The garden is looking rather grim, with plants bashed down by rain and wind and most things well past their best. We’ve started tidying up and clearing, raking the leaves of the stipa and trying to remove crocosmia from everywhere (this isn’t possible, but at least it helps control it a bit). The greenhouse is full of logs and geraniums; the veg beds are only inhabited by kale and the windbreaks have come down. But one thing is flourishing in the meadow:
There are mushrooms everywhere.
We cut the meadow about six weeks ago, a little later than usual. I’ve had the odd mushroom before, but this year I am amazed by the quantity. I’m also a little bemused: why this year? Where did they come from? Why haven’t I seen anything like this before?
And what the heck are they?
There are, essentially, three different ones, and I’m not confident in my identification of any of them, so here goes. The first ones are those in the photo above, big and brown. I think these might be Brown Roll-Rims, Paxillus involutus, which I’ve had before – but only one or two. It’s difficult to tell as they are spending a lot of their time gleaming in the rain,
which makes them look almost as glossy as a conker. They are gilled, and the gills of the mature ones are dark russet – smaller ones are paler – and their stalks are also russet. I tried to do a spore print, but they were too wet. And they’re large – the older ones open out and then the biggest are about 15cm across. They’re tall as well, standing proud of the grass.
Then there are a lot of small whites:
which tend to form rings, rough rings, but they’re not Fairy Ring Champignons. I thought they might be baby Horse Mushrooms at first, but I’ve picked those before and these aren’t the same. They’ve not got much bigger, for one thing, and there’s no ring on the stems. Their gills are a pretty colour – um, mushroom, I guess:
Oh, and they’re definitely not yellow stainers. All the other mushrooms which they resemble are described as ‘rare’ and these are most definitely not. I’ve got shedloads.
The third type of mushrooms are more distinctive. These have very dark gills, almost black, and are also big and fat, much rounder than mystery mushroom #1 when young but not quite as big when fully mature. They’re not growing in the open meadow, but at the back of the garden near the wall and the log-chopping patch, under the Western Red Cedar, a viburnum and an ash.
The gills are dark, and are almost black by the time they reach this stage:
I did wonder about the Blackening Russula (Russula nigricans), but that mushroom ‘reddens when cut or broken’, and this does not. They’re not overgrown Shaggy Parasols, either. Or at least I don’t think they are.
So, ideas, anyone? I’ve been through all my mushroom books repeatedly; I’ve spent far too long on Google. I don’t want to eat them (probably just as well – I do have a few mushrooms I’ll happily and confidently forage, but I’m wary and like to be absolutely certain), but I’d love to know what they are.
And in the meanwhile, they continue to flourish. There is a distinct river effect – I try to create that occasionally with deliberate planting of things like Alchemilla mollis but it never works for me – which follows the dip of a long-covered and partly diverted stream. This isn’t flowing any more, and hasn’t for decades, but I imagine its old route is a bit damper than the rest of the meadow. You can see, here, the extent of the dip by the fact that the grass is longer where the mower has skimmed over the top. It’s not huge.
However, the mushrooms are in all sorts of other places as well. They are generally confined to the areas which are covered by grasses and wild flowers in the summer rather than the mown paths, but not exclusively, and they’re not associated with any particular trees, except for #3 which doesn’t seem to like the more open areas. Number 1 (above) adores them. And they are all confined to the meadow; they’re not in the other parts of the garden.
Now what I want is a similar display, but in April and of St George’s Mushrooms. The place I used to gather them in great big (free) basket loads has been ploughed up. Sigh.
Extra, extra: a couple of pics of the gills of 1 and 3, for ID. as you can see, the gills of 3 are only black when they’re really big and going over. Oops…