ju1i3's blog

Observing Weeds

I try to leave things exactly the way they are when I take a plant photo. If there's rubbish, that's the environment in which it is growing. Cigarette butts are also useful for showing scale.

I saw this monkey flower along Regent's Canal near me in northwest London. It was something I didn't recognise but the leaves are quite unique. An exotic garden escapee.

monkey flower

-update- a couple weeks later

monkeyflower

and in the wider environment

monkeyflower environment

It obviously grew last year. I never noticed it but imagine any flowers would have been quickly picked as the numbers walking the towpath are quite large. 

monkey flower

-update- couple weeks later

monkeyflower canal

monkeyflower

A couple weeks later I saw another monkeyflower.

monkeyflower

and its wider environment

monkeyflower

it's a tough environment for plants, amazing any survive at all, the monkey flower is at the base of the wall on the right

regent's canal towpath

further along the canal the alexanders are blooming

alexanders flower

alexanders flowers

I've been observing a lot of initial basal rosettes and hope to identify and document all those I see. There have been a lot of hedge mustard and shepherd's purse especially and it's easy to confuse the two. That initial rosette of leaves is not observable on the shepherd's purse by the time it blooms.

shepherd's purse

back in my garden the ivy berries are huge, looking like bunches of grapes

ivy berries

after total failures both attempting to grow monkshood from seed and buying some small plants in the "wildflower" range from the garden centre (which never came back the next year), I bought 2 full-size plants last year as an impulse purchase from a garden centre (I try not to buy full size plants) and they've actually survived the winter and are growing, amazing

monkshood new shoots

A World of Weeds in Two Planters

The lack of weeds / wildflowers recently has been so depressing with new building developments and weedkiller limiting their numbers, so finding these planters full of weeds (outside Warren St / UCLH on Euston Rd) has been a real treat. I've been down there a few times and noticed new things each time. A previous recent blog entry featured a Study in Nipplewort which I saw in this planter.  I'll go back in a couple days to check on some, especially the swine cress buds.

looking west, the other planter is across the road

looking east to the other planter

weed trough outside UCLH

The most interesting thing I've seen is swine cress which I'd never seen before. Why I'd see so much of it here and none anywhere else, I don't know. Certainly the neglect of these planters has been beneficial for the weeds and I'm pleased.

swine cress

these are the fattest buds I've seen on the swine cress so will go back in a couple days

swine cress buds

swine cress

swine cress

swine cress

swine cress

swine cress

swine cress buds

swine cress

smooth sow thistle, to the right small rosettes of swine cress, nipplewort, hairy bittercress, groundsel, petty spurge

another smooth sow thistle

smooth sow thistle

compare the smooth sow thistle leaves above with the hedge mustard below which has very textured grey-ish green leaves, both have similar rosettes of lobed leaves

hedge mustard

close-up of one of the hedge mustard leaves

hedge mustard leaf

ribwort plantain, few shoots of petty spurge

ribwort plantain

mouse-ear chickweed

mouse-ear chickweed

mouse-ear chickweed

hairy bittercress

hairy bittercress

hairy bittercress

hairy bittercress

hairy bittercress starts with a low rosette of leaves and then a taller flowering stem emerges as below

hairy bittercress

prickly sow thistle surrounded by swine cress, hairy bittercress to the left

prickly sow thistle

common knotgrass

common field-speedwell

common field-speedwell

common field-speedwell flower bud close-up

common field speedwell

nipplewort

nipplewort

dandelion

dandelion

mallow

mallow

herb robert

herb robert

groundsel

groundsel

a little further north from the intersection with the planters (in view of the Post Office Tower) is this weed which I've been trying to identify, wild lettuce? prickly lettuce?

the cold weather has been tough on it but it's still alive and green

it's soft and not prickly at all even though the leaves have this edge

Weed Therapy

(adapted from Bird Therapy as seen on Winterwatch 2019)

1. Learn
2. Be Active
3. Connect
4. Give
5. Take Notice

I will also add, 6. Be Patient. It can take months of observing a plant and seeing how it develops and blooms before being able to identify it.

only while at my pc did I notice those tiny buds in the centre, thinking this is swine cress (a new weed - to me), waiting (impatiently but trying for patiently) for further development

weed rosette

Geranium Molle, early rosette. I didn't notice those square stems next to it. Think that's the smooth sow thistle I was photographing but concentrating on the buds not the stems. Never realized they were so square at the bottom.

geranium molle

Not sure on this but thinking mayweed?

possibly mayweed

A Study in Nipplewort

I happened to walk past a planter on Euston Rd that had a lot of weeds, including nipplewort, in all stages of its development so thought it would be interesting to have a look at it.

initial nipplewort rosette

nipplewort initial rosette

second rosette with additional leaves

nipplewort rosette

3rd nipplewort rosette, thick with leaves

nipplewort rosette

4th photo with the nipplewort as a small plant with larger leaves rather than just a low rosette

nipplewort small plant

5th photo with longer thinner leaves at the top of the nipplewort plant and flower buds (not to be confused with the smooth sow thistle behind inc its darker leaf on the left)

nipplewort

6th photo with a taller nipplewort plant and a number of flower buds, clear longer thinner leaves

nipplewort

7th photo with the first nipplewort flower in bloom and additional buds, The differently shaped leaves going up the plant are clearly visible.

nipplewort

 final 8th photo of the nipplewort with a number of flowers and a number of buds

nipplewort

December 2018

Dec 9th, the weather has been mild and the snapdragons are continuing to bloom.

scabious Perfection Blue snapdragons

the scabious Perfection Blue is looking better every day

scabiosa Perfection Blue

the delphinium buds haven't opened but they haven't completely wilted either, salvia Amistad behind still has a few flowers

delphinium salvia amistad

I've tried to grow catnip (Nepeta cataria) indoors but the seedlings are struggling. I've had to give up and put them outside.

catnip seedlings indoors

Beginning of December, my scabious Perfection Blue is finally in bloom. I sowed the seeds earlier this year in March, only 5 plants from a packet of seeds but I love scabious and the colour is gorgeous. I hope they will be blooming next Spring / Summer and years after.

scabiosa Perfection Blue

these viola Chicky Chicks I also grew from seed (sown in August) which I collected from the original Chicky Chicks I grew from seed last summer

viola Chicky Chicks

Borage vs Green Alkanet

In this bleak November weather, I enjoyed seeing a few things in bloom recently, including borage and green alkanet. I wanted to further compare the two as they can be so similar. The bees love both. I'm not sure the temperature range of each but I do know that green alkanet is often one of the first flowers in Spring providing food for bees and it dies back in time for other flowers to take over.

Borage

borage

Green Alknaet

green alkanet

Leaves

both hairy, slightly stinging, textured

borage (left) is rounded at the end, green alkanet (right) lanceolate pointed at the end and sometimes has blisters

borage and green alkanet leaf comparison

sometimes the borage leaves are more lanceolate

borage

Stems

borage leaves grow from the (often thick) stem

borage

green alkanet (on the right) leaves growing on stems from the base, at least initially

borage and green alkanet

older green alkanet with flowering stems

green alkanet

Flowers

borage, tight clusters of flowers (see buds to the left above), green alkanet sparser flowers (see below)

green alkanet flowers and buds

Prevalence of Borage and Green Alkanet

Green alkanet self-seeds widely and takes a while to get established before blooming. Borage self-seeds quite closely and takes less time to flower. So my garden is full of green alkanet small plants but not many borage. Top left, below, green alkanet small plants; bottom right below borage.

borage and green alkanet

Similar Leaves

Foxglove has a tight rosette initially. The leaves are very textured but very soft unlike the borage and green alkanet.

foxglove rosette

Honesty (Lunaria annua) has heart-shaped similarly textured leaves, green alkanet (with blishters on the leaves to the right)

honesty and green alkanet

end of Oct 2018

I like to keep an eye on any Japanese knotweed I see  - how fast it grows, does it get invasive, is it flowering? I went over to Regent's Park to check on one I saw last winter, which wasn't flowering at that time but it was flowering today. My first photos of Japanese knotweed flowers and buds.

japanese knotweed flowers

It was only when updating my blog here, I see the photos above and below are so similar. Not sure which is better.

japanese knotweed flowers

spray of buds there on the left

japanese knotweed

japanese knotweed buds

japanese knotweed

japanese knotweed

Another example I saw in someone's front garden. They cut it down and I saw the other day it grew back - more stems than before.

japanese knotweed

I love identifying everything I see. I love photos like this where I can fit in lots of different plants. It's clickable to a larger view but still not large enough to see everything so I've enlarged each quadrant. In the centre milk thistle, right tansy yellow flowers, left borage blue flowers, see following quadrant photos for other plants. Smooth sow thistle throughout.

milk thistle and other plants

top left, mallow top left, green alkanet large leaves

top right, flat nipplewort rosette in middle,

bottom left, salad burnet,

bottom right, green alkanet, deadnettle, salad burnet

October 2018

I noticed yesterday the sheen on the foxglove leaves and how beautiful they looked next to the campanula. Totally unplanned - both self-seeded there.

foxglove campanula

The weather has been so nice this week, I've spent a lot of time in the garden. It's given me a chance to tidy up and organise my broken terracotta pots. I love them and want to keep them so I'm going to have another go at gluing them. Previous attempts did not give good results but I am determined to try again this winter / next spring. Any unbroken ones I am putting in the cellar to avoid further breakages. This involves repotting some things temporarily into plastic but I want to preserve the vintage terracotta pots I have left.

broken terracotta pots

This has been stressful and despressing. The hollyhocks didn't do well this year which I had assumed was due to the drought and heatwave but when I collected some seed to grow more plants to ensure next year's flowers I've found severe infestation of hollyhock weevil (Apion longirostre / Rhopalapion longirostre). The holes in the seeds are because of them.

hollyhock weevil

hollyhock weevil close-up

hollyhock weevil

hollyhock seeds with holes from hollyhock weevils

hollyhock seeds with hollyhock weevil seeds

I don't need to go to the South Downs to see lots of Old Man's Beard. I saw this locally in Kentish Town. It was enormous. This tall bit of fluffy seedheads was at one end and along its expanse there were all stages of the flowers.

old man's beard

seedheads and new flowers

old man's beard

close-up of the buds and flowers

old man's beard

finished flowers before the fluffy tails have formed, very shiny

old man's beard spent flowers

then those distinctive seedheads

old man's beard seedheads

close-up of the seedheads

old man's beard

Black and blue salvia is blooming after having come back from slug destruction and the late delphinium was doing well until last Saturday (Oct 6th)'s severe rain which broke it off and brought down a trellis at the end of the garden.

black and blue salvia delphinium

Periodically I like to take all the sweepings from the patio and put them in a pot and see what I get. Not sure the exact date I started this but by 30-9-2018 after 2 or 3 weeks I can a number of seedlings: tomato, poppy and those larger ones I can't remember right now.

after another week with that longer leaf I can see the larger seedlings are cornflower, now I see deadnettle and something I'm not sure about along with those poppies

the blackcurrant sage produces flowers intermittently

blackcurrant sage

blackcurrant sage

cyclamen coum

cyclamen coum

Autumn 2018

The cats are unpredictable with the catnip. They'll ignore it for weeks and then one day pretty much destroy a plant, eating it and sitting in it.

cat in catnip

I'm not very good about digging up plants and moving them but I really have to move the globe thistles from this flowerbed as they are huge and take over so nothing else can grow really. I want to plant the self-seeded centaurea montana from that pot to join any other existing ones in the flowerbed but I fear the globe thistles crowded them out.

globe thistles

I had previously moved the globe thistles before but before I knew it there were still globe thistles in the flowerbed, whether the old ones or new self-seeded ones. To the left of the previously moved globe thistles below there's room against the fence for more so that's where they are going.

globe thistles

I managed to dig tthem up easily enough but their tap roots are broken off. Not sure how they'll like being transplanted.

globe thistles

globe thistles

I planted them in their new position to the left of the other globe thistles. It's been extremely dry so I hope they'll establish ok. Must remember to water them every day.

globe thistles

In front of those transplanted globe thistles, I've put my scabious plants. I was surprised to find yesterday that one had a flower stem and a bud. Later in the day it was bent over as I hadn't realised how dry the pot was. The garden is incredibly dry again. I watered everything, including the scabious plants and they revived.

scabious perfection blue

The pot above and the 4 below are the 5 scabious Perfection Blue I grew from seed this year. The description said blooms first year and it didn't seem as if that would happen but weather permitting I think I'll have at least one in bloom this autumn. Plant far left below looks like it might flower as well. Other 3 don't have those distinctive lobed leaves in the centre. In fact, one far right is being crowded out by a verbascum that self-seeded there, not sure the scabious will even survive. Should probably try to separate them but thought at this point I might kill one or both.

scabious perfection blue

Lesser knapweed is another plant, like the globe thistles, which is too successful. It took over this pot.

lesser knapweed

after pruning back the lesser knapweed spent stems, I can't see if there are any centaurea montana left, there certainly were some at one time

lesser knapweed

The honesty was fantastic earlier this year and growing them myself from seed, as I did last year rather than relying on the self-seeding, ensured early and large plants. I do find it difficult to pull up and discard seedlings but must thin out these honesty seedlings - much too densely planted.

honesty seedlings

I just did it quickly and determinedly. Of course, I had to repot some of the largest seedlings I pulled up.

honesty seedlings thinned out

I'm planting up some troughs with alliums for my daughter-in-law. I haven't grown allium flavum before so didn't know they came with some stem attached. Also allium azureum in the trough. I can't resist comparing different companies so two troughs with the same bulbs just different suppliers. Trough 1.

allium flavum and azureum

allium flavum and azureum trough 2

allium flavum and azureum

I went to the garden centre to get a few more bulbs for my bulb forcing and couldn't resist one of these. I've never grown them before but thought I'd give it a chance.

scilla hyacinthoides

this naughty squirrel has been digging up my seedlings, even though I'm feeding him lots of peanuts

grey squirrel

squirrel

squirrel with peanut

these cheeky slugs ate my seedlings and then laid their eggs in the nice moist pot where they were growing

slug eggs

here are the two love birds

slugs

late flowers for bees

I went to RSPB Fowlmere the other day and saw some of the late wildflowers in bloom. One of the best was this Irish ivy (Hedera hibernica) just blooming and providing the bees with nectar and pollen after so many other flowers have finished. I'm not sure if those yellow bits are pollen baskets or parts of the flower.

bee on irish ivy

Irish ivy with bee

irish ivy with bee

I think those are pollen baskets either side but not absolutely certain.

irish ivy with bee

the ivy shrub is huge and covered with flowers - and lots of bees

irish ivy

I love purple flowers and self-heal is one of my favourite. I'm attempting to grow some from seed, not sure the slugs are going to let me.

self-heal

I also love thistles. I'm not sure what one this is. I'm most familiar with spear and creeping but I don't think it's one of those. I will research it.

thistle flower close-up

it wasn't that tall, unlike most other thistles I've seen, maybe 30 cm?

thistle

thistle buds

lesser burdock, not a thistle but very thistle-like

lesser burdock

lesser burdock

there was lots of lesser burdock at Fowlmere, in all stages of growth from new buds to completely dry plants with hooked dried seed heads

I love cattails, don't often have a chance to see them up close.

cattail

I have been calling this Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum) but checking it, I think it's more correctly hemp-agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum). But I would quite like to know and understand the differences between them. Certainly lots of it at Fowlmere, at all stages, mostly fluffy spent flowerheads but also buds and flowers. Firstly, buds.

hemp-agrimony

close-up of the buds with some just starting to open

hemp-agrimony

close-up of the flowers fully open

flowers in full bloom and some starting to wilt

hemp-agrimony

dry fluffy seed heads

hemp-agrimony seed heads

I'm putting this in the "unknowns" section of the Plant Identification page as this will need some research to establish exactly what it is.

umbellifer

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