Saturday, 21 October 2017

Settle Coffee Morning for Green Christian Rainforest Fund:- Tue 5 Dec

Coffee Morning for Green Christian Rainforest Fund:- 10am-midday
This will be the Tenth Year!!.

See pictures of previous events:


Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Lambeth Palace and the Church Times Green Church Awards

Come with me to Lambeth Palace, London home of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It's 16th October 2017 and I and my friend Poppy are going to the Church Times Green Church Awards

Lambeth Palace is on the opposite side of the Thames to  Westminster and the Houses of Parliament. 

I am standing on Vauxhall Bridge, looking north, downstream, having taken the Victoria Line Tube to Vauxhall Station . You can see the wall of the gardens on the right.  

It is warm and sunny with clear skies at 10am.  Little do I know that by 2pm the sky will be orange brown with dust from the Sahara and from Portuguese fires brought by the remains of Storm Ophelia.

I came down by train via Lancaster yesterday evening and stayed at St Pancras Youth Hostel.

We enter through Morton's Tower and once inside the grounds have a view of the palace, past 500 year old fig trees on the left, with huge leaves. Ahead you can see the door of the palace.

(Judith) standing on the doorstop of the palace,
complete with rucksack and trainers. I (along with four others) had been shortlisted for the Green Champion award

Old fig trees

We have coffee and meet a host of guests.. I am pleased to recognise a good number of old friends

We assemble for the awards ceremony. I'll write about that later
I walk round the garden twice. - Once quickly with Brother Hugh (of Hilfield Friary) before the meal, and once leisurely afterwards, taking photographs.

There is a herb garden. We crush some leaves and smell them  -  musing over the possible names of the plants, along with a gentleman from Hymns Ancient & Modern.  Later I met Sabina the gardener who tell me their names. She is one of the three paid gardeners, but they also have 20 volunteers. They are trying to add plants that would have been cultivated here when the monks looked after the gardens long ago.  The garden at Lambeth Palace has been a private garden since the 12th century - and it's the oldest continuously cultivated garden in London...

Not Lavendar, not Curry plant - but Santolina.

This plant above with a strong smell when crushed is  Santolina (chamaecyparissus?) - Sometimes known as Cotton Lavender- from the Mediterranean. It is related to Chamomile.  It likes dry sandy soil . (From Wikipedia: "It is  a small  evergreen  shrub  growing  to  50 cm (20 in)  tall  and  broad.  Densely covered in narrow, aromatic, grey-green leaves, in summer it produces masses of yellow, button-like composite flower heads, held on slender stems above the foliage. The disc florets are tubular, and there are no ray florets.")

There is also a variety/species of Santolina with bright green leaves.

Below is "Curry Plant" Helichrysum italicum, another member of the Daisy family. and below that, Hyssop

Sabina shows me Hyssop  Hyssopus officianlis
It is used for many things - antiseptic - medicinal. It has blue flowers and is a member of the mint tribe, in the Labiate family.

The hyssop mentioned in the bible is much more likely to be the caper plant ezov   (or it could even be, possibly, wild marjoram)
As a non-Londoner I am intrigued by the fruit of the London Plane, Platanus acerifolia.

Wikipedia (Oct 2017) says:- The species was formed by hybridization in the 17th century after P. orientalis and P. occidentalis had been planted in proximity to one another. It is often claimed that the hybridization took place in Spain, but it could also have happened in Vauxhall Gardens  in London where John Tradescant the  Younger  discovered the tree in the mid-17th century.[4][5]
 P. orientalis: The native range is Eurasia from the Balkans to at least as far east as Iran, maybe even to the Himalayas
P. occidentalis - American Sycamore - in America. More about the three species here.

See history in London here  The leaves remove pollutants from the air.



It wouldn't be one of my web posts if I couldn't bring lichens in somehow.. 

I had to look VERY hard to find any on the trees - trunks or branches.  Below is some Phaeophyscia orbicularis on a maple trunk. Elsewhere I saw a little sad looking Xanthoria parietina  and a little Hyperphyscia adglutinata- All of these are lichens that grow where there is deposition of nitrogen compounds from the air. The car fumes in central London are concentrated.
Well they do say that 10,000 people die each year in London due to air pollution.. (much of it NO2 and diesel particles from the traffic). 
Actually it is on the twigs that we should start to hope to find more lichens  now that we are no longer producing smoke and sulphur dioxide from coal fires. - the bark of old trunks have absorbed so much soot and acid from sulphur dioxide in the past that it is difficult for young lichens to get going..
(There were also some lichens on the stone and cement work.)

Read more about lichens .. at  St James Park - just 6 days ago . less than 1km away, .. 1/2 mile away as the pigeon flies. 
And see the proposal to make London into a City National Park - 47% percent of London is actually green- though the map shows it is more in the suburbs than at the centre.

Phaeophyscia orbicularis (very tiny - it is an enlarged picture)

Wildlife:  Can you see the squirrel at the bottom right of the picture below, sitting up on its back legs?

Here it is with the picture enlarged

When I approach, it runs up the tree.

At the far end of the garden is a big, big hole.. Builders have been very busy digging. "Must be for a pond," Hugh and I knowledgeably decide. 

Totally wrong. We are not very observant. Sabina tells me later that there are plans to build a new library for the palace here - but first the archaeologists have been excavating.  They have found loom weights used for holding down the warp  when weaving.

Near the netting was this plant - 

Ah, at last, a presumably wild plant.. Certainly one that has been growing in this country for 1000s of years.  Black Nightshade  Solanum nigrum- It can be poisonous, but it also had medicinal and herbal uses.

Bee Hives

One plant benefitting from the strange orange light


Listen to 4 min clip of Bishop Nick Holtam on Radio 4 Sunday Worship 3 Sept 2017 that was based on The Garden at Lambeth Palace - "Reinventing Eden"

Oh yes, and the reason we're here..

Using the steps for our photo:-

Celebrating Care of Creation Activities .. on the steps of the Palace

It's the Church Times Green Church Awards Ceremony on 16 Oct 2017 with Bishop Nick Holtam of Salisbury in the centre

By highlighting some of the best projects, the paper hopes to set good examples before others who might be inspired to follow suit.
Short listed groups and winners - photo credit: KT Bruce / Church Times

Find out what the groups did at the Church Times

In the end they split the Green Champions Award between the five of us shortlisted people so we all won one. Thank You!!!!

 Here are Posts from other short listed and winning groups and people: (To be added to)
Seed of Hope -Taunton: mental health & gardening - green futures category

Steps to Greenness at Lambeth Palace Garden

16 October 2017  (This follows on from the main Lambeth Palace Garden Blog post)
(This post may get slightly extended. The Church Times, ten years after its first set of awards, had organised the Church Times Green Church Awards, and had invited the shortlisted church groups and people to the presentation ceremony at Lambeth Palace on 16 October. I had been shortlisted, along with four other people for the Green Champion award. There were also four other categories for church groups)

Step in

Step up

Step out - Steps for toads and other wildlife to leave the pond.

A single step - a swing..

Steps - under the orange sky of 16 October, as Storm Ophelia brings dust from the Sahara and from fires in Portugal across Britain... and it starts to get darker and darker...

Bishop Holtam's talk preceded the arrival of the orange clouds by two hours:- 
"Any particular storm cannot be blamed on human made global warming, but the increased incidence of intense weather events is almost certainly caused by human activity consuming fossil fuels laid down that took millions of years to lay down in the ground .. to release energy into a finely balanced environment that has supported and sustained our lives."

Houses of Parliament in the distance.

Steps for mounting your horse.

Step to leave

Oh yes, and the reason we're here..

Using the steps for our photo:-

Celebrating Care of Creation Activities .. on the steps of the Palace

It's the Church Times Green Church Awards Ceremony 
on 16 Oct 2017 
with Bishop Nick Holtam of Salisbury in the centre
Short listed groups and winners - photo credit: KT Bruce / Church Times
Find out what the groups did at the Church Times

  See my much longer blogpost on Lambeth Garden

Saturday, 14 October 2017

St James Park London and Environment Issues Network

St James Park - home of geese, algae lichens and more..

On 10 October I went to London (via Giggleswick and Lancaster train) for the Environmental Issues Network meeting of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, which was held at Church House, Westminster.

Arriving 1 hour early, I asked the doorman for a suggestion of where to go for an hour.. He said "Go and see the Queens Swans in St James Park".

So ignoring Westminster Abbey and Methodist Central Hall and the Houses of Parliament, I trotted off to St James Park - which was indeed only 5 minutes away. I passed troupes of Japanese tourists - their guides holding a post high with a flag on it (reminded me of Venice many years ago)

It was a much more relaxing and refreshing way of spending 40 minutes than "doing historic buildings".

Greylag geese

 Assorted ducks. 
And graceful grey squirrels. - how wonderfully they unfold their tails
It was great to see them all so close up. Sadly (or maybe fortunately) I had left my sandwiches at Church House - but even  to opening my bag on the ground  pretending  to get food would draw some of the animals.

I looked at the trunks of several trees  - nearly all London Plane, and also a Lime tree

I found Phaeophyscia orbicularis (the grey one below - it has rhizine underneath, so is held slightly away fro the bark.) , Hyperphyscia adglutinata (the greener one - firmly stuck to the tree) a tiny bit of Xanthoria parietina, and lots of alga

The Phaeophyscia is very common over most of UK, but the Hyperphyscia (form this map below from the NBN Altas) Is more of a southern species but is working its way north.

 Hyperphyscia adglutinata from the NBN Atlas

Books say that both species grow where there is a lot of dust. 

I did not find Lecanora conizoides .

 Paper on Lichen and bryophyte distribution on oak in London in relation to air pollution and bark acidity

More links: lichen-lins1

There were good views from the bridge:-

Towards Buckingham Palace

A Greylag Goose

Ladybird Larva

Horse guards parade

Friday, 13 October 2017

Lichens at Lofthouse - Report of the Moorland Festival Workshop

Fourteen of us including myself met on Sunday 8th October 2017 at Lofthouse Village Hall for the Beginners Lichens Day as part of the Upper Nidderdale Moorland Festival

First we examined the crustose lichens on the walls outside the hall
Candelariella vitellina : This is the yellow lichen on the acid sandstone

In some places, another yellow lichen:- Caloplaca citrina.. 
It was growing on mortar or where water had run over the mortar and then deposited limey material

Here I am sitting in the foreground testing the yellow lichen with KOH - Ah it goes crimson - It must be the Caloplaca.
Ah this one has also turned red - It must be some more Caloplaca

This is Acarosproa fuscata. The thallus is thin  on the capstone of the relatively new wall outside the hall. Later we found it growing half a cm thick  looking like deposited mud on the gritstone wall  on the road up out of the village.(That wall is over 200 years old) 

Porpidia tuberculosa

Here is the Porpidia close up.  The black line round the very edge is called the prothallus. The thallus (main body of the lichen) is arranged in areoles (tiny islands)  with cracks in between. The blue grey marks are soralia - patches where the white skin (cortex) of the fungus allows the contents below to come out - powder made of fungal threads and algae.

We spent time in the hall looking at pictures on a screen and learning these names of parts of a lichen. Then keen not to loose the sunshine, we set off up all of 200m,  up the hill outside the village.. carrying our lovely sandwich lunch that the festival had provided.

Lunch with a view up to Middlesmoor - Later we looked at the trees on the left.

Lunch was relaxing. There were no lichens whatsoever amongst the grass of the grassland - though we did find three waxcap fungi (Hygrocybe punicea, nivalis and a yellow one)  and a Liberty-cap

After lunch we examined the lichen of the trees and the wall

 he green filamentous alga is called Klebsormidium crenulatum.  The darker brown areas - looking a bit like deposited mud are the lichen Acarospora fuscata.  Both grow well where there is lots of reactive nitrogen

Yes there is a farm nearby - but you get this Klebsormidium growing on the wall right to the very tops of these hills.

Acarospora fuscata

And below we have Parmelia saxatilis - called  Crottle or Stony Rag in English

 One person found some Stereocaulon vesuvianum. and we found several species of  Cladonia and

and looked briefly at the welcome to Lofthouse sign 

where there was more Candelariella vitellina  (yellow remember?) and some Rhizocarpon reductum with the fruiting bodies growing in concentric circles 

Then it was back to the village hall

Ah - but we had kept some of the Provisions for tea..

The participants stick some of the larger specimens to their charts with Copydex, and I show them Frank Dobson's book.


  1.  post about the exploratory day I made for this trip here - with more pictures of lichens
  2. The provisional programme
  3. More posts on lichens in this blog
  4. Read a good article about Lofthouse here- The village that was nearly flattened
  5. and make sure you call in for delicious ice-cream made on the farm here, at the foot of the Cote de Lofthouse:
    Meadowdale Icecream Facebookpage

Mint Meadowdale Ice-cream is a different green
to Rhizocarpon geographicum
 See if you can spot this yellow green Rhizocarpon geographicum - (Map Lichen)  to the top right of the plaque.