Ancient Sweet Chestnut Tree Ancient Lime Tree
Exploring the wessex ridgeway
I travel along the Wessex ridgeway like a highway man flanked by a shrubbery of grey and pussy willow intermingled with old hazel coppice. The ash trees stretch up high above the shrubbery and in the fields ancient oak and lime have an indomitable presence.
A single shrunken, withered chestnut tree, a relic of noble splendour is hollowed out as a stately home to wildlife reminding me of the poem The Hollow Tree by John Claire:
How oft a summer shower hath started me
To seek for shelter in an hollow tree:
Old huge ash-dotterel wasted to a shell,
Whose vigorous head still grew and flourished well..
Wild angelica Sun spurge
I then enter the watery realms guarded by water pepper and angelica creates a canopy of its own.
In desolate places, where dark moisture breeds
The pipy hemlock to strange overgrowth
Then as I emerge from the mysteries only dark and moist places tell, I witness chenopodiums (goosefoots) and cardamines ( bittercresses) scattered in the fields whilst a lone sun spurge decorates the grass amongst white archangel.
Rosebay willowherb Shepherds purse
A purple haze of rosebay willowherb with shepherds purse educates the wanderer of past land management.
Fallen relics of brick arches, woodland tracks leading to pastures edged with melilot, redshank, mayweed and fumitory.
Spongy wet paths support brooklime and drier paths breed flowering chickweed, plantain and wild pansy.
I could be a marauding Viking or a settled Saxon as the timeless Wessex landscape unfolds before me.
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Poetry of flowers
Join me to explore the flora of the British Isles on this blog. My intention is to attempt to capture the unique quality and beauty of each species of flower, tree or shrub. For every species featured I will be growing many more wildflowers to celebrate the joy of their existence, their intrinsic conservation value and bewildering array of uses. For nearly 30 years I have noted, studied and explored wildflowers in the field much to the patience of the walker beside me. To share this passion is a heartfelt plea to respect, preserve and care for all British Wildflowers no matter how common they seem.