NZ1265 : Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) on ivy

taken 8 years ago, near to Heddon-on-The-Wall, Northumberland, Great Britain

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) on ivy
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) on ivy
On sunny days just now, an old wall in this location, covered with flowering ivy, is host to large numbers of feeding insects. Wasps and bees are here in huge numbers but also Red Admiral, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood butterflies enjoying a final feast before the onset of cooler weather. Getting a photo with one individual was straight forward, two easy but three quite difficult. This was a three photo but the central one flew away just as the shutter clicked!
Close up here NZ1265 : Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) on ivy
Ivy
There are two species of ivy now recognised in the British Isles, originally treated as sub-species: Common Ivy (Hedera helix) and Atlantic Ivy (Hedera hibernica). Ivy is a very common, woody, evergreen climber TG3130 : Ivy on beech - detail, a member of the mainly tropical family, Araliaceae, which includes Ginseng and the Rice Paper Plant.
The natural distribution of ivy is largely governed by its frost sensitivity as it characteristically flowers in late autumn and only successfully fruits in the absence of early heavy frosts. It provides an important late food-source for insects including bees SH4338 : Gwenyn ar Flodau Eiddew - Bees on Ivy Flowers. In the UK its flowering (and fruiting) appears to have moved further north possibly in response to climate warming SU0725 : Ivy Berries, Bishopstone. In parts of Australia and the USA introduced ivy is often considered as a pest.
The origin of the genus name, Hedera, is unknown but is possibly from the Celtic 'Hedra' meaning 'cord'. 'Helix' is a reference to its method of twinning around trees TQ0221 : Ivy's dilemma
The rarer Atlantic Ivy is confined to the western seaboard and can be differentiated from Common Ivy by its adpressed star-shaped hairs and its resinous smell. It has twice the chromosome number of the common species. A large leaved type is known as Irish Ivy.
Ivy changes with age from a juvenile form with trailing shoots and 5-pointed leaves J2558 : Tree and ivy, Hillsborough forest to a mature form with tree-like habit and oval, entire leaves SX9391 : Ivy Berries. When the switch is made to the mature form it cannot be changed back in cultivation. A large number of cultivated varieties differing in leaf shape and size, colour and plant habit are known TL4558 : Contrasting creepers, New Square.
The flowers on ivy are small and greenish-yellow, clustered together in compound umbels. 5 stamens and 5 stigmas are borne with a large flat nectary above a 5-chambered ovary while the undeveloped petals fall off early in flowering J3268 : Ivy flowers, Belfast. Large amounts of nectar and pollen attract insects for the purpose of cross-pollination. It provides an amazing food-source for many insects and is particularly valuable for those about to hibernate NZ1265 : Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) on ivy.
The fruit is a berry within which a 5-chambered ovary holds up to 10 seeds TR2154 : Ivy berries in a lay-by The seeds are often seen as small pink pearls after digestion by birds and are now much more commonly seen in the UK than previously. Pheasants and pigeons often use the berries as a food source in the spring.
The leaves are leathery and evergreen suiting the plants usual woodland edge habitat. The plant has a reputation of strangling trees TQ1255 : An Ivy-covered Oak Tree beside Common Road, Bookham Common and damaging walls S5959 : Ivy Clad Ruin although these effects are often controversial and may just be exploiting existing deterioration TG1617 : Tendrils of ivy.
It is a very successful climber holding fast to surfaces with adventitious roots along its trailing stems and can rapidly spread TM3252 : Three years of Ivy. Some plants can exceed 400 years in age TF6626 : The ruined church of St Felix.
In Roman and Medieval times, bundles of ivy (and holly SU2516 : Holly, Pipers Wait) were commonly used as a pub sign SO8171 : The Hollybush pub sign, 54 Mitton Street and the plant may have been used in brewing. Although the berries J5264 : Island Reagh, Strangford Lough (8) are mildly poisonous (a source of saponins that can damage red blood cells), the leaves are often considered to be beneficial to animals. Ivy wood was once used as a fake ivory for handles and as a sharpening stone in leather-working.
Ivy is well represented in Geograph photos; as a plant growing on ruins, walls and trees, common throughout the land in a wide variety of habitats. Its ubiquity and high regard has also resulted in its frequent application within building and place-names TQ3081 : The Ivy, West Street WC2.
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Close House
Close House was built in 1779 for the private use of the Bewicke family on the site of an earlier monastic house. The mansion and estate were sold in 1953 and bought for the sum of 13,190 by James Rutherford and Sons who sold it on to Kings College, later the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, in 1960 who had it refurbished in 1994 for 1,000,000.

The University sold the whole Estate to local business man Graham Wylie in 2004 and it reopened as a hotel and golf venue in 2005. LinkExternal link

In March 2014 it was reported that former computing millionaire, Graham Wylie, announced plans to convert Close House Hotel into a private home for his family. He is said to have invested an estimated 50m since buying it from Newcastle University 10 years ago. LinkExternal link
LinkExternal link

There is a brief history here LinkExternal link
Description of house: LinkExternal link
Descriptions of gardens: LinkExternal link
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NZ1265, 103 images   (more nearby )
Photographer
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Date Taken
Sunday, 4 October, 2009   (more nearby)
Submitted
Sunday, 4 October, 2009
Category
Butterfly   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NZ 126 659 [100m precision]
WGS84: 54:59.2737N 1:48.2213W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NZ 126 659
View Direction
Northwest (about 315 degrees)
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