Practical Ecology

Nature Switched On





in the Pyrenees  the first 10 years

floristic catalogue
faunistic catalogue
gallery 1: 2006-2012
gallery 2: 2012-
>> 2010 Nov 16
<< 2010 Oct  2

Fog engulfing the village.
The yellow turning leaves are from Celtis australis.
30 Oct 9:37

                         a   S T A M M E R  project              

2010 October 30 to November 6

Autumn is reaching its apogee with beautiful colours and foggy skies. Temperatures oscillate between 5 and 15C and there are still many sunny days.


The most striking however are the temperatures inside our strawbale garden house. They still don't practically get below 20C, night or day, without heating from the woodstove.

On sunny days we open the front door around noon and the sun manages to increase the inside temperature up to about 26C. Then it drops slowly to arrive at about 21C in the early morning. On cloudy days the latter will perhaps get as low as 18.5, thereafter slowly increasing again.


The explanation for these remarkable results has to be found in the heat production of our new refrigerator, together with the extreme isolation of the strawbale walls. (Last year we were without this fridge and we had to make use of the wood stove in October.)
The fact that a refrigerator can produce this heat relatively easily (outside) will perhaps be a result of the fact that it also produces cold (inside). The notoriously inefficient electric heat stoves don't have this compensating mechanism.  This might be interesting to confirm and investigate further.
The presence of human bodies seems also to have minor beneficial influence together with the better isolation of windows and door in comparison with last year.

Nevertheless, the sun has still been prominently present these days and temperatures have been relatively benign for this time of the year; little by little the soil and basement will get colder and this might all lead to quite different results in coming weeks.


Early morning fog in the neighbouring valleys.
Looking east.
1 Nov 8:50

The mountain tops are frequently covered with fresh snow in the morning.
1 Nov 8:55
  In the early morning.
Inside 21.4C, outside 6.4C.
The wood stove hasn't been lighted yet.
6 Nov 7:17


Climbing up the ladder for the regular inspection of the green roof offered no spectacular news but did offer nice views of the surrounding area, so here some impressions.








I wasn't so fond of the spontaneous invasion of Iris germanica on the roof, but have become to like it's pose, contrasting with the surrounding plants, and even the withering of its characteristic leaves.

From the roof looking south, with the green house at the back.
5 Nov 12:43
Dry flower stalks of Sedum sediforme, with numerous seedlings of Alyssum alyssoides
on the extreme right.
5 Nov 12:27


Looking east. The cereal fields have just been sown with barley.
5 Nov 12:46

Some Iris germanica plants among the spreading Sedum anglicum.
The red 'rail' is the recently painted roof rim.
5 Nov 12:33


Another example of an acquired taste are the withering leaves of Sparganium erectum in the superior pond. When the sun shines through them the effect is fascinating.

Red stalks of Lythrum salicaria, brown-orange Sparganium leaves and yellow-green Iris pseudacorus leaves.
30 Oct 9:46
Superior pond with Sparganium erectum on the left and Iris pseudacorus on the right.
1 Nov 8:25


In order to offer a different perspective on the zone I start here a new section, regularly updated and focused on the same limited area. I propose to get down on my knees. This usually opens up a completely different micro cosmos which I will try to capture with the macro setting of the camera.

The area I chose is the rockery near the entrance to the zone. This rockery was set up last April, using the debris left over from the foundation of the house. I added some left-over form the clay filtering (for the plastering of the walls) to the upper layer to help establish plant life but the soil is for the most part extremely rocky to a depth of about 40 cm. To further stimulate plant life, clippings of some Sedum species (S.album, S.sediforme, S.anglicum, S.acre, S.reflexum. S.telephium) and Sempervivum tectorum were planted. Already present and peeping anew through the debris are numerous dwarf shrubs of Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), in the north-west part of the area.
The pioneering stage of the area and the poor soil conditions offer a good start for the monitoring I propose. From now on human intervention will be as limited as possible but I don't exclude the possibility of some pruning of the nearby trees (Quercus faginea) which on the long run might produce too much shadow, neither the possibility of taking away or cutting some aggressive species. 


As usual, the emphasis will be on a graphical account of what happens in this area, with only brief comments and suggestions.


The rockery surrounded by Portuguese oaks (Quercus faginea) with the entrance on the right. The Prunus spinosa shrubs are at the back.
5 Nov 16:31
Seedlings of Malva neglecta on the right. Prunus spinosa with blue berries at the back.
5 Nov 16:55
After flowering Sedum sediforme often looks exhausted and  bound to disappear but then usually new sprouting appears at the foot of the flower stalks.
5 Nov 15:59




Sedum album with  seedlings of Malva neglecta and  the grass Bromus diandrus. It will be interesting to follow the development of the green moss.
5 Nov 16:04


Since planted with the other succulents in April, this Sempervivum tectorum has already formed three tillers (one can be seen).
5 Nov 16:49 



Sedum anglicum sticking to the ground with the barely distinguishable tentacles of Vicia peregrina.
5 Nov 16:20

Medicago minima and the intriguingly violet-coloured Fallopia convolvulus.
5 Nov 16:08
Not all of the planted clippings of Sedum telephium survived but this one probably will.
The seedling on the right is Sonchus oleraceus.
5 Nov 16:06
Two seedlings of Chenopodium album with Medicaga minima (left) and Plantago lanceolata (right). The acorns are from the Portuguese oaks.
5 Nov 16:12



The curious reproduction of Poa bulbosa with sprouting bulbs on the flower stalks.
Compare below.
5 Nov 17:18


The only flowering plant these days in the rockery: Erucastrum nasturtiifolium, which can be found flowering at almost any moment of the year in the zone.
5 Nov 16:29
The same Poa bulbosa from the image above, with the mother plant at the back.
5 Nov 15:56




The Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) is giving more signs of activity. Since its planting, almost 3 years ago, it hasn't grown much but now it started to flower after which I hope the strawberry-like fruits will appear.

  Flowering Arbutus unedo in the centre of the zone.
6 Nov 8:03

floristic catalogue
faunistic catalogue
gallery 1: 2006-2012
gallery 2: 2012-
>> 2010 Nov 16
<< 2010 Oct  2











Latest revision on:  01/08/2018