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Monday, 21 December 2009

Wed 26th August - Sandown Station.

This week was a new site for us, at Station Approach in Sandown. About two years ago this path, which leads to the station, was transformed from a tangled mess of concrete and weeds, to a border garden with plants and artwork, with local children from the High School involved in its creation and planting. The area has since become very overgrown, so our tasks were to do a fair amount of weeding and pruning of the many shrubs that were originally planted; we also had a large pile of bark delivered, which was barrowed round to the site once the weeding was complete to refresh the mulch.

Carrie’s Nature Lesson

Two for the price of one this time, our finds being Wild Carrot (Daucus Carota) and Purple Toadflax (Linaria Purpurea). Wild Carrot is a member of the Umbelliferae family, so called because their flowers are arranged into a flat umbrella-like head or umbel, and can be identified from other common family members because the bracts fringing the umbel are three forked. It flowers from June to September in fairly infertile, free draining and usually calcareous soils, and the long stout taproot allows it to exploit drier environments. Regeneration is entirely by seed, and it is attractive to a wide variety of specialised pollen and nectar feeding insects such as bees, hoverflies and beetles.

Purple toadflax grows on rough ground and walls, and was introduced from the Mediterranean. It has spires of small purple flowers similar to snapdragons, on tall stems with narrow grey-green leaves arranged in dense whorls. It will grow in any well-drained soil in a sunny position, and spreads by underground runners. It is a valuable species for bees, hoverflies and moths, including the day flying silver Y and hummingbird hawk moths. We also found a very faded looking Painted Lady sunning itself on the wall.

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