Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Path maintenance

Volunteers spent last Wednesday making repairs to the path through the valley woodland near posts 9 and 10.

Poles edging the path were either renewed, or re-inforced, with pegs to hold them in place.  Gaps in the path were filled with woodchip

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Knopper galls and powdery mildew

As the acorns form on oak trees you may see some of them being DE-formed by the growth of a knopper gall, which looks almost like a pine cone.  (Mentioned this last year on October 10th.)

These galls are produced on acorns by the tree in response to a tiny gall wasp which spends its early life on a Turkey Oak rather than our native oaks.  After mating, eggs are laid in the early stages of acorn development and the wasp larva lives and feeds inside the gall.  The galls fall to the ground in autumn and in spring female only wasps emerge and find a Turkey oak to lay more eggs.  It's only been around in the UK since the 1950s and there was a boom year in 1979.

It's not thought to be much of a problem.  The gall destroys the acorn but there are always plenty more.

Another thing you may see on oak trees currently is powdery mildew.  This is caused by a fungus and is more frequent in mild overcast summer weather.

Just two of the organisms which like to take advantage of the oak tree.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Bench seat

Our bench seat at the viewpoint, created on 1st December 2014 .  .  .

.  .  .  by stalwarts of the Friends of Filnore Woods .  .  .

..  .  . had survived 20 months.

It had been used by individuals and groups.  A popular place to enjoy the view and have a rest after the climb up the hill.

More recentkly it has been the focus for campfires, which rather spoilt its appearance and appeal for others.

Last weekend, sadly, it disappeared altogether, as if in a puff of smoke.

So we shall have to replace it.  
Nil desperandum.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Wild pear

They look a bit like apples but these are wild pears beginning to ripen.  See how shiny the leaves are and with smooth, untoothed edges.

Friday, 12 August 2016


The aspen tree (Populus tremula) is a member of the poplar genus.

Our largest aspen trees are up near the memorial limes at post 3.  The leaves are almost round with scallops along the margin.  They have long leaf stalks (petioles), which are flattened laterally so that the leaves flutter in the lightest of breezes.  This has given rise to several stories and legends about the aspen having done something bad and being ashamed.

The aspen suckers in all directions.  Shoots grow up from the spreading roots so that where you have one tree you eventually get a grove of aspens.

Leaves on the suckering shoots are more pointed than on the main tree.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016


In flower now, one of my favourite summer flowers the Field Scabious, with about 50 distinct flowers clustered in each flower head.  It is also named 'Lady's Pin-cushion' or 'Pins-and-needles' because the stamens look like pins stuck into a pin cushion.

Before they open, the flower heads are like an ornate jacket button.   You can see some on the right of the top photograph.

In the past they were allegedly used by girls to see which suitor they should marry.  Each bud would be named after one of the boys and then they were watched to see which became the finest flower.  Hence the plant's other name, 'Batchelor's Buttons'. 

Probably as good as any other method !

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Monday, 1 August 2016

Thistles & Knapweed

We have two common species of thistle at Filnore:  the Spear Thistle (above), with its long pointed leaves and larger flowers with very spiky buds;

and the Creeping Thistle (below) which is slightly more common because it spreads by creeping underground as well as by seed.  They are pollinated by butterflies which love the flowers.

Close relations are the Knapweeds, which are not prickly at all but a great favourite with bumble bees and butterflies.

Bees also like the thistles of course.