Saturday 28 August 2010

Agrostis capillaris - Common Bent

Common Bent  Agrostis capillaris

Grass of the Month - August

I chose to put Common Bent in August because it does not start to flower until well into July, so it fully out by August. Patches of ground that just have Common Bent can stand out in early summer - May, June and early July - because they are green and flowerless then, compared to surrounding areas with other grass flowers.

And where do you find Common Bent?

Common Bent ( Agrostis capillaris ) – small, delicate and inconspicuous - is one of the commonest grasses. Remember running barefoot on the garden lawn as a child? You were probably running on Common Bent, along with needle-leaved Red Fescue. It grows in nutrient poor lawns, acid grassland pastures, sandy soils and in heather moorland.

Heath Bedstraw, Tormentil,  Betony, and Bitter Vetchling are some of the prettier wildflowers that can be found on more interesting Common Bent grassland

Up at Winskill which is on limestone rock, Common Bent is only a very minor component of the limestone grassland, but it is the major plant in the hollows that are filled with loess (soil made from dust blown up from surrounding areas at the end of the last ice age)  - see below

The light green area with no purple Knapweed is an area with little else except Common Bent - this is where loess is deposited
Its inflorescence is like a spreading Christmas tree with many hundreds of tiny spikelets – tiny because each spikelet contains only one flower. Bents ( Agrostis ) have only one flower per spikelet, Meadow grasses ( Poas ) have several flowers per spikelet
The plants are small and so nondescript – no hairs, no big leaves, no stolons. The emerging leaf is rolled and hairless, and the short narrow 2mm-wide blades come away from the sheath at a wide angle. The ligule is very short. It grows in little tufts and these are linked by rhizomes, but you can't see these as they are underground.

Common Bent becomes much more exciting on metal ore spoil heaps such as at Pikedaw above Malham, where it is one of the very few higher plants that can tolerate the metal pollution. Since nothing much else will grow, a delightful pattern of small tufts arranged within bigger patches can be seen.

Bentham is a small  town ten miles from Settle.

Could Bentham mean land of Common Bent?

The word Bentham ( Benetain in the Doomsday book) comes from the word meaning rough grass or reeds.

So I like to think it could refer to Common Bent. However other grasses were once called bent – including. Purple Moor ( Molinia caerulea ) once known as White Bent which grows in abundance in white sheets on damp parts of Newby Moor and the moor south of Bentham.

I hope you found this useful - Why not come on a Grass Identification course? And have fun learning about grasses with other people. J.A.

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Eco-Congregation Award for Bradford Cathedral

This afternoon I am going to go to Bradford to see the Cathedral being presented with the Eco-Congregation Award, at 4pm

(And here, inserted later, is the picture I took of the presentation of the Award - with a demonstration solar panel in the background, and the east window of the cathedral  beyond that. It shows the Dean on the right)

Well done Bradford Cathedral! I will find out what things they have done to receive the award.

I will also email my friends in Churches together in Settle and District. It may encourage people here to do something.

At the Cathedral they are also going to have a talk/consultation about solar panels.

I will be interested to hear that.

Some people say that the real "pay back" time for solar photovoltaic  panels is so long   that we would be better off using our money for other things - (saving wildlife habitats, I of course suggest). But with the current government scheme, the payback time will only be about 15 years, after which the panels will be making money through selling electricity to the grid.

Ethical Consumer, quoting the Centre for Alternative Technology say:

A PV system mounted in the UK will probably have produced between 3 and 7 times as much energy as was required for its production

A fully installed grid-connected domestic PV system is likely to cost from £4000 to £8000 per KW rated capacity.. So a typical 2.5kW PV roof will cost around £15000.

Although the Feed in Tariffs (FiTs) are guaranteed for 25 years,The window of opportunity for the top FiTs - is due to end in less than 20 months, in March 2012. Most people are in danger of missing the boat again. You can only sign up for a FiT if the company you use to install them are approved by the government's Microgeneration Certification Scheme. therefore you can't claim it for a DIY scheme.


Tuesday 24 August 2010

Coffee Morning Results and Card Sales

We made £105-40 at the Coffee morning on 3rd April, including sale of cards. The church has a regular Tuesday morning Coffee Morning but on the first Tuesday of the month the proceeds are given to charity - this August it was for the Rainforest Fund

A big thank you to all who supported it. Several extra people came as a result of my local publicity. A big thank you to Lesley and others for making the scones and cakes.

The coffee morning spurred me on to make lots more cards - since then over the next three ordinary coffee mornings the card display has stayed up and we have sold another £20-00 worth of cards.

I sold cards when I was up at Malham Tarn Field Centre - £18 combined - from the Malham Tarn staff, From the Grasses and Sedges course and from the Acrylic painting course. Then I went up to give a talk on "Flowers of the Settle Carlisle line" to the "Settle Carlisle Line Course", and the tutor on that gave £10-00 for cards.

Thank you

Every bit helps!