Sunday, March 3, 2013

Naked ladies in Roland's Wood

Now there's a headline to conjure with...  Amaryllis belladonna must have one of the most beautiful official plant names, along with its cheeky common name of naked ladies...

The name Amaryllis belladonna was created by Carl Linnaeus in 1753 - Amaryllis taken from a shepherdess in Virgil's pastoral Eclogues, from the Greek word amarysso, meaning "to sparkle". There has been some controversy in the plant world about their classification, depending on whether Linnaeus's was a South American or a South African plant, and you can read all about it in Wikipedia.

Anyway, they are flowering in profusion at the moment in Roland's Wood - along the top ridge, under trees and out in the grassy areas, pink and white drifts in the sunshine.

Like the bluebells, these bulbs will continue to multiply and spread, along with the additional ones which have been planted, so come back in ten years time and it will be a sea of pink and white naked ladies - of the flowering variety!

Beech trees humming with bees

If you take a wander past the beech trees in Roland's Wood on these summery days you'll hear the busy hum of thousands of bees.

It needs a better photographer than I am to capture the buzz of activity, but you can just see one in this picture, and trust me when I say that there were dozens more all zooming all around...

They are collecting honeydew, a sugary, sticky liquid which is exuded by woolly aphids - you can see their white fluffy bodies on the undersides of the leaves and along stems, and the sticky coating of their honeydew making the leaves all shiny. In this picture you can even see a droplet of it funneled down a leaf to the branch, ready to splash down and varnish the leaves below, making them irresistible to the bees.

The honeydew can become covered with black sooty mould which may look bad but once it gets colder and the aphids go, the mould dries up and falls off the plant.

Isn't it great to think of Roland's Wood providing such bounty for bees which are having a harder time of it these days...