diaryPlants by the Pond

Richard Bell’s Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Saturday, 26th April, 2008

bluebellbluebellWHEN WE moved here and the first of the bluebells appeared in the border by the hedge, I assumed that they were some from the local wood that had been transplanted here but were growing more vigorously in the deeper soil and more open aspect. In fact they're a garden variety - the Spanish Bluebell. I like them at this stage before the flowers open. The flowers are bigger and brasher than our native species and they don't hang from the stem in slender bells like our woodland version.

Dandelions are looking so fresh at the moment. They soon set seed and I guess that in two weeks time there will be more 'dandelion clocks' than flowers.

bistortThe bark-chip path that I laid down last autumn gives me a space where I can put down a square of cargo liner and squat down to drawn the bistort which I planted by the edge of the pond.

frogOne frog (right): it's not surprising that the pond seems under-populated after the regular visits we had from a pair of mallards a couple of weeks ago.

Later, digging into the compost heap I disturbed a toad, considerably smaller than a golf ball but a similar shape as he sat with afflicted dignity on my hand when I transferred him to the safety of a nearby banking, pierced by a few mouse-holes.

A Wall Lichen

LecanoralobesLecanoraThis crusty greyish-green lichen is growing on an old piece of concrete paving at the edge of the pond. After I'd drawn it I took my hand lens from my art bag and took a closer look at it. It was like zooming in on the landscape of some alien planet.

lobesThe lichen has lobes around the perimeter and all over the broken crust that makes up the centre there are sorithe spore-producing bodies which The Observer's Book of Lichens aptly describes as 'resembling jam tarts with red, brown or black jam, and whitish grey rims'.

From the descriptions I would identify this as Lecanora muralis, a species which can survive quite well in areas with polluted air, often on concrete, as here but also on asbestos roofs, rocks and gravestones. It is less common in places with clean air.

Out of the Drawer

It did me good to take off the entire morning to sit by the pond drawing flowers. I realise that, for the last 18 months really, I've been taking on too much and at times a month has gone by and I've done hardly any drawing just for fun but taking a few hours off seems to have got me back into the habit and when we set off for a meal at Barbara's sister's I took my current favourite pen, the brown 0.8 Pilot Drawing Pen, and picked out a new sketchbook from the drawer. Actually it's not so new, it was a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law several years ago and it's just been waiting in the drawer for its opportunity.

It's a hardback A6 notebook. I usually go for spiral bound as it opens more easily on the scanner but this book is for fun drawings only so if I've got a few problems with scanning that doesn't really matter, however it is section sewn so that shouldn't be much of a problem.