Did you know that a feral hog is the same animal as the one shown at the county fair 4H show? It just needs a shave and little taming and it might be grand champion! The Latin name for the domestic hog, Sus scrofa is the same for the European wild boar or feral hog often associated with the dangerous, hairy, tusked beast pursued by hunters.
The issue of feral hogs in Kansas is not one that is in the news very often, good thing. The fact that agriculture damage from feral hogs still approaches $250,000 annually, from less than 1000 hogs statewide, bad thing.
Except for some isolated spots near the eastern and southern borders, and where illegal hunting operations release hogs, Kansas has done a good job of controlling the spread of feral swine in the state. However, it might be hard to convince a landowner experiencing damage from a group of hogs. It also might be hard to explain to someone who contracts an illness carried by feral swine.
Ask any Texas landowner about feral swine and you’re likely to get an even less friendly answer. Hogs have now invaded every county in Texas and the estimates I have read are upwards of $52 million annually to crops, native pastures and improved pastures. That estimate doesn’t include the damages that are now being inflicted upon lawns, flower beds and young trees by porkers invading urban landscapes. Only the sod growers are seeing benefit to this new habitat intrusion.
I recently heard one expert refer to feral swine as a weed with legs!
Kansas does not classify feral swine as wildlife or a game species, so hunting feral hogs for sport is illegal. That doesn’t mean landowners can’t kill hogs on their own property. They can even get free permits for others to shoot the hogs, they just can’t profit from it. The point is to discourage a hunting industry, prevent the intentional release of hogs for sport and limit the spread of feral swine.
Kansas is the only state with hogs that has taken this approach. In some respects it must be working because other states are now starting to adopt the same approach.
The United States Department of Agriculture has a group lined up to combat this species and its spread. These guys are trapping, snaring, aerial gunning and night shooting to assist landowners in eradicating these harmful hogs. But it takes more than just their program to really keep the pigs from spreading.
Enforcement of Kansas law against those who knowingly release hogs for profit is sorely lacking. Just a few of these operations are creating the majority of the problems. Local law enforcement, county attorneys and county commissions need to step up and assist in the enforcement of existing law.
Just because the penalties for violations are monetary fines, doesn’t mean local enforcement and prosecution should ignore the problem or pleas for help from adjoining landowners. Now is the time for local government officials to understand the property destruction, loss of tax-base and the health risks from the spread of feral swine.
Water is one of the ways that copper may enter our bodies. The drinking of chlorinated water has been proved to an increased chance of developing colon cancer. Therefore, you have to set up your hot water system carefully. The tankless water heaters are important part of the hot water system in our house. Like most things involved in owning and caring for a home, tankless water heaters have always been full of promise and they are actually a lot more complex than you might think, especially when they were replacing an existing conventional water heater.
If you’re considering making the switch to a tankless water heater or replacing your existing water heater, you should carefully weigh following problems
Installation Was Often Complicated and Costly
Installation is always a nightmare for homeowners even manufacturers haven’t given up on the technology on improving the designs to make it easier to install. From the Consumer Reports, a best small tankless water heater can cost $120-$350 for a unit and the installation can add $100-$200. While you will pay $800-$3,000 or more a central tankless water heater, and the total cost will be increased up to $1,000-$3,500, includes the installation. How to reduce the cost of installation? Unless you’re well experienced in this line that you can install the unit by yourself, it’s smart to choose branded manufacturer because their advanced technology should make retrofit installations easier and less cost.
Inconsistent water temperatures
This is another big bigger problem for house use. Tankless water heaters are designed for providing plenty of hot water as long as the flow is high enough. One of the main reasons why the tankless water heater can’t keep water temperatures due to the low water pressure. The low flow within your tankless unit results in shutting down the gas burner. The restriction in the hot water flow can cause inconsistent water temperatures as well because the mineral deposits block the shower head or faucet aerators. For the first situation, you should manually check the minimal required flow rate. The 2nd situation can be solved by cleaning every single of the unit.
Even the On-Demand water heaters come are more efficient than standard heaters as these innovations, but they are not for every family. For example, one of the most important aspects to be taken care of when it comes to tankless water heaters is exhaust venting. If the unit can’t send out the high density heat, it could cause the heater to breakdown. Regarding gas supply when you consider a tankless gas water heater. The same pressure and volume are important for heating water instantly by tankless water heaters. If you area doesn’t have natural gas supply because of the extremely cold incoming ground water or your new house has not set up propane supply, a tankless model might not for your needs.
People have used herbs for both their medicinal and culinary value. Herbs are very easy to grow with a little sunshine and soil, such as basil, chives and parsley. They can be used for cure colds, pimples, help you sleep and add tasty to dinner. You can have herbs close to kitchen and grown in pots. However, many herbs prefer to be in the ground like your yard or garden so where they can spread out.
I have tried growing more than 15 different herbs in my garden. Most of them varieties thrive outdoors in summer in all climates, some even can be grown all the year round. Sow them in spring and you will have a crop, and below are my 3 favorite herbs in the garden.
Rosemary is a fragrant evergreen herb native to the Mediterranean, which is one of the most common medicinal uses for improve memory. You can use it fresh or dried and nothing can beat the flavor when you add it to food. Additionally, rosemary has antibacterial and antioxidant rosmarinic acid, it was traditionally used to help improve blood circulation as well as boost the immune system. Rosemary is a good source of vitamin A that can help for your whole body health.
2. Aloe Vera
Location is the most important choice when you set up a garden. The Aloe vera plant, native to the Africa continent, has been used can be traced back 6,000 years to early Egypt. The Aloe Vera is known to heal a variety of conditions, include skin irritations, pimples [how to get rid of pimples with natural herbs], wounds, etc. The typical product would be aloe gel, abstract from the central part of the aloe leaf. Aloe Vera is about 95% water. And the Aloe juice is powerful laxative, which is most commonly used for minor cuts and burns.
Thyme herb is packed with numerous health benefits that has been well-used for centuries for a variety of purposes. Thyme is a wonderful addition to bean, egg and vegetable dishes. Thyme contains many active components that are widely used for preventing disease and improve health. Thymol, one of the most important essential oils in the world, which made from Thyme, that have found has carvacolo, geraniol and borneol. Thyme is effective against infections and protects the body from the effects of aging. It’s considered an excellent source of vitamin C too.
The Ferret section at Chatsworth is always enormously popular, with two lots of racing on friday and both Racing and Showing on the agenda saturday and sunday.
This years dates are the 4th,5th and 6th of September at the usual Chatsworth house site.
This year, due to the temperate climate (last years position being underwater) we have moved further down towards the fishermans row. so hopefully we shouldn’t need waders.
DSCF2403 The usual morning racing (Saturday and Sunday), scheduled for 11.00 am , and showing at 12 noon – 22 classes in all – followed by more racing, hopefully at about 3 o’clock including (on Saturday only) the dreaded “Coral’s frankie stakes” relay so do bring your ferret along to Chatsworth and have a go yourself.
This year too Chatsworth is pleased to host the BRITISH FERRET CLUB Champion of Champions on Sunday. See their website for more details of the Club, and ferrets in general.
Vitalin Ferret Food, sponsors of the British Ferret Club, are sponsering the event and providing Rosettes for the Champion of Champions.
Thanks also to the participants who brought their ferrets along last year, without who there would be no show.
We hope to see you all again this year at the same place.
Varicose veins also known as spider veins, are enlarged blood vessels that usually occur on the legs and foot. If you’re struggling with varicose veins, you’re not alone, about 60 percent of people have varicose veins, and up to 25 percent of women and up to 15 of men are affected, it’s one of the most common health condition in United States.
According to study from Phyllis Balch, varicose veins and spider veins are caused by one or a combination of different reasons, include pregnancy, standing or sitting for long hours, overweight, etc. And the truth is that no one is quite sure what cause varicose veins or spider veins. Varicose veins often occur when the vein is not functioning properly or lost their value that prevents blood from flowing backwards.
There is a wide range of treatments available for varicose veins. However, you should give herbs a chance before you try expensive varicose veins surgical measures first.
Horse Chestnut Extract
The book“Natural Health, Natural Medicine” strongly recommends the horse chestnut extract to get rid of varicose veins naturally. The reason why Dr. Weil, the author the book, emphasizes the value of horse chestnut because it contains a powerful compound called aescin, which is helpful for increasing circulation and strengthening the vein walls. Ask your doctor before applying horse chestnut extract as it may lead to itching and nausea.
Grapes are not only used to make good wine. Grape seed extract, also called Vitis vinifera is another great home remedy for varicose veins. It’s a natural oil rich in vitamin E, antioxidants, flavonoids and linoleic acid, they can help prevent free radical damage to the walls of the blood vessels. Additionally, grape seed extracts has been proved to relieve the pain and the swelling of venous insufficiency.
A study published in Arzneimittel-Forschung found that Butcher’s Broom extract has the anti-inflammatory and astringent properties that can be used for treating varicose veins. It’s helpful for relieving the aches and discomfort of varicose veins. The side effect of butcher’s broom is digestive complaints. Recommended daily dosage is 100 mg 3 times a day. And it’s not suitable for people who have high blood pressure.
Garlic is an age old herbal that has been used for many years. Garlic can break down the protein content in the body and distribute it evenly, which improves the circulation and eliminates toxins from the blood vessels. To use garlic for varicose veins is simple, just mix 5 garlic cloves and two tablespoons of olive oil in a jar with lid, then put juice of 3 oranges and 2 tablespoons olive oil as well. Leave it for 12 hours then you can apply it on your legs.
Pine Bark Extract
According to a new study published in International Journal of Angiology testifies that pine bark extract can significantly improves the appearance of varicose veins or spider vein. OPCs (Oligomeric proanthocyandin complexes) found in the pine bark has the ability to improve circulation and repair tissue in the body. Like the Butcher’s Broom oil, doctors suggests taking 100-120mg of pycnogenol three times a day for the problem. Because it may raise blood pressure, so ask your doctor before taking it.
When one thinks about hedgerows, protection generally comes to mind. That is, protection from nosy neighbors or from erosion or something to that extent. I submit to you now an unconventional story about how having a hedgerow actually offered a family protection from a drowsy driver who fell asleep at the wheel, almost crashing his car into the home of this family.
So, John decided, after reading about some of the ideas by which he could beautify his home garden, to construct a hedgerow. He used palm trees spaced every 3 feet apart and then filled in the rest with an assortment of different plants, giving the traditional English hedgerow the true tropical Florida look and feel associated with the foliage of our state. Well, John was really proud of his masterpiece, and even called it by a creative little nickname that I cannot fully remember at this moment. He never knew that his precious landscaping creation would save the lives of his two youngest daughters who shared a bedroom closest to the road, directly behind one portion of the barrier of palm trees, shrubbery, and vines.
Well, around 2:00 a.m. one autumn night/morning, John, his wife, and his children were awakened to a thunderous, deafening sound of a car crashing. This sounded like it was directly in their living room, so they looked outside to investigate. Sure enough, a car had crashed alright, but not into another car. It had ran right into John’s magnificent hedgerow at around 40 miles per hour. Now, John put quite a bit of work into his hedgerow, and it took several years of meticulous care to grow to the specifications to which he had grown it to. None of this mattered when he saw this accident, and how close the car came to plowing through his daughters’ bedroom. Had the hedgerow not been there, the car would’ve made its way directly through the walls of this bedroom, and would’ve struck his daughters directly where they slept. When John learned that the driver was not intoxicated, just tired, he decided to help him get his car out of the tangled web and change his tire, which had been flattened by some of the branches around the hedgerow’s base. He even loaned the man his hydraulic car jack to make the repair, and allowed him to leave without calling the police on him, just because he was so thankful that his daughters were not struck by this car.
This is a very unconventional method of protection that this hedgerow provided to John. Not only did it save his daughters from some very serious injuries, but it protected the exterior and interior of the family home from being ran through by this overworked and drowsy driver, who was not doing anything wrong, but was rather working a double-shift to provide for his own family. This is definitely a heartwarming story that highlights a unique protection offered by John’s palm tree hedgerow.
By the end of the 18th century, the roads in England where in a very bad state , pot holes and thick mud abounded.
Then with the introduction of new road construction methods by Telford and Macadam, it became no longer necessary to dodge pot holes and as consequence roads could become narrower. This over hall of the national road structure started in the early 19th century and gradually spread though the whole country. The excess space between the new road and the boundary, usually a hedge, that was no longer needed for pot hole dodging manoeuvres, became disused and colonised by plants, thus creating the verges that we know today.
In current times the verges have become an important part of the road network, ie;
- providing added visability to drivers at bends and junctions
- as places to park in an emergency
- as areas where road repair equipment and materials can be stored temporally
- as places for drains and soak aways to remove surface water
- as a means of providing structural support to the road surface
- providing a visual link between the road and its surroundings
- separation of pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders from the carriageways where larger vehicles travel
- acting as significant reservoirs of plants and animals – particularly in areas where hedges have been removed
- as wildlife corridors and a means of plants spreading from one area to another
The portion of the verge nearest the road edge is subject to constant disturbance ie;
Throwing up of mud and water in wet weather,
Pollution from salting and exhaust fumes
Further from the road the conditions are more stable and have a rich community of annual and perennial plants.
Verges: Sizes and Shapes:
The road network was only metalled from the early 19th Century onwards, the verges are comparatively younger than the hedges that standby them. In circa 1972 it was estimated that there were up to 0.415 ha of maintained land/km of road (1.65 acres/mile). Using the Department of Transport figures (1987) of 225,450km (140,100 miles) which would work out at approximately 93,560ha (231,190 acres) of managed land. To which we could then add a further 3645ha (9,000 acres) of banks, burns, tree plantations. This total of 97,200ha (240,000 acres) provides a vital and very large habitat area for plant and animal species.
The average verge width of areas of country is very difficult to work out due to the way that they vary from area to area and county to county as is evidenced below.
|County||Class of Road||Distance||Average Width of Verge|
|.||.||.||km . miles||cm . inches|
|A||Somerset||Trunk||188 . 117||188 . 75|
|.||.||A||655 . 407||130 . 52|
|.||.||B||473 . 294||123 . 49|
|.||.||C||2526 . 1569||108 . 43|
|.||.||Unclassified||3016 . 1873||98 . 49|
|B||Glamorgan||Trunk||98 . 61||98 . 39|
|.||.||A||1419 . 260||35 . 14|
|.||.||B||679 . 422||83 . 33|
|.||.||Unclassified||1014 . 630||60 . 24|
Width of verges by class of road in Somerset and Glamorgan. Class 1 roads a A category; Class 2 roads are B; Class 3 roads are Minor roads with 4.3m+ of metalling; Unclassified roads have < 4.3m metalling or untarred. Both counties are some what a typical in that the possess large numbers of low category roads with very narrow verges, however when you look at the average width of the trunk roads and A roads you will notice a massive difference. This difference may be partially explained by the fact that the roads in Glamorgan tend to pass through cuttings and valleys or are associated with industrial sites or residential areas. On verges that adjoin a hedgerow, than both these areas share a common number of herbaceous plants. Many of these plants provide food for a variety of birds, animals and insects, with the hedge providing shelter. However when the adjoining hedge is removed all that remains of this once virile source for the wildlife is the verge.
A Brief History of Hedgerows
Hedgerows are decorative lines of trees, shrubbery, and other small foliage that can serve many purposes, from a nice visual change in the ordinary wooden miter-saw-created fence used as a barrier to the landscaper’s ultimate dream of colorful separation. They can also be used where waterways of rainfall is a constant issue by combatting erosion, all the while serving the dual-purpose of allowing those planting them to use them as a source of food, so long as the farmers and planters included fruits trees with the rest of the colorful collage of creativity.
Now, it is important to keep in mind that these marvels of intertwining of nature and manmade machinations are nothing new. In fact, they date all the way back to medieval times, and were usually planted to enclose a field, pasture, or other feeding area to keep bovine livestock from getting away — even a sort of rudimentary fence. Of course, depending on what was grown in these hedgerows, the farmer could plant anything from useful herbs that could be included in certain traditional medical remedies. Their solid thickening layer of leaves and branches provided useful and practical shelter from the elements as well. For more detailed history about the history of this marvel of manmade landscaping, please read the informative Hedgerow History by Gerry Barnes and Tom Williamson (Windgather Press, 2006) .
A Living Fence
Hedgerows can be formed as creative means of marking the line of demarcation between two different properties. Simply put, they can create a living fence, or they can simply beautify an already-existing, wooden, miter-saw cut privacy fence by creating something that is much more pleasing on the eyes to look at. Imagine if you were to be able to bring the look of the “edge” of a forest into your backyard, simply by creating a duplication of what your ideal forest would look like. This can be done easily with a hedgerow, and this tip can be especially useful if your property sits against a field or meadow without any neighbors on the other side of your fabulous creation. For instance, think of creating a space about 15-20 feet wide comprised of different sizes trees, some providing shade, and some there for beautification only. All along the trees are smaller bushes and hedges, some of which may produce flowed and some may now. Now, in between this, imaging a strand of blackberries along with a cherry or walnut tree, and your space will also provide the functional nutrition benefit that was mentioned above. Inside of this personal creation, an attraction by birds and many colorful insects will also ensue. There are endless possibilities to what you can accomplish!
So, if you are a homeowner who would rather pick up the creative side of landscaping instead of just looking at the boring wood cut fence, consider putting that took to work carving some intricate wooden decorations by using a best miter saw to place along the borders of your very own hedgerow. These borders of foliage have a rich history and are being used more and more as sort of a revival to the old style of doing things. Consider putting the time and energy into something that will reward you with a great view, or add some fruit trees into the hedgerow for a product that keeps giving back to you over the years!
To make your wood working with your tool easier and more efficient when you create living fence, you would need a a really good miter saw stand as well.
Within the great phylum of vertebrate animals, mammals are distinguished by their young being nourished for some time after birth on milk from the mothers mammary glands. The possession of mammary glands gives rise to the name mammal.
Other characteristics are; Hair covering the body, jawbone consisting of only one bone on each side, other animals have more, middle ear bones are three in number where other animals have less, Occipital condyles, the joint between the head and vertebra consists of two rounded knobs as opposed to one in other animals except amphibians, a diaphragm separating the heart and lungs from the abdominal cavity, the largest part of the brain known as the fore brain being greatly enlarged and with this enlargement comes the development of intelligence. There is also an increased complexity in the cross connections or commissures between the left and right halves with the diagnostic feature being the presence of the corpora quadrigemina, in the mid brain, connected with the functions of sight and hearing, finally the main artery in mammals leaving the heart curves round on the left side to form the aortic arch, in birds it curves to the right and in other vertebrates one or more curves are present on both sides.
The class Mammalia is divided into 3 subclasses, one of which is extinct the other two are Prototheria (containing egg laying mammals or monotremata) and Theria.
The subclass Theria is then split again into two infraclass‘s consisting of Marsupialia (marsupials) and Placentalia (mammals that gestate with a placenta) which contains the vast majority of living mammals divided into 16 orders, of which only 8 are present in Britain and Ireland. The eight orders are; Insectivora, Chiroptera, Carnivora, Lagomorpha, Rodentia, Ungulata, Cetacea(whales) and primates represented by man.
Species composition of hedgerows and verges have an infinite variety where not only are no 2 the same, but they are different every 100 yards or sometimes every few yards. The situations they are found in vary almost as much. From a hedge between two fields of differing crops to riverside and canal hedges, from small road hedges and verges through to wide motorway bankings, railway embankments and narrow rock cuttings. With soil types of all kinds.
Added on to this, the management regimes can alter composition dramatically. i.e. regularly mown of grazed verges tend to favour finer leaved, shorter plants such as fescues ( Festuca spp) and common bent (Agrestis capillaris) as well as rosette species e.g. dandelion (Taraxacum officinale spp.), greater plantain (Plantago major) and creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens). Whereas the absence of this mowing or only mowing in autumn or winter, encourages coarser grasses and taller plants such as cocksfoot (Dactilis glomerata), Yorkshire fog (Holcus lanatus), meadow buttercup (Ranunculus acris) and large umbellifers such as cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) and hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium).
Besides these differences a few themes run throughout. Although not all hedges are on banks or have ditches and not all verges have hedges. Where ditches are present sometime they have running water, sometimes standing water used as a soak away or may even be dry ditches where the water only appears in heavy rain or runs underground.
Verges can often, depending on their size, be divided into 3 zones which can usually be very easily distinguished.
Found at the road edge and is usually no more than 6 inches (15cm) wide though occasionally can be larger, and is greatly influenced by pollution (usually saline, now that lead is not such a problem), compaction by pedestrians or vehicles and disturbance. As can be expected it has a characteristic flora and often include halophytes (salt tolerant plants).
The soil at some places has the equivalent saline level of a salt marsh, which has far to high a level of salt for most common grasses which will die out leaving bare patches, which are then in tern colonised by halophytic plants.
Also sodium is known to play an important part in flocculation of clay (the action of the small clay particles clumping together). Therefore improving the soil texture and crumb structure as well as aeration and drainage. However an excess of sodium causes the flocculation process to break down and once again the clay particles form a dense compacted and impermeable layer.
Typical species include; Greater plantain(Plantago major) , ribwort planatin (P. lanceolata) , pineapple mayweed (Chamomilla suaveolens), scented mayweed (Matricaria perforata), red bartsia (Odentites verna), creeping cinquefoil (Potentilla reptens), corn spurry (Spergula arvensis), daisy (Bellis perennis), annual meadow grass (Poa annua), perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne).
Most verges are now mown off at certain times of the year. Some are only mown in autumn which does not impact to dramatically, however the majority of ‘A’ and ‘B’ roads are now mown twice. Once in June or July and then again in the autumn. Except for motorways and some ‘A’ roads, this usually consists of a 1 metre strip along the roadside edge of the verge which is increased, for safety reasons, in width at corners and junctions for visability. These extra cuts can go back all the way to the hedge and are known as sight lines.
The action of this cut on the verge is described above and often overlaps in inner and outer zones.
The inner zone is not under as much pollution pressure as the outer zone, nor tends to be walked or driven over so its flora can grow unhindered. Its width varies considerably and is in some places absent altogether, due to mowing, where the whole verge is 1 metre or less in width. Where it is in place, it can vary from 1 or 2 metres to 20 to 30 metres in some cases, but generally speaking, the further from the road then the more stable the environment will be and the greater the variety of the slower growing flora.
With the exception of when it is very wide, the inner zones humidity, light and soil conditions tend to be dominated by the hedge. This zone has a generally undisturbed environment for the plants growing there (management aside). The plants that colonise these areas will also attempt to spread into the outer zone but rarely survive for long.
Dominant and common plants in this zones are; hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium), cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris), mugwort (Artimisia vulgaris), common knapweed (Centaurea nigra), thistle (Cirsium spp.), silverweed (Potentilla anserina), wild carrot (Daucus carota), hawkweeds (Hieracium spp.), common toad flax (Linaria vulgaris), birds foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), field forget-me-not (Myosotis arvensis), goatsbeard (Tragopogon pratensis), campions (Silene spp), white dead nettle (Lamium album), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), clover (Trifolum spp.), timothy (Phleum pratensis) and smooth meadow grass (Poa pratensis).
Ditches are absent as often as they are present, dependant on the soil type and drainage structure of the ground. When they do occur then it tends to be nearly always on one side. Ditches may vary in size from a shallow gully that is dry most of the year, through permanent water filled ditches that may be flowing or may be standing water, to large dykes commonly found in the eastern part of England which can measure tens of metres across and behave more like small rivers and have enough current to keep themselves relatively silt free.
With permanent standing water
The standing water ditch resembles an elongated pond, with a layer of mud at the bottom which may become short of oxygen and smell quite foul.
The following plants are commonly found growing on dryer parts of the ditch bottom although they are quite used to the wet and muddy conditions. These include fools water cress (Apium nodiflorum), marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria), brooklime (Veronica beccabunga), water forget-me-not (Mysotis scorpioides), water figwort (Scrophularia auriculata), watercress (Nasturtium officinale), water crowsfoot (Ranunculus aquatilis), starwort (Callitriche stagnalis) as well as duckweeds (Lemna spp.) which is the only one not to have roots in the soil but to be free floating.
The tendency for mud to accumulate in ponds, lakes and still water ditches, as plants die year after year and sink to the bottom, to rot and be broken down by the water borne invertebrates and bacteria, creates a situation where the water gets progressively shallower. The edges then dry out and cause the mud rooting plants to be replaced by more vigorously growing plants that share the dry ditch environment. This action is called Hydro sere, and if left unchecked will dry up the ditch completely. Where ditches are regularly cleaned out, however, this process is stopped.
Ditches which become dry in the summer but wet in autumn, spring and winter provide a very unstable environment for colonisation according to the vagaries of the weather and can go from dry hard ground to flowing flood sometimes in a matter of minutes in heavy rain and then back to dry ground again.
Very few plants, with the exception of horsetails, can survive these conditions and so end up rooting themselves on the firmer, dryer sides of the ditch but there are a few that manage to get a hold in the mud. Commonly found in these conditions are common comfrey (Symphytum officinale), which could even have a commercial interest due to its high protein content and is a food source of the scarlet tiger moth (Callimorpha dominula) which is one of the most striking of diurnal moths. Also found here are marsh woundwort (Stachys palustris), lesser burdock (Actius minor), hemp agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum), winter cress (Barbarea vulgaris), marsh thistle (Cirsium palustre), common horsetail (Equisetum arvense), great willow herb (Epilobium hirstutum), marsh bedstraw (Galium palustre), hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium), and common valerian (Valeriana officinalis).
With permanent running water
The flora of running ditches are basically river living plants whose evolution has created then to be rooted in the substratum, or on the surface of stones with floating and/or submerged leaves, such as river water crowsfoot, starwort, Canadian pond weed and willow moss (Fontinalis antipyretica). At the water edges, mud areas are found that give rise to mud rooting plants as above.
Hedges are sometimes planted on banks of earth, especially at roadsides. These banks can range in size from several metres, where a road passes through a cutting to less than a foot in flat areas. Where a ditch is present, then the effects of the bank are increased on the ditch side.
Like verges the larger banks can be divided into 2 zones. The distribution between these two zones varies greatly in size, whether north or south facing, and with the flora of the verge inner zone or ditch.
The Lower zone
The lower zone tends to be dominated by the humidity of the soil (which tends to be relatively high if adjacent to a ditch, or low if adjacent to a road that is well drained.), and the organic matter from previous years plants. Possibly the greatest influence however comes from the shading effect of the hedge plants above, especially on a North facing bank.
If the soil conditions of the lower zone are quite damp then this will favour mosses and ferns as colonising plants with lords and ladies ( Arum maculatum) , harts tongue fern (Asplenium scolopendrium) , black spleenwort (A. adiantum nigrum), male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas), polypody (Polypodium vulgare), cut leaved cranesbill (Geranium dissectum), herb robert (G. robertianum), marsh bedstraw (Galium palustre), red campion (Silene dioica), rough chervil (Chaerophyllum tementum), lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria), creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens), hedge woundwort (Stachys sylvatica), sweet violet (Viola odora), meadow fescue )Fuestuca pratensis), common st John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), primrose (Primula vulgaris), bluebell (Endimion non-scriptus) , dandelion (Taraxacum spp.) and herb bennet (Guem urbanum).
The Upper zone
On the whole the upper part of the bank is drier than the lower zone, courtesy of the root systems from the hedge above, which can have a selective effect on the flora growing there. The plants found here are pretty much the same as those found in the inner zones of verges with the exception of the greater stitchwort (Stellar holostea) which tends to be restricted to hedge banks as its habitat.
The shrub and tree zone
As it sounds this section comprises of mainly woody stemmed bushes along with mature trees and saplings which are sometimes incorporated into the hedge.
However also sharing the environment are the climbing and rambling plants such as herbaceous white byrony (Bryonia dioica), hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium), hop (Humulus lupulus), black byrony (Tamis communis), woody old mans beard (Clematis vitalba), ivy (Hedera helix), honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum), bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara) and brambles (Rubus spp.).
These plants root in the soil and then clamber or climb up through the hedge by means of either tendrils, like white byrony, which can be commonly seen on vetches and other pea family plants, or by twisting around the shrub stem as in bindweed.
Many species produce fruit which acts as an important source of food for birds and mice during the autumn and winter, complementing the berries found on the hedge plants themselves.
Common woody species found here are;
hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) and or midland thorn, hazel, elder, dogwood, blackthorn, privet, holly, spindle, wayfaring tree, guilder rose, dog rose, field rose and as trees; field maple, ash, oak, elm, sycamore, crab apple, wild cherry, damson, beech, whitebeam, willow, mountain ash, birch, and chestnut.