Purple Loosestrife and Knapweed.  There’s fluffy, creamy Meadowsweet all along the banks.

Then there were at least two of the obligatory herons

and a fleeting glimpse of a Kingfisher which always makes me happy even without a photo – bluebirds see.  So where did the blue bird for happiness thing come from then?

Also two cows.

Definitely not in their right place.

And lots and lots of Sandmartins hurtling across the surface of the water, dipping and splashing as they passed.  I spent a concerted ten minutes trying to catch some photos of them but this was the best I could do – those blobs on the water.  If you wipe off all the specks and bits of dust on your monitor, whatever is left is them.

Ad now all this talk of weeds and pests makes me notice some examples of Barney’s inimitable style of pruning in the rose by the window so I’m off out with the secateurs.



August 8, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. No giant hogweed? Several rivers in Morayshire were infested with them, and the more they were detsroyed the more they flourished. There was some talk of biological control, but I don’t think it came to anything. Is there no gastropod that feasts on Japanese Knotweed? Time for a few experiments…

    Comment by Christopher | August 8, 2011 | Reply

  2. Ah Hogweed! Not as much as we have here in our orchard Christopher. Much mowed and showing signs of developing/evolving into a shorter form which can go to seed between mowings.
    I believe some biologist is attempting to ‘design’ a bug that preys only on Japanese Knotweed and then dies. SF is littered with stories about ‘what happened after they started designing bugs to deal with pests’ which possibly accounts for the deep foreboding and unease that this news gave me.
    I think we need to learn how to eat these things since humankind is such an efficient predator, as a rule.

    Comment by letouttoplay | August 8, 2011 | Reply

  3. I was surprised when, via a blog, I found that Himalayan Balsam was supposed to be a terribly invasive weed. Since it was the only thing that grew in an awkward corner of my last garden, I’d always rather wanted it here, but it died off every frosty winter.

    We have weeded ragwort into submission, now have ground elder and vetch still gaining the upper hand.

    Comment by Z | August 8, 2011 | Reply

  4. Ooh, ground elder! There’s a sneaky devil!
    Hello Z! How lovely to see you here, thank you for dropping in.
    A friend of mine resorted to sieving the soil in her garden to about two feet down to get rid of the ground elder roots. I always rather liked the Himalayan, but where it grows easily it gets a bit much.

    Comment by letouttoplay | August 8, 2011 | Reply

  5. Shhhh…..don’t tell, but I have buddliah’s in the pots on the patio. Yes, I know, WEED and people kill it off left and right cuz it grows like crazy in some places. Not so in Iowa……yet….. Of course, I might be starting a trend. Well, not by my lonesome–they sell the plant in the nurseries around here so it’s not like I could claim credit!

    And if ya want horror stories about bugs brought in to kill off something or other, I can tell you about the Japanese Lantern Beetle. Now THERE was a great idea…….in concept only! O M G they’re awful once harvest starts to happen!!!
    There’s no confusing those suckers with ladybugs!!
    *sigh* Pesty things…..

    Comment by Mel | August 9, 2011 | Reply

  6. Shan’t say a word Mel : )
    I’m told buddliah is an alien here too but bees like it. Anyway if your buddliah is in pots it’s ok isn’t it? Can’t get too far with a pot wrapped round its feet : )
    Oh! I just looked up japanese lantern beetles – seems we have them too.

    Comment by letouttoplay | August 9, 2011 | Reply

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