Left to right - Dark Mullien - Striped Lychis moth
As I gaze at a single plant a unique habitat unfolds before me. My heart melts as I watch the shield bug as a nurturing mother guarding her newly hatched offspring of wingless nymphs, young woodlice explore the velvety leaves released from eggs carried in a tiny pouch of this delightful crustacean. The most exciting find is the caterpillar of the striped lychnis moth which is a nationally scarce priority species of the Downs where I work with a preference to this single plant which I am focusing upon - the dark mullein.
This is why nature exploration is endless as we can explore a single plant for a lifetime and then look outward to the key biomes of the world from tundra and boreal forest to rainforests and grasslands then move our focus to the specialised habitat of the chalk grassland and to a single species.
Left to right - Bramble flower - Agrimony - Wild carrot
Our July story continues with an abundance of flowering bramble which cuts and stings and yet provides the perfect feeding station for our winged beauties as noted by John Muir:
'Insect swarms are dancing in the sunbeams, burrowing in the ground, diving, swimming, a cloud of witnesses telling Nature's joy.'
John Muir spent his life celebrating nature and urging people to protect it, his attitude to all species surely needs to emulated:
'I always befriended animals and have said many a good word for them. Even to the least-loved mosquitoes I gave many a meal, and told them to go in peace.'
As I continue along the path I spot the distinctive spikes of the yellow flowers of the agrimony marking this time of year amongst the large white flower heads of the wild carrot with its hidden secret, just one small central dark red floret that produces nectar!
I enter a wetter habitat of the noble meadowsweet with her clusters of creamy white flowers against the striking purple flowers of marsh woundwort and clusters of gold flowers of the St John's wort.
I marvel at the joy of the tiny mauve flowers upon the hairy lobed leaves of vervain pictured below, a most useful herb as a relaxant and nerve tonic- nature's unfolding delights truly are marvellous.
Find out more and support the work of Walk with Trees (devoted to plants since 1998) by becoming a member:
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.