Saturday, 16 July 2011

Opportunists


Crane's Bill - Herb Robert
Geranium Robertianum

has made its home in the crack of a sheer rock face high above the river Teme on Whitcliff Common.

In the Middle Ages there was a widespread belief in the 'doctrine of signatures'. This meant that any plant with curative properties would reveal the divine purpose for which it was intended through its shape or colour. In the case of herb-robert, the hairy stems and leaves turn a fiery red in autumn, or when the plant is growing in dry, exposed situations. It followed, according to the logic of medieval times, that herb-robert should be used in the treatment of blood disorders. The 'robert' of the plant's name is believed to be a corruption of the Latin 'ruber', meaning red; but it may also have been derived from the name of Robert, an early Duke of Normandy, for whom a celebrated medieval treatise was written.





There's nothing extraordinary about Nasturtiums, 
Tropaeolum majus,

except that once you have it in the garden, or anywhere else, it's yours for life, self-seeding profusely, clothing walls and fences or covering whole banks. For a blaze of red, orange or yellow, plant in poor, free-draining soil, and do not feed.  Nasturtiums suffer from blackfly infestations; spray, if you want to. Once affected, I rip mine out; a few seeds will have escaped already, waiting to burst into renewed glory next year.

This opportunist shoot has forced its way through a narrow crack between two planks in a long, creosoted wooden fence.







The grey squirrel needs no introduction. This fellow hung here for a long time, working out how he could reach the few remaining nuts in the feeder without losing his precarious hold on the slippery bars of the wrought iron feeding stand. He managed it in the end and I didn't have the heart to shoo him off. But I waited with the re-fills until he had gone.







Jackdaws are the most notorious robbers in the crow family; the thieving habits of the jackdaw were celebrated by the early 19th-century humorous poet Richard Harris Barham in his poem The Jackdaw of Rheims, wherein the Jackdaw steals the ring of the Cardinal Lord Archbishop.

Apart from snatching and hiding such inedible objects, the jackdaw occasionally steals young birds and eggs, which it adds to its diet of seeds, fruit, insects and carrion. I am happy to report that this Great Spotted Woodpecker youngster was a little too grown-up for the jackdaw.






And finally,
the family rain-coat wearing, leather-hatted and Wellington-booted
example of the common-or-garden variety of the female of the
labrador-walking species, a.k.a. Friko, catching a break between showers.



42 comments:

  1. I love crows, I really do! They are so resilient and so intelligent. They never give up. If they need (or want) something they will go to extreme ends to get it. They are wonderful parents and extremely loyal. I know everyone hates crows but I don't understand why. I think they are more amazing than eagles. Eagles rely of their physical strength and vision but crows rely on strength, intelligence and patience. What's not to love?

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  2. Lovely flora pictures. I've taken thousands of such pictures, blossoms, trees, grasses, etc., and I sometimes just go back through the photos and smile. I'm easy to please. :)

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  3. ha. nice snap of you...smiles. that squirrel is so cool...they are playful and for that they get my heart....

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  4. How splendid to see you grabbing the opportunity to escape into the wild , without drowning .
    I would have done too .... but I think I blinked and missed it .

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  5. This is a good post for a rainy day such as we're having over here (13 degrees and damp - summer?).
    I love the family raincoat. You two must be near one another in height - we are more than a foot apart, so there is no sharing of coats!

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  6. Wonderful photos and dialogue Friko. Nature's gift of the tenacity to survive. I love reading about how plants and herbs were used through the ages as curatives.
    The photo of you is a classic.

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  7. I particularly like this post. I suppose because of its simplicity--plants growing, what looks like a walk down memory lane, and a patient squirrel hanging about.

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  8. I like flowers that you can pull out, knowing they'll be back. Forget-me-nots are the same as nasturtiums for that, although part of their strategy for spreading seeds includes latching on to furry dogs. Woodpeckers always make me smile.

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  9. A delightful, family-style post today, Friko. I really enjoyed it. You made me think of nasturtiums, which are annuals here in Zone 3a. We get far more than a few degrees of frost! -35 Celsius is not at all unusual.
    What I liked best today, however, was the Herb Robert. I just have to admire a plant growing so beautifully in such inhospitable conditions!

    —Kay, Alberta, Canada

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  10. Love the floral pics ... and that squirrel ... hainging with one foot. Such rascals! I most particularly love that last photo ... very sweet

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  11. I sure do know that gray squirrel pose! We've not had nasturtiums proliferate as yours have. I do remember once buying a seed packet of so-called Italian rustic arugula. I too late figured out "rustic" was code for "invasive." We were pulling it out of our flower beds 10 years later.

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  12. Mr. Squirrel appears to be quite agile & probably knows your refill schedule!
    Such a great blue raincoat for a walk. We are terribly hot & humid with more on the way. Cool shorts & a shirt are the dress of the day for now.

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  13. Oh, but don't the opportunists always find a way in, bursting forth to announce their presence!

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  14. 'a few seeds will have escaped already, waiting to burst into renewed glory next year.'

    So it goes.

    I love the photograph of my 'family rain-coat wearing, leather-hatted and Wellington-booted example of the common-or-garden variety of the female of the
    labrador-walking species' friend.

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  15. The final variety, easily recognised in the English countryside, by its extraordinary blue plumage.

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  16. Du lässt die Natur lebendig werden und man hat fast das Gefühl, Deine Bilder würden sich bewegen. Ich beneide Dich um dieses "häusliche" Eichhörnchen, mit dem Du sichtlich Freundschaft geschlossen hast..!
    Ein Post, das einen freut und die Grossartigkeit der Natur und Tiere wiedereinmal unterstreicht!
    Dir einen sehr schönen ereignisreichen Tag, liebe Friko!
    Renée

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  17. Hello:
    What an intriguing mix of opportunists you offer us here. We rather like the way that some plants choose where they shall grow no matter how well one tries to persuade them otherwise. A favourite for us from our gardening days was Papaver Cambrica which we can never remember having planted but which would surprise and delight every spring as its happy sunny faces popped up in the most unlikely places.

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  18. I LOVED this post, Friko. Super photographs, such interesting snippets and a delightful peek into the opportunists that brightened your day. It is always a treat to visit your blog. You never fail to succeeed in prodding my sluggish brain cells into action!

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  19. Great photos - It looks like squirrel is doing his stretching exercises.

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  20. friko i'm especially grateful for opportunist plants, opportunist anything actually. i admire their tenacity and optimism. after all they must know they're coming into my garden - a much loved but not very well-cared for part of the world!!! great raincoat! the english raincoats are the best in the world. steven

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  21. Friko, I am taking this breakfast time opportunity to tell you how much I enjoyed this post. The pace, the grace, the wonderful storytelling pictures and words have reminded me of certain beauties of summertime. You've also taught me a bit about nature's wonder.

    Thank you!

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  22. Lovely! I always enjoy your posts, but something about the gentle nature of this one, except of course for the jackdaw, everything else was just so lovely! He looks mean, doesn't he? I have a juvenile Northern Flicker who is about the same size as your adolescent woodpecker.

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  23. I love nasturtiums but I never think to plant them.

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  24. That last picture says it all. That path is perfect for catching a glimpse of a shy bird too. It pleases the eye.
    Manzanita@Wannabuyaduck

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  25. i love the squirrel and bird shots (pretty amazing, considering my history with feathered fiends). it's also nice to see Benno up and about, and not in his usual sunny spot :)

    nasturtium in salads. yum.

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  26. Your photos are outstandingly composed, with excellent subjects and especially backgrounds.

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  27. What a contrast between your weather and ours. We dress as skimpily as modesty allows to stay cool, while you have to don coat, hat an boots to stay dry. I could use a day like yours.

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  28. After reading a children's book about a native american girl who adopted a crow, I've fallen for them and now see them everywhere.

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  29. That is one acrobatic squirrel! Is that really you under all that raincoat? Necessary, though.
    Nasturtiums are quite tasty in salads...

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  30. You actually do write the best blog, for two reasons off the top of my head: lots of variety, even if you do have themes that you revisit, and the fact that you do your research, not just pull stuff out of your head.

    This was quite delightful, and the picture was really great - made me laugh.
    The real me

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  31. Wonderful photos! I love them all...particularly the nasturtium (mine have been duly neglected, and are stating to reappear :) )

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  32. Wonderful flower shots! And I adore your 'portrait' -- what a great raincoat!

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  33. Hello! or should I say "Guten Tag"?! From one Hausfrau to another ... thank you for visiting my blog. I enjoyed reading/seeing this post. We have those red-head woodpeckers where I live here in Missouri, USA! Unfortunately, they peck on my HOUSE which has wood siding! :-O I look forward to reading more from you.

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  34. Oh Friko, you've done it again. I love your story of the masks, and backed up to the post from a day or so ago, regarding the garden and other wildlife, including the owner of the handsome blue rain coat. Wonderful "you-are-there" photos. Thanks, for the lift. Dianne

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  35. I'm so glad your wellies are green - but I'm green with envy for your leather hat - mine's only wool felt!

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  36. Loved your images and words chronicling your flora and fauna, including the family raincoat wearer.

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  37. We have masses of herb robert in our garden and I love the smell of it. I pull it up all the time otherwise it smothers other things but it pops up everywhere. If it's not asserting itself I leave it.
    I like plants that self-seed and like the spots they choose to grow.

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  38. What a delight! I love the garden pics...all of 'em!

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  39. your UK squirrels act just like our American ones. :)

    lovely lab you have - benno. beautiful!

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