Wells Voice Article October 2023

Photo : The Beechwood Sickener - Dan Harwood

Sycamore 'copters’, insects on the sedum heads, Pampas plumes in full sway, berries reddening and softening and wasps on the fallen fruit, all are signs that Autumn is coming through the garden gate. But above all else, take an early morning trip up the garden path and you are met with a face full of gossamer. Spiders, who have been seen nowhere throughout the year, mysteriously and defiantly erect their invisible barriers suspended spread-eagled across the path barring your way. We are told that they just launch themselves on a puff of breeze trailing a lifeline to construct the first anchor.

After that, it's a piece of cake to do the rest. And they do it over and over again. Quite brilliant but still puzzling and disconcerting, even though most of us have recovered our composure about spiders since we saw the creature in The Thief of Bagdad (1940) or came across its offspring in a Tolkien story. The life of arachnids is all very mysterious and goes on unbeknownst to us.

Another autumnal mystery is the emergence of fungi of all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some we call mushrooms because it seems friendlier but they are all fungi. And they are literally everywhere, by us, beneath us, over us, on and in us. There's no escape. I suspect that they are in league with the spiders. However, at our next meeting we shall be welcoming one of the most knowledgeable experts in the country to explain it all to us: Michael Jordan is not only a renowned mycologist, author of The Encyclopaedia of Fungi of Great Britain and Europe and has presented a Television series on fungi, he is also an excellent and entertaining speaker.

The title of his talk to the Gardening Club is The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. The date is Thursday 12th October 2023 at 7.30pm in the Town Hall . Everyone, whether garden owner or one who possesses just a plant on the windowsill, is very welcome. The talk is open to all. Members £1 Visitors £3 Under 16s free.

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The accompanying photo is of a fungus called The Beechwood Sickener. Which sounds like a case for Sherlock Holmes . Some fungi have intriguing names while others are downright unpronounceable . Come along and find out more . Pip.