Guest contributor: Judith Passingham
A good thing to do in Rickmansworth, on a warm overcast Saturday afternoon, is to take a walk around the local Aquadrome. A series of flooded gravel pits thread along the Colne valley, with the River Colne itself on one side and the Grand Union canal on the other, spotted with attractively coloured barges and flanked by wooded areas and open fields. We walked along the valley, firstly dodging the rain, and then taking pleasure in the patterns it created in the water, and the droplets in the flowers, ignoring the entire lack of suitable rainwear.
In mid June the flora is an interesting combination of the first ‘flourish’ of Summer, and the evolving later Summer plants. Active tendrils of the Old Man’s Beard stems are starting to thread their way among the bushes, and there are numerous large clumps of blackberry blossom in evidence with white delicate petals, brownish yellow stamens. The first parsleys or umbellifers are seeding into green star shapes, whilst mid and later summer species are in development.
Around the various pools there are many flowers including several types of clover; white, yellow (of the trefoil variety) and purple (of red and zig zag types), purple vetches and comfreys of various hues, all populated by large bumble bees moving methodically from flower to flower.
There are many nettles growing up high to shoulder height between the trees and bushes, some with purple flowers- others with green crumbly tendrils between the nettle leaf bracts.Towards the Stockers lake area there is goats rues in whites and pale purples, red campions with their small pink flowers shining out of dark green, and light purple thistles populated by honey coloured bumble bees searching endlessly and systematically for pollen.
Some of the plants are covered with cuckoo spit – small green insects contained in gobbets of white foam, others have beetles and shield bugs. Tiny black beetles lodge amongst some of the pollens in the centre of white and pink wild roses.
Two Great Spotted Woodpeckers interact on the branch of a dead tree. A baby Garden Warbler emerges, dampish, after a heavy shower.