Friday, September 24, 2010

Comma Butterfly/ Det Hvide C

Polygonia C-album

The Comma butterfly has a wing span of 44-50 mm. It is characterized by its serrated wings and the white C. The specimen that develops early June are light (form: hutchinsoni). It flies late June till late September, and after overwintering from March till June.

The Comma butterfly lives in glades, edges of woods, thicket, parks and gardens with stinging nettle, hor or or elm. It overwinters as grown butterfly among branches and leaves . The caterpillar's foderplants: nettle (Urtica) hop (Humulus) and elm (Ulmus).

The flight is quick as lightning. It seeks to various flowers and to overripe windfalls.

Before the 1990s it was rare and appeared in singles, but in periods more frequent. Since the beginning of the 1990s it is frequent in many places in Denmark , possibly influenced by immigrants from Sweden ,where the Comma butterfly is common.

Source: Michael Stoltze, Dagsommerfugle i Danmark, 1998.

See Comma Butterfly in England and other countries.

photo Mindeparken Århus, 25 September 2010: grethe bachmann

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mushrooms in September

September is the time for gathering mushrooms in Løvenholm forest.......

most of the mushrooms are not for dinner, only for good looks....
you might create a fine decoration upon moss

.... in the deep shadow of the forest........ at least I know
that the
fungis to the left is a Panter-cap (Amanita pantherina)

and here was a sweet little coal tit.....

further description is on blog Flora and Fauna if you like...........

The landscape with large fields is typical for an area with manors.......

... and here are two of them, Løvenholm and Gammel Estrup....
(Løvenholm, description in blog: Church and Manor in Denmark)

...a fine avenue at the manor and an old horse-box in the field.......

..a village house and a church.........

one of few old mills and the new Vestas windmills
in the late afternoon on the last stop back home.......

(click to enlarge small photos)

September in Løvenholm forest: grethe bachmann

Canoeing in September

The canoers come from the lake ...... the old power station they'll have to move the boats
across land down to the river Gudenå, not a long distance,
but the boats are heavy with luggage for the holiday.......

First boat...............

good team-work

hold on........... he fell, but I did not take a photo, I'm
not a paparazzi! they are soon ready for the next etape of
Tour de Gudenå

good companions, no yelling, just taking it easy.....

second boat off............
they are lucky, it's fine weather today...

last boat off, now he's got time to lit his pipe...............

Have a nice trip!
photos in September: grethe bachmann

Monday, September 20, 2010

Viper/ Adder/ Hugorm

Vipera berus

Viper, Gjerrild Nordstrand, Djursland
photo May 2008: stig bachmann nielsen
Naturplan Foto

The venomous viper species is widespread and can be found throughout most of Europe and all the way to Far East Asia. They are not regarded as highly dangerous; bites can be very painful but are seldom fatal. The viper is Scandinavia's only venomous reptile and is named hugorm. Averagely it is about 50-70 cm long. A 90 cm long viper was found in Sweden. The colour pattern varies, but most have some kind of zigzag dorsal pattern down the entire length of the body and tail.

In Denmark the viper is found in forest-moors and -meadows but is most frequent in heaths, dunes, dikes and other dry, sunny places. From 1900-1947 in average 70 persons were treated each year after a viper's bite, six children and one grown-up died. Before the serum injection became obligatory, the mortality death rate was 2,4 per mille. After 1925 it went down to 1,2 per mille.

Petroglyphs showing snakes are found in Denmark upon stones from Bjergagergård in East Jutland and upon Benzonhede at Djursland. From Bronze Age are bone-findings of viper/grass snake with other things in a leather purse. (Hvidegårdsfundet at Lyngby, North Zealand) - and in a bronze box from a woman's burial in Magleby at Frederikssund. They were probably used by magicians. A story about Harald Hardrade says that when he in 1061 was upon his ship in Limfjorden, he sent his men out to find a viper which had to show him where to find fresh water.

Before Gravlev Sø (lake) in Rebild Bakker dried out, it was commonly known that vipers lived in the bedstraw, but people were not scared, they said the vipers hurt no one if left in peace. The vipers crept into the house through cracks in the mud-built walls, and they were hiding in the heather bundles in the bottom of the boxbed, from where they showed up in spring when the bundles had to be renewed. When people built at house they had to put a viper in a pot together with special portion of food, cover the pot with a stone-lid and bury it in the house. In many old houses were found vipers buried under the doorstep by the entrance.

Heath, Mid Jutland,
photo 2008: grethe bachmann

There are several stories about vipers drinking milk together with children. Many children have told about their eating milk porridge together with a viper. Upon a farm in Brande Hede a viper came regularly during milking in summer to have a drop of milk. It had its own little bowl in the stable - and nearby the cats had their milk in another bowl, and no one bothered.

Bad luck and sickness were often put down to evil supernatural powers or creatures - and people looked for averting charms against the viper. Some recipes from the 1300s by Henrik Harpestreng told that the scent of violets, the smell of ambra and the smoke from burning mallows forced away the viper. People could buy burnt or dried viper at the pharmacy and used it against baldness, leprosy, boils, rheumatism, migraine and much more - a powder from sun-dried viper's skin was also good in milk or snaps.

A wise woman Maren Haaning from Vindblæs gave her patients crushed viper and tar and a man in Ejerslev at Mors earned a living in the 1870s by selling vipers to the pharmacy. A viper caught in 1902 in Villestrup Skov was sold to a woman who claimed that placed upon the breast it was an unfailing means against asthma. The farmers used it to help their livestock - but they also had some Scorpion-oil ready if their livestock got a viper's bite. In Jutland it was common practice to put a viper's skin or slough among the woolen clothes to protect them against moths.

It was sometimes a mix of medicine and magic. The viper powder was also used in love potions. People had various incantations against a viper's bite. If they rubbed their hands in garlic or washed them in horse-radish water, or if they wore some leaves from ash - then the viper could not bite them. On a farm at Borris in Jutland everyone had to eat a piece of dry bread from Christmas on Easter morning, then they were protected against viper bites all year. A very tough means was to place the viper's head upon the bite-wound, then the venom would be sucked up again!

A small viper, Skagen (the head is to the left! click to enlarge)
photo 2007: grethe bachmann

Some wise people were said to be able to "læse over" (read for) a viper in order to tie or untie it with magic formulas. A tied viper was harmless, it was not able to bite until a magic formula untied it. There is a large bunch of various old writings and material about the viper, and the superstition around this animal, which was considered a magic and mysterious creature both before and after in the Middle Ages, is so enormous that it is impossible to describe in a short article. The stories about the Viper's singing and the Viper King are interesting.

The Singing of the Vipers.
Some people said that vipers can sing. The guys on a farm in the heath east of Skørping in North Jutland told in the 1880s that vipers early in the morning stuck up their heads from the heather singing. Still as late as 1954 a man in Bjørnlund by Dronninglund, also in North Jutland, claimed that the viper can sing in the evening; he said that most people knew about this, both young and old people.

The Viper King.
It was said that every viper's den was ruled by a king. He was seldom seen, he was always surrounded by many subjects who were defending him, and when the group had a debate he stood on his tail. The Viper King is larger than other vipers, he might be white with a red ring around his neck, or all white or yellow, upon his head he wore a crown, and down his back was a long mane. He might also be transparent blue like glass with wings in the neck. The Viper King could like other vipers bite himself in the tail and then roll like a wheel faster than any horse, but only in the wheeltracks on the road, so it was possible to escape by running across the field.

A man digging peat in Store Vildmose found a kingdom several feet down with a white viper among a heap of common vipers.

Viper, Aqua Ferskvandscenter, Silkeborg
photo 2009: grethe bachmann

A small girl found a bundle of 14-15 snakes, one with a golden crown on his head. She put her white apron upon the ground close to the snakes, and shortly after the largest snake, the Viper King, crept forward and put his crown upon the apron. She took the crown and the king cried so loud that she became deaf. The crown was pure gold with many precious green stones and she sold it and got herself a fortune.

The snakes have a queen whose crown is pure gold , if you get hold of it then you'll become rich for the rest of your life, if you've got just a piece of it you can take piece after piece of gold, it grows out again.

Omens and Sayings:
If the vipers are out walking it will be rain.
If you killed a viper their king took revenge .
Dreams about vipers are a sign of wealth to come.
The owner of a white viper will be able to see the future.
The owner of the Viper King's crown becomes immortal.
Dead vipers must not be carried into the house. It means bad luck.
Vipers always go about two and two and help each other. They are able to attract a pidgeon just by staring at it.

Dyr og Vækster, Lademanns Naturfører
Naturguide Magasin
Natur og Miljø, Magasin
Skov og Natur
Folk og Fauna 1, 1985

The American Paint Horse

Lilly from Texas

Paint horse and a sweet little foal.

I have often seen those pretty two-coloured horses in the fields, and I called them Indian horse, remembering the old Westerns. In the movies they mostly belonged to the Indians AFAIK. But I think Little Joe in Bonanza had a horse in black and white. The proper name is Paint horse, and the race comes from USA. It is a pretty horse with a muscular body building and bright colours in black-white or brown-white, and the shape of the patterns is much varied.

The reason why I suddenly got interested right now was a wonderful story from Texas I've just read about a lovely Paint horse named Lilly and its friendship with its owner. I shall not tell you anything more about this, it has to be told to you by Jack Matthew himself in his blog Sage to Meadow, one of the blogs I follow.

January 2011: Lilly 1985-2011

The race Paint Horse has existed in Denmark since 1984, and there are registrated 50 new paints each year. In USA Paints is one of the fastest growing horse races in registration of foals.

photo Nordjylland, Lille Vildmose 2008: grethe bachmann

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Common Medlar/ Mispel

Mespilus germanica

Common Medlar, Botanical Gardens, Copenhagen

The Common Medlar is a large shrub or small tree, and the name of the fruit of this tree. Despite its Latin name, which means German or Germanic Medlar, it is indigenous to southwest Asia and also southeastern Europe, mostly the Black Sea coasts of modern Turkey. The common medlar was cultivated ab. 3000 years ago in the Caspian Sea Region. It was introduced to Greece around 700 BC and to Rome ab 200 BC. By the 17th and 18th century, however, it had been superseded by other fruits, and is very rarely cultivated today.

Common Medlar is one of the few fruit that becomes edible in winter, and an important tree for gardeners who wish to try to have fruit available all year round. There are several cultivars, which bears the largest fruit. Medlar can be grafted on to the rootstock of another species fx pear and apple. It thrives best in warm sun and mild winters. The five-petalled white flowers turn up in late spring, and the leaves turn a spectacular red in the fall. The reddish-brown fruit is a pome with wide-spreading sepals which makes the fruit look hollow. In the beginning the fruit is hard and acidic, but edible after frost or storage. The skin wrinkles and turns dark brown, and the inside reminds about apple sauce, both in flavour and consistency. In the medieval kitchen the fruit was used for jelly and marmelade.
Until recently, the Common Medlar was the only known species of medlar. However, in 1990 a new species was discovered in North America, now named Stern's Medlar (Mespilus canescens). The Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) is also related, and sometimes called the "Japanese Medlar".
In medicine common medlar was used as a means against diarrhoea and dysentery. The wood was used in the same way as pear wood for carved work , letter types, figures, fine furniture etc. - and furthermore the medlar wood gave good charcoal. The leaves and branches were used for tanning.

Botanical Gardens Copenhagen

photo september 2008: grethe bachmann

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Rose , a Rose Garden at Korselitze

Korselitze manor lies at the eastern coast of the island Falster. Korselitze is a Wendic name - here was a Wendic settlement in the 1100s and king Valdemar Atterdag had a castle at this place in 1231. The present main building was built in 1775, and the surroundings is the rest of an English countrygarden, established for the landlord by the English brothers Mansa . It was one of the first romantic countrygardens in Denmark. The immigrated English gardener J.L Mansa is considered the pioneer of the English garden style in Denmark. He later became a gardener at Fredensborg Castle. There is still a rose garden at Korselitze.

There is something magic about roses , a combination of connecting the rose to both beauty and love. In Greek mythology the rose was connected to the gods and their world, first of all to the goddess of love Afrodite and her son Eros , later to Venus and Amor in the Roman empire.
The rose was according to legend created in a divine wonder. When the love goddess Afrodite emerged from the sea, the sea-foam framing her body turned into the rose. The gods at the Olympus spread nectare upon the roses to create the scent - this was their perfume.

Afrodite's lover Adonis was killed by the war god Ares, and from his body grew up dark red roses. The dark red rose was during centuries considered a symbol of the life-giving blood. The Greek poet Sappho (700 B.C.) mentions in a famous poem the rose as queen of flowers, a description still valid. There are many legends about how the various roses achieved their colour.

The word "sub rosa" means under the rose. It origins from ancient feasts, where the custom was to hang a rose above the guest as a sign of confidentiality, if the host would not have the conversation reported elsewhere. In the Danish castles Frederiksborg slot and in Chr. 7.'s palace at Amalienborg was a hall named "The Rose". The court had their meals here, and their conversations must not be spread. They were confident talks "sub rosa". The use of the rose as a symbol of silence origins from the world of the gods. When Afrodite's son Amor wanted his exploits to be secret, he gave a rose to the god of silence, Harpocrates.

One of the earliest written sources about roses was found during excavation of the kings' graves in Ur, a city by the river Eufrat. Inscriptions upon burnt clay tablets told about the king Sargon 1., who from a war expedition towards the north brought vines, figs and rose-trees back to his country. In China are roses mentioned in the emporial gardens in Peking back to year 2700 B.C. Between these two centers were wide lands of mountains and deserts - and thousand of years passed by, before the Chinese roses met the European. The Chinese roses were very different from the European, and the meeting had a decisive importance to the story of the rose.

The earliest known picture of a rose is from the palace Knossos on Crete. The rose is seen on the famous frescoe "The Blue Bird"from 1600 B.C. But there are not many informations about rose-cultivation in the ancient past here or from Europe. The Greek historian Herodot describes that the rich king Midas brought the rose with him from Asia minor ab. 700 B.C., when he went to Macedonia. The rose he brought, was a rose with ab. 60 petals, maybe a rosa gallica. In Greece the rose became an essential part of the culture in the years 800-700 B.C.

In the Roman empire was a comprehensive cultivation and use of roses, the cultivation itself started in middle Italy around Paestum, where many plant schools had an intensive rose-production, probably of the Damascene rose. The rose followed the ruling class through history and was part of their way of life and world of symbolism. The wealthy Romans had roses in their gardens, the rose became a symbol of victory and celebrated the soldiers with garlands, when they came back to Rome. In the Roman temples the rose was used in worship of the gods, and many gods were honored with garlands and festoons.

The rose was also used in medicine, it was a part of dishes and used in cosmetics. In feasts were large numbers of roses used. It went so far that corn and orchards had to be cleared and replaced with roses to satisfy the need; in emperor Nero's time it was common in the years 54-68 to let rose petals fall down on the guests at the feast banquets; the later emperor Heliogabalus (218-1122) let so many rose petals fall down on the his guests that some were choked! Roses were imported from Egypt, where the roses bloomed two months earlier than in Italy, it meant a sailing trip of 6 weeks, where the roses were kept in large clay pots filled with chalk. The Romans were later able to produce early roses themselves, since cultivation in glasshouses became a common thing in the year after the birth of Christ.

Contemporary to the Roman empire's golden age the Chinese culture was strongly developing, in special during the Chou-dynasty (from 1122 till 249 B.C.). The famous philosopher Konfutze (551-479B.C.) informs that in the Chinese emperor's library were 600 books about roses. At that point China was already able to produce rose-oil , but only the richest people in the realm were allowed to use it.

After Christianity arrived, the church had the cultural power, and the Roman church denounced the rose as a heathen flower, since it was connected to the wild life of the rich Romans and was considered a symbol of vice and non-chastity. Centuries passed, before this view changed, but at last the church restored the rose to favour. The symbolism became adjusted to the church, and Afrodite's holy flower became Virgin Mary's flower. The white rose became the symbol of the virgin's chastity and the red rose a symbol of Christ's blood. The rose-motif achieved its place in the church-rooms, like the window-rosettes in the cathedrals of Reims and Chartres in France. Pope Leo 9. founded "The Golden Rose" in 1049 as a distinction for princes and great men of the church. The Golden Rose was shaped as a rose-branch with golden leaves. Upon the leaves were inserted small diamonds alike dew-drops and perfumed flowers. The Danish king Christian I achieved i 1473 this fine distinction from the pope.

Gradually the church opened its gates for the rose - the rosary prayers were established in the Catholic church, roses were plant in the kloster-gardens, cultivated and used for medicine. The roses spread with Christianity all over Europe. Crusaders brought in the same period new and older rose sorts home from Palestine. It seems that the Damascene rose came to Europe from the Holy Land for the second time in 1270. France adopted the rose; centers for rose cultivation arose in the cities Rouen and Provins. The name Provins-roses, used for the rosa gallica officinalis origins from that time. The rosa gallica was used for rose water, perfumes and scented pillows of dried roses. The rose came to England already in the Roman period, but the largest spread was in the 1100s, where English crusaders came back from distant skies.

A famous feud arose in the 1400s, a throne feud between the two royal houses York and Lancaster. The War of the Roses lasted from 1460 and 30 years ahead. Both royal houses had the rose in their emblems, the house of York the white albarose and the house of Lancaster the red Damascene rose. When the war ended, it is told that a gardener named Mieilles contributed to the reconciliation by crossing the white and the red rose; the result being a red-white striped albarose "York and Lancaster".

Another rose was implicated in English politics in the late 1600s; the white albarose Maxima. In 1688 started a political movement which wanted the Catholic line of the royal house Stuart back in power. The background was that James 2. of England had to take flight to France. Those in favour of getting back the Stuarts were named the Jakobins. They had a characteristic mark, a blue headgear and an emblem with a white albarose, the Jakobin rose. They lasted ab. 100 years without any political luck, but they have survived in folk songs, poetry, tales and in the albarose.

Princes, aristocrats and rich merchants started a fashion of collecting roses in the 1500s. Rosaries were established, where the rose species could be studied. The rose was also used in paintings by i.e. Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Boticelli and Brueghel. Rubens was a passionate lover of roses and often painted well-fed persons surrounded by heavy roses. A deliberate rose-processing began in Holland in the 1500-1600s. The Dutch gardeners started with the centifolia-rose and developed a number of species. When the Baroque period made its entry in the 1700s, the rose-fancy declined. It was not a good thing to have unruly rose branches emerging from the fine box trees. But in the 1700s the English country gardens became highest fashion, and the queen of flowers came back to the gardens as free bushes or as climbing roses.

Napoleon's Josephine established shortly after her crowning a magnificent rose garden at the castle Malmaison west of Paris. She gathered and got the roses from her diplomatic connections with other European countries. It is told that zar Alexander 1. visited her at Malmaison to ensure her his support, and it was said that she gave the zar a rose branch saying "Une souvenir de la Malmaison". These words were later used to name a rose in the memory of Josephine, the Bourbon rose "Souvenir de la Malmaison". She also took connection to the great flower painter of that time Pierre-Joseph Redoüte (1759-1840). He painted on her request a large number of Malmaison's roses, and those fine watercolours still exist and are re-printed.

Source: Mette Østergaard, Politikens Store Bog om Roser, Udgivet i samarbejde med Det Danske Haveselskab.

photo Korselitze 2007: grethe bachmann

Historic roses from the garden at Boller Castle,
East Jutland

photo Boller Slot 2008: grethe bachmann