Thursday, 23 July 2009

A Glimpse of the Mersey Valley 50 Years Ago - Hilda Broady's Journal

23rd July, 1959

It was over two weeks since I had visited the plot, and on this occasion the very long grass around the main Sycamore tree had been flattened down. The lower undergrowth was very brown, and though we have had many showers during the last week, the grass looked dry and brown.

I parted the reeds and tall grass now growing all over what I had hoped was the bed of a stream, and noticed moss growing at the sides. There were numerous spiders’ webs between the branches of the Sycamores growing low down near the ground. Flies were a nuisance as I tried to walk about the tall grass searching for new specimens. There were many bees visiting the willowherb, but I did not feel justified in taking any of them as specimens.

The Sycamores still appeared to be producing new leaves the stems of which were quite red. Bittersweet was still in flower. The reeds varied a great deal in height, some being six to seven feet high. As the grass was disturbed moths kept flying out from the undergrowth; these were mostly small and brown, but one cabbage white butterfly was seen.
Large patches of willowherb were still in flower, many of the plants were fruiting up to about half way up the stem. A specimen of willow herb was taken, showing flowers and fruit on the same stem. Some willowherb was over four feet high.

I was quite surprised to see just one snake weed [Bistort - Ed.] plant in flower. As the stem of the flower is so tall, the flower stood out clearly among all the low lying leaves.
The stream at the extended part of the plot contained a little water, which appeared very dirty and muddy. No specimen was taken as I have no microscope at home.

Goat weed [I’m not sure which plant Mrs Broady is referring to here; possibly Goatsbeard = Tragopogon pratensis? – Ed.] was in flower. A thistle was seen growing among the long grass. As I was not wearing gloves it was difficult to get a specimen, so I just took a couple of the leaves and flowers, without breaking the tough stem of the plant.

A tree to which I had previously paid little attention was seen to be covered yellow and red berries, the leaves being green and tipped with red. Specimens were taken for identification (Guelder Rose [= Viburnum opulus – Ed.]).

Bramble is in flower in parts, and is fruiting too. Shoots of bramble among the grass also make progress slow in moving about.

Posted by Dave Bishop, 23rd July 2009

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