Thursday, June 2, 2011

So Pretty - and more Interesting than pretty!

I felt I neded a breathe of fresh air to blow the cobwebs away this morning so I had a wander around the village, with, of course, my camera in hand. The wild flowers are mostly over now, but the recent rain has kept them going a little longer than usual. I found this interesting set of flowers. They were all growing wild, all have the same shaped flowers, yet all are distinct varieties, as can be seen by their very different leaves.

These first ones are very small, no bigger across than a fifty pence piece. They are the closest to our white English bindweed (certainly their leaf is), and probably they are just as pernicious, but they are so pretty. If they chose to climb up my fence, I wouldn't stop them. They are purely a climber. These ones were racing up a chain-link fence.

The second ones are very common around here, and they are only a little bit bigger than the striped one above. They are a ground cover plant and in April and May they are smothered in flowers. I have seen them growing from roadsides to beaches, and everywhere else between. There are lots running down the bank to the green zone behind us.

This is a new variety that I
haven't seen near here before. The flowers are a beautiful shade of lilac, changing to deep purple in the centre. The flowers are much larger than the others, and the plant not only sends runners all over the ground, but it also climbs up the fence. The leaves reminded me of the passion flower plant. These were growing at the top of the village on the sandy banks along the newly constructed road. I brought a small stem home with me to see if it will send roots down from a leaf joint.

And lastly, of course, I couldn't leave out the magnificent morning glory. This plant grows up the fence of an orange grove just over the road from us. The flowers look almost as though they have a light shining out of their centres. Although it is wild, and goes untended all year, I have been unable to root any of it yet, but I keep trying. Maybe I'm trying too hard. They seem to thrive on neglect!

So, aren't they a beau
tiful quartet?

And now for the not quite so pretty, but to me at least, equally interesting:-

My little tabby cat Luna seems to delight in foraging for 'different' creatures to bring in and show me. She is a great hunter, and right now the large grasshoppers are copious in the green zone at the back. She knows if I see her with one I will rescue it, but she still brings in several every day. I am not quick enough to save them all so I find various dismembered bodies and stray legs lying about all over the place! But when I went into the hall yesterday afternoon, I found Luna and Baggins sitting watching this strange creature. (Baggins is too lazy to hunt for his own, but he's always up for a game with any that Luna has caught). It was unharmed so I took it outside and had a good look at it. I was pretty sure it was a type of grass hopper but it was very different from the common one we usually see. It had a long neck, short flat antennae and a brown stripe along its side. What fantastic camouflage for life among the grasses. I had trouble finding it on the internet at first, but eventually I identified it as a Long-headed grass hopper, which seems to be more at home in S. America than here in Spain. This was all I could find out about it: “Identified by its green colour with brown stripes on its head, the long-headed grasshopper gets its name because of its long head which has short and flat antennae. It has long hind legs as well. When disturbed, the Long Headed Grasshopper opens its wings, makes a noise and shows its pinkish-red abdomen. They feed on blades of grass, are slow moving and are poor flyers. This grasshopper depends on camouflage to avoid predators".

With a write up like that the poor creature doesn't stand much chance against a naturally predatory cat who can move like grease lightening when she wants to! Still I am enjoying learning about who I share my little bit of the world with.

And while on the
subject of grasshoppers, some of the common ones I have been rescuing have given birth to a host of babies! I started to find them on a plant near the front door. Last week they were bright green and the size of ants, but now they are brown, and already they have grown. I put my thumb next to this one so you could see its size. It is rather cute, but we can't allow too many to stay around in the garden or we will have no plants left!
And finally, here is a plant that I bought as a cutting from my friend's garden, at her table top sale a couple of months ago. It was a tall spindley little thing, but it is a lovely plant now. It has this very pretty pink flower, but now new plants are coming out of the flower head. I am not sure yet whether these will continue to grow where they are, fall off and root as new plants, or whether I need to cut them down, but for now they look good just as they are. Here is the whole plant growing behind some others which another friend gave me as cuttings at the same time. I thought she might like to see how well they are growing.

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