Monday, 29 July 2013

Practical Session Report - July Part 2

Each July we have two sessions as the growth of grass tends to be too much if left until August. However, this year, with the hot spell and lack of rain, meant that there was very little grass growth.

Luckily this coincided with the starter cord for the lawn mower snapping. This meant that we couldn't cut the short areas of grass and had to concentrate with the long grass - which Ivan cut with the strimmer.

We had some great sightings such as the Ringlet butterfly above and this Common Toad, as seen below.
 Ivan found the Toad while he was strimming around the Tombs, something that we wouldn't have seen if the mower had been working - a nice silver lining.

 We also spotted this Soldier Beetle and this Green-veined White feeding on the flower of the Common Cat's-Ear plant.

So, the mower is currently being fixed and normal service should be resumed in August. Which is likely to be ideal with the downpours of rain we've been having - there will likely be lots of grass to rake up!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Practical Session Report - July Part 1

The wheelbarrow at rest - as we have our break.
With the weather being good to us, the cut grass was quite light and easy to rake. Which is fab, as it gave us all chance to slow down a bit and enjoy each other's company.

In the weeks intervening our last session and this, the ox-eye daisy had bloomed and was on its' way out. However, there were plenty of plants that were providing lovely blooms.

Good examples include lady's mantle, near the porch and navelwort, which grows along the front wall and had been growing flower stalks since May.

The wall held other surprises in store too, including these stonecrops. White stonecrop to the left and a 6 petalled English stonecrop to the right; both can be seen on the side wall between the Yew tree and the side gate.

As mentioned last month, here's the Tutsan in full flower. As they develop they'll turn from the white and green seen here through to red and finally black. They're poisonous to us, so not berries to be picked, but are commonly eaten by birds who distribute the seeds.

The star of the show this month was a new species for the churchyard. It was the only specimen and is a hybrid between two other species. With that being said, we're really happy to welcome...
Druce's Cranes-bill - Geranium endressii x versicolor = G. x oxonianum

In the next couple of months we'll be looking forward to this patch of common valerian coming into flower along with this lady's bedstraw.

I've also added our flora list to the blog so you can see all of the species that we find, where we found them, and when they're in bloom. It's available here or by clicking the Flora List link under the churchyard banner at the top.

The next session is on Saturday 27 July - we hope to see you there.

Monday, 1 July 2013

The Parish Life - July

There will be double the fun in July as we regularly meet on two Saturdays. Dates for July are Sat. 6th and Sat. 17th both 09.30-12.00.  We look forward to seeing you for a drink in the sun, just to socialize or to help out a little.

The Yellow Rattle, Birds Foot Trefoil and Dropwort will still be in flower encouraging the meadowland butterflies.The meadowland conservation movement is certainly gathering pace. Roadside verges are being left to thrive in places, although there are many longstanding protected verges in Wiltshire, two of which I monitor. Wildflower growing is encouraged on any patch that you have spare and that is a good thing for insects as well. It makes me realize how long the grass sward at St. Giles has remained in its present condition and the species that live there. We are now helping the flora and fauna to flourish by our continued management.

Tim, one of our regular helpers has now set up a blog which can be accessed using

The National Project, Caring for Gods Acre were so impressed by this site they are putting it in their Newsletter as an excellent example. Tim and Sue now also monitor our flower species on a monthly basis and records are sent to the Biological Records Centre database in Devizes. Trends are checked both positive and negative to help give us an understanding of the natural worlds inter-dependancies.

A surprising number of native plants are poisonous, so make sure what they are when tossing a wild salad. At St. Giles grows a fairly widespread plant Woody Nightshade or Bittersweet. With its stars of purple and gold, and vivid red berries, this plant clambers alluringly over the hedgerows. The Second Commandment forbids the worship of idols.  Idols are addictive substitutes for God which in the end poison the soul. The generic name for Nightshade Solanum comes from the same root as Solace. Religious faith at its best is a source of solace and joy.  It is sad that so many people seek solace in addictive substances, when they could find real and lasting happiness in the joy of worship in contemplation of the natural world and in the companionship of Gods people.

We look forward to you joining us in July.

Contributed by:Ivan, Coordinator