Monthly Archives: September 2020

Medlar Hybrid

I have mentioned previously an unusual Midland Hawthorn and Medlar hybrid in Centre Vale at Todmorden. It has flowered profusely for a few years after releasing from the heavy shade of Rhododendron but has never produced any fruit.

However this Autumn there is a branch that is full of berries, perhaps for the first time in decades. Each contains 2 seeds.

If you want to grow from seed, they have double dormancy and below are instructions from a website I consulted. I think patience is needed as the process takes 2 years!

To begin with the seeds require a cold period to break the final part of the dormancy, this is achieved by placing the bag [with seeds in a soil medium] in the fridge (4 Celsius or 39F) for around 52 weeks.

Next the seeds require a period of warm pre-treatment and need to be kept in temperatures of around 20 Celsius (68F) for a period of at least 36 weeks. During this time make sure that the pre-treatment medium does not dry out at any stage or it will be ineffective!

Following this, the seeds require a second cold period for around 17 weeks. Towards the end of this period it is quite possible for the seeds to germinate in the bag at these temperatures when they are ready to do so, (it is worth checking the bag every few weeks for germinating seedlings) if they do, just remove them from the bag and carefully plant them up.

Trees. Smith's Medlar


2020-09-30T08:50:30+01:00September 28th, 2020|3 Comments


I came across this very distinctive worm in my garden this afternoon. I didn’t know what it was, but had a horrible feeling that it wasn’t good. I was right! It’s one of the ten or so foreign predatory flatworms that are spreading across the country, brought in accidentally in plant compost. They feed on earthworms and other soil invertebrates, some species becoming invasive and having a hugely detrimental effect on soil health. Parts of Scotland and Ireland have been particularly badly affected.

I think this one is Caenoplana variegata, first recorded in the UK in 2008 but native to Australia. There were two of them under a plastic sheet among lots of earthworms and other invertebrates. The earthworms wriggled in the sun and headed off along the path within seconds. In contrast,  the flatworms took longer to extend and make a move but when they got going they put on quite a turn of speed. The leaf is about 3 cm long.


This species has a distinctive yellow stripe but they come in various forms. We have four native species of flatworm but they are much smaller and are found in freshwater environments, so any found in the soil are usually non-native.

We are very aware of Himalayan balsam and Japanese knot-weed, but less so of the potentially catastrophic damage these accidentally introduced animals are doing at the bottom of the food chain. Shouldn’t we be more careful about introduced garden plants? It certainly make me feel uneasy about all the exotic plants I’ve bought from garden centres over the years.

It is recommended that you don’t share plants in soil from an affected garden. There is unfortunately very little to be done to control them otherwise.

If you find a flatworm in your garden, you can help chart their spread by completing the Buglife Flatworm Survey.

Julian Birkhead

2020-09-27T21:00:06+01:00September 27th, 2020|2 Comments

New Regulations and Walks

Following new regulations about group sizes we have decided that we will continue to run organised walks but with new conditions.
Walks will have one leader and a maximum of 5 attendees.
As such, any person wishing to attend must contact the walk leader in advance to book a place.

Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

If there is a lot of interest then we may be able to arrange two leaders with staggered start times or run the walk on more than one occasion.
So, have a look at the calender and book your places now to give leaders the maximum time to make arrangements.

2020-09-15T09:54:54+01:00September 15th, 2020|0 Comments

Large Caterpillar

I believe this to be an Elephant Hawk Moth. It was on the kerb by the roadside in Todmorden, so I brought it home and put it in the garden area. I know the adult Moth is common but I have not seen the caterpillar before. It has a long snout but when disturbed it retracts it and makes a big head with those 2 “eyes” to intimidate other creatures.

Elephant Hawk moth

Elephant Hawk moth

2020-09-13T08:12:11+01:00September 12th, 2020|3 Comments

Hard Shield Fern

Today Peachysteve and I walked up the stream in one of the steep-sided cloughs in Henacre Wood at the Queensbury end of Shibden Valley.
We were looking to record the location of the Soft Shield Fern Laurence and I saw earlier in the year.

We missed the Soft Shield Fern but found a Hard Shield Fern on the other side

Collecting a specimen involved a bit of ‘extreme botanising’ from Peachysteve

Polystichum aculeatum, a specialist of damp wooded gorges.
The first I’ve seen and a nice one to add to the list

Julian Birkhead

2020-09-06T18:22:21+01:00September 6th, 2020|2 Comments

Castle Carr Road

Just a test ….. !

Castle Carr Road yesterday afternoon.
Found two dead Brown Hares, around 250m apart, obviously looking like road-kills.
One looked like a juvenile two/thirds grown and the other a full grown adult, the latter had started to be eaten by Carrion Crows.
Unfortunate to lose such lovely animals.
I guess if the traffic didn’t move so fast then the creatures may have stood a chance!

Brown Hare roadkill - Castle Carr Road

2020-09-06T08:18:40+01:00September 5th, 2020|2 Comments

Warley Moor – Posted by Dave Sutcliffe

 Euphrasia species ??
Lots of it in flower all along the reservoir embankment this morning.
Very tiny, creeping among the other plants especially on the exposed part of the west facing ridge.
These are the best I could get as didn’t have the macro lens with me.

2020-09-03T08:09:06+01:00September 3rd, 2020|1 Comment
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