BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

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

Posts tagged ‘weeds’

#365daysofbiking Flower power

April 30th – Nature gets me through times of no hope more reliably than hope gets me through times of no nature – and throughout the pandemic, for all the horror of the news and social media, the simplicity and beauty of the world continuing to turn about it’s seasonal axes is really keeping me going.

The hedgerows, waysides and edgelands are alive with ragwort, bluebells, green alkanet, forget me nots, dandelions and a whole host of others.

And on that daily exercise ride, they really bring joy to a troubled, concerned soul.

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#365daysofbiking Nothing but a bind

September 25th – There are a few flowers left, to be fair, one of the most profuse being bindweed.

Every time I mention this beautiful yet pervasive weed, I send gardeners into fits of apoplexy – they hate this crawling, strangling plant with a passion.

But I stick to my guns: Where I see it most – on towpaths boundaries, trail edgelands and scrub, it’s a beautiful, white flower that’s really under appreciated.

Sorry.

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#365daysofbiking Thistle and down

August 8th – Winching myself up Shire Oak Hill past Sandhills at the end of another long day, I noticed the thistles in the hedgerow, now gone to seed.

The breeze will soon catch those tufts of fluff and carry the attached seeds on the wind, hopefully to fertile fresh soil.

I loved how silly and beautiful the downy, soft seed carries were and how they caught the light. Thistles really are beautiful plants.

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#365daysofbiking Budgie bliss

August 1st – Groundsel is a common but interesting weed. It spreads and is host to a number of diseases and lungi that affect other plants, like rust fungi and black root rot, but is also supportive of small songbirds and a host of Lepidoptera.

Groundsel is thought to be mildly toxic to humans.

it’s been known for years that cage birds like canaries and budgerigars love groundsel (and chickweed) and as a child I was often sent to pluck some from the hedgerows for grandad’s budgie, which would devour any proffered without hesitation.

It’s a very hardy widespread weed, and is so common and unassuming, I think it largely exists unnoticed. However, if you actually stop to study it, it’s rather pretty.

Weeds are always worth a look – they can be surprisingly beautiful.

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#365daysofbiking Dark centre

July 18th – Yesterday, I found a plant that I considered may be wild carrot due to the presence of a tiny, dark flower in the centre of it’s otherwise creamy white umbrel. I wrote:

The reason I think this is wild carrot is the presence of a tiny dark flower in the centre of the head to attract insects – I’ll have another look tomorrow to verify this.

That is definitely a tiny, dark purple flower, so this plant is indeed wild carrot. Another baffling, wondrous feature you have to wonder the path towards.

This lovely wildflower was certainly keeping the overflies busy too.

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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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August 19th – One of the more startling recolonisations of recent years has been the teasel. This dramatic, prehistoric looking plant grows a familiar, spiny seedhead beloved of small songbirds, particularly finches, but the name teasel comes from its industrial use as a comb for ‘teasing’ wool into thread.

When I was young these were a rarity around here, and I never saw one of these tall plants until adulthood. Now, thankfully, they are profuse and in lots of wayside hedges, scrubs, meadows and field-margins – which is helping the bird population.

August 1st – One of the less obvious food sources for smaller birds like goldfinches are the wind-borne seeds of dandelions, ragwort, thistle and here, rosebay willowherb. Growing like buddleia in any urban setting where there’s a scrap of extractable nutrition, this prolific weed has gorgeous pink flowers and produces huge amounts of fluff, containing its seeds.

Small birds will spend ages on seedbeds picking out the tiny black seeds and gorging upon them. It’s fascinating to watch, and these are an excellent source of nutrition.

Everything has a purpose in nature.

September 18th – It was grey and just after heavy rain when I returned to Brownhills. There traffic had been bad I I hit the canal through Central Brownhills. 

On the old cement works bridge, teases grow well every year, and this year there are a fine crop, looking as prehistoric and alien as ever.

These wonderful weeds go largely unnoticed, but they are fascinating. Taking their name from their utility for teasing out cloth and yarn, they now provide winter food for songbirds, particularly goldfinches.

June 28th – One of the plants that’s commonly considered a nuisance and confined to edge lands and waste ground is rose bay willowherb, or old man’s beard.I’ve always felt the scorn for this violet midsummer trooper was unfair, as it’s another beautiful weed.

Fast growing with well-recognised wind-borne seeds, this tall plant is seen in hedgerows and other land that goes untended. It has a beautiful smell and adds a lovely purple tinge to otherwise dull spaces.

I’ll get you all looking at your weeds in a new light if it kills me…