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What’s Blooming on our Wild Flower Patch? And, what is that strange black fly?

It is now nearly a month since the latest area at the top of the steps to Ross Avenue was sown with wild flower seeds by the 48th Cub Scouts of Dalgety Bay.

There are no flowers to be seen yet but quite a variety of seedlings are developing. Not all will survive and bloom, but the seedlings promise something colourful for later in the summer.

Meanwhile, on the area sown last year, more of the plants are now coming into flower; and we are beginning to see quite a diversity of species.

On the bank beside the solitary conifer, the seeds there were the last of those sown in spring 2014. Most did not come into flower that year because of the very dry summer, but they gathered strength over the winter and are now repaying our patience by beginning to provide some welcome colour at the bottom of the bank alongside the Lumsdaine Drive footpath. The Poppies are especially striking and it was good to see that this was also being appreciated by a visitor to Dalgety Bay who stopped to admire the flowers and take some photographs.

Poppies, along with the other “cornfield annuals”, Cornflower and Corn Marigold, are the first of the summer blooms, and while it is the poppies that predominate at the moment, there will be more of the others over time.

But the seed mixes that were sown last year also contained a range of biennials and perennials and many of these are going to flower this year.

Over by the wall next to the building plot we already have a colourful mix of Red and White Campion, and these should now provide a display of colour every year.

(These are different species, but they will readily hybridise.)

But not all the flowers that are evident at the moment have come from the seed mixes that were sown. There are patches of the bright yellow of Bird’s-foot-trefoil, especially where the grasses are shortest, and the intense purple of Welted Thistles can be seen beside the steps up to Ross Avenue. Both of these have germinated from seed that was in the soil “seed bank” before we started our work and created the opportunity for them to flourish.

Some of the other flowers from the existing seed bank are much less obvious and need a more careful search to find. We have two of the small flowered Crane’s-bills, Dove’s-foot and Cut-leaved, and these grow close to the ground so are best seen alongside the path up to the steps. There is evidence among the greenery of a larger and showier Crane’s-bill. This, the Meadow Crane’s-bill, was in the seed mix sown last year and they should flower later in the summer.

Some of the later flowerers are already getting ready to bloom. There are several Ox-eye Daisy plants scattered over the bank and on some of them the buds are just starting to open. And, judging by the different leaf types that can be seen, there will be more different species coming into flower as summer progresses. So look for future posts for a guide to what is to be seen.

And finally, on a different note, that black fly that always appears at this time of year and can annoy and worry some people. It is variously called May Fly, Hawthorn Fly or St Mark’s Fly because of the time of year at which it appears. Mostly you will see the males which, in still conditions (rather rare this year), will be flying in loose congregations, often near some prominent feature like a low growing bush, waiting for a female to visit the group. They have large eyes, as seen in the photograph, so they can spot and grab a mate if one comes along.

They are harmless to people, nectar feeders that do not bite or sting, and, being rather poor fliers, are readily taken as food by robins and starlings if they settle on the ground.

Once mated, the female will lay her eggs in the soil, and the larvae then spend a year feeding on decaying leaves and other dead vegetation, for they are an important part of nature’s recycling system.

So, they may be strange and seem to be everywhere at times, but they will do you no harm, they are just part of nature’s diversity.

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