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Botrychium lunaria in June in the New Forest 2021

Ashley & Jo Basil, Jurgie Schedler, Steve Munyard and myself, went back to check out the Botrychiums at Appleslade Bottom
We had a look in May but the plants seemed very small
Here are some of the larger, more handsome examples of Botrychium lunaria

We found 28 Botrychium lunaria plants in about 8 patches and around 5 patches of Ophioglossums containg too many plants to count
At this time of year the Ophioglossums look like Ophioglossum azoricum so I am totally confused as to what exact species they are, unless both Ophioglossum vulgatum and Ophioglossum azoricum are here and the Ophioglossum azoricum come up a bit later

These plants grow in a field which also has bracken. The bracken is now about 12 inches high but the fronds have not fully unfolded. However they make finding the little plants more dificult. This might explain why we found less Botrychiums than in May

Previous reports can be found here

Botrychium lunaria in May in the New Forest 2021

Ashley & Jo Basil, Jurgie Schedler and myself, went back to check out the Botrychiums at Appleslade Bottom

We found 45 Botrychium lunaria plants in about 10 patches and around 12 patches of Ophioglossums containg too many plants to count
In the past I thought we were seeing Ophioglossum azoricum but this year the plant I photographed looked like Ophioglossum vulgatum
I am basing this solely on the number of segments on the fertile spike (around 8 in azoricum and 12 or so in vulgatum)
I do not know if this is a reliable indicator
All of these plants were very small and we wondered if the recent cold nights had retarded their growth

Recording very small plants is very difficult so I experimented with using CDs put on the floor and trying to photograph them from the air using a Mavic Mini drone

I have digitally enhanced the CDs but I am not sure this is of much use
The day was overcast and perhaps they would have shown up better in bright sunshine
This recording method needs more thinking about

Previous reports can be found here

Polypodium to the Rescue

This spring I’m hoping that some Polypodiums will help me in some hard to plant up areas! In our rock banking there are numerous crevices between the stones that needed to be cemented to keep back the ever persisting erosion caused by sudden flooding as well  as a intense  water table causing some stones to slip. It works well to keep the erosion at bay but then these areas become barren with out much life. I don’t doubt that over time with some organic material that  would gather up some nice specimens may emerge, but I wanted to quicken this process, and a fern experiment is fun.

We have several old clumps of Polypodiums at Harlow Carr and one was infested with some persistent Symphytum which dominated its fronds. This gave me an opportunity to break it apart and divide out its rhizomes and showcase it another way. I just needed to be super careful to avoid planting back any Symphytum roots as they are so similar.

In the cemented crevice I actually first put a small layer of our grey clay here so the compost has something to attach onto. and gave the mix some weight.  I also used the clay here because I’m so close to the waters edge, during a storm the water levels rise and the flow can be intense , easily washing away anything not well rooted. The lack of drainage is a concern but over time its my hope that the Polypodiums will mature and catch more organic matter and crawl over the stones.  I could also make a bowl shape with the clay as well to hold the compost in a vertical crack.

It’s my hope these crevices ‘green up’ with ferns , especially some  lovely creeping and crawling Polypodiums!

Polypodium overtaken by Symphytum
Polypodium rhizome
Polypodium planting in cemented crevice
Planting with clay in cemented crevice
Compost ready crevice

Spring in Portsmouth 2021

I had a look in my polytunnel on the allotment on Sunday 12 April and noticed my Ophioglossum vulgatum was just coming up. Although not heated this is a rather protected environment, so I decide to check if I could find any plants at Hilsea. Here I found this patch

Also growing in the polytunnel is an Osmunda regalis, which I got from Portugal, along the river Duro. I am not sure if it comes up early because of its ancestry or because of being in the polytunnel. I have grown Microsorum diversifolium for many years both in the polytunnel and in my shade tunnels. It seems to prefer the polytunnel. This is the first time I have noticed it climbing off the ground

Snow and the Ferns at Harlow Carr

There have  been a few ferns that have stuck out at Harlow Carr recently amidst all the snow and freezing temperatures we have had. And even one that gives a more exotic feel in cold days, that being the Blechnum chilense! Also Woodwardia fimbriata has remained a great wintergreen addition in areas without much above ground.  These have both been great tough and beautiful ferns so far along the streamside this winter!

Blechnum in the Snow
Dense foliage of Blechnum in freezing temperatures
Woodwardia in the snow


Buriton January 2021

Today I went for my first serious walk in months around Buriton
This particular place is very good for Asplenium scolopendrium, which looks at its most spectacular when all the other vegetation around it has died down

Also in this area is one patch of Asplenium adiantum-nigrum. This fern is common growing in walls in Hampshire but is rare growing in the ground. It also looks its best in winter

Sowing Spores – the Munyard method

This post is about how I sow the spores I have received from the BPS Spore Exchange using a method decribed to me by Steve Munyard
To this end I bought 50 small square pots from ebay . They are rugged and microwave proof

I fill 20 of these with cheap compost from Wilkinsons and place them in a large propagator
I fill the propagator with water to about 1cm
I replace the lid and and leave for 24 hours for the compost to become fully wet

After 24 hours I put each pot singly into my (dirty) microwave and cook on full power for 2 minutes
I take the pot out and cover with cardboard and replace in the propagator
Again I replace the lid and leave for 24 hours to cool down

I sort out my spores and create labels using the Dymo label printer

The spore packets that arrive from the BPS are beautifully wrapped in aluminium foil
I unpack them carefully using a scalpel

Eventually you will find the spores inside

I keep the propagator in my conservatory and I take one pot, one at time, into the kitchen where I unwrap a spore package and place it carefully into the pot and then replace the cardboard and replace it in the propagator

Eventually the propgator has all 20 pots and the lid is replaced

Both the cardboard and the aluminium can be removed in 24-48 hours

Steve tells me that the only additional thing he does is to have artificial LED light on top of the propagator as this seems to speed things up. The lights are on for 10 to 12 hours a day
My propogator is in my conservatory which has quite a lot of light

Gametophytes and Sporophytes

This is a diagramatic representation of a fern gametophyte

This is a gametophyte of Asplenium ceterach

There are 3 young sporophytes growing on gametophytes

This is a gametophyte that has failed to germinate, it has grown quite large