BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘wasteland’

#365daysofbiking Interdependence

September 2nd – The Darlaston Robins Pincushion Galls are looking really amazing right now – the one on the main ‘trunk’ (stalk? Branch?) of the wild rose is the largest I’ve ever seen, and still growing – now the size of a tennis ball, but elongated. On the outer leaves, the one that clearly misfired across multiple leaf nodes is causing odd, isolated patches of gall growth on leaves and twigs that look almost tumourous in nature.

This is an absolutely fascinating thing and I make no apologies for regularly featuring it. This is part of the wasp gall’s lifecycle and it’s absolutely stunning that such a tiny insect should co-opt and corrupt the growth of a plant to create such a host for its larva.

Amazing stuff.

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#365daysofbiking Herbivore

July 15th – The flowers continue to appear daily. Rosebay willowherb is the latest – a beautiful, tall weed, it paints wasteland, hedgerows, scrubs and derelict land with a beautiful hade of purple, complimenting the buddleia which it competes against for light and space.

In a few weeks it will seed with fluffy, wind-born seeds that float on the breeze and were locally known as ‘fairies’ when I was a kid, hence it’s colloquial name ‘Old man’s beard’.

We really should look more closely at the plants we dismiss as weeds.

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#365daysofbiking Look closer

June 5th – On the wasteland, long unused at the junction of Bentley Mill Way and the Walsall Road at Darlaston, unexpected beauty.

Look once, and it’s a patch of unremarkable, but lush green scrub with gorse flower and a variety of trees – doing well despite last year’s grassfires here.

But look closer.

Lupins. Loads and loads of them. In the full colour range from creamy white to deep, deep purple.

I know this journal is all about the flowers at the moment, but with beauty such as this everyday just waiting to be found, how can it not be?

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October 11th – Oh boy. Not more that a few days ago, I was bemoaning the lack of decent fungus this year, and was stunned to find a sing fly agaric toadstool in the usual spot near Chasewater, then this.

I was shotting along the canal through Pleck of all places, and as I rode a red flash on top of the canal cutting embankment caught my eye. Scrambling up there to investigate, I saw found one of the best crops of these cute red and white spotted fungi I’ve ever seen.

Large, profuse and very beautiful, these are in the heart of formerly industrial, urban Walsall, in a place few humans would ever think to go. A really wonderful find.

April 28th – A beautiful morning but yet again, very cold. It’s like spring has been underway in every form except the temperature, which is stuck resolutely in early March.

The chill hasn’t stopped the spring arrivals, however; daisies, buttercups, cowslips and other grassland flowers are booming, and the dandelions in particular are superb at the moment.

These lovely yellow flowers, so often ignored, are a gorgeous colour and actually fascinating if you stop to study them.

So great to have them back.

August 25th – The land at the bottom of Bentley Mill Way, wedged in behind the houses on the Darlaston Road, the motorway and canal has been vacant and derelict a very long time, in fact as long as I can remember. Blighted by former shallow mining, and probably contaminated, this is scarred industrial wasteland that also has the River Tame flowing through it. 

Since last year, work has been taking place on upgrading the adjacent Bentley Mill Way for a new improved road system, loftily touted to ‘improve development potential’.

In all the regeneration-bullshit that’s ebbed and flowed, there has been talk of reclaiming this land and building on it, and architect’s drawings of a particularly odd building have been circulated.

Someone has clearly been enticed here, as fresh boreholes have been drilled in the last week; those coloured pipes with locked caps are sleeved bores for surveying purposes.

Whilst the wasteland green is pretty in the summer, it would be nice to see building here. Let’s hope something happens soon.

June 16th – A remarkable year for wildflowers, and the lupins in particular have been spectacular. At the wasteland at the bottom of Bentley Mill Way between Darlaston and Pleck they’re blending with gorse and other wildflowers to bring a welcome splash of colour in unexpected places.

The downy seed pods are fascinating too.

September 9th – This is bothering me. On the border between Darlaston and Walsall at Bentley Bridge, there’s a field of meadow-scrub next to the nascent River Tame. There has been planning permission granted here for a warehouse and new driveways and drainage which have never been built – instead, the land is being used ostensibly as storage, but is more akin to a flytip.

Building materials, old pallets and scrap, including a couple of portable site toilets are strewn around, and the water that must run off this site into the Tame is more than likely contaminated by the waste here.

I have mentioned this to Walsall Council, who assured me something was being done, although I’m not sure they understood the location or where I was referring to.

This can’t be allowable, surely?

July 22nd – The Mad Old Baggage noted the other day that buddleia was known as the ‘butterfly bush’ – and she’s right. By a busy roadside in Walsall, the purple, masonry-destroying shrub is quietly reclaiming the built, and using it to nurture the lepidoptera.

It may be a plant of the margins, scrubs and wastes, but buddleia is a bright, beautiful shrub that clearly supports a whole host of bugs – which can’t be bad.

A fantastic sight.