Left to right - Field Scabious- Lady's bedstraw- Pyramidal orchid
The joy of plants as I walked off the path into the chalk meadow at Stanmer Nature Reserve. When I arrived I was greeted by a storm of dust as builders dug and drilled at the entrance and beyond. In haste I nearly ran into the woods but instead stopped and walked into what appeared a field of grass. Then the magic happened as between the grass I saw fully developed scabious plants like the gentry of the plant kingdom with large blueish-lilac flowers known as blue bonnets or bachelor's buttons. I literally jumped for joy at the sight of vibrant pyramidal orchids amongst a matt of yellow bedstraw. Marbled white butterflies flitted from flower to flower to complete the delightful scene.
I couldn't help ponder once more on John Muir's words as I walked just a little way from dusty, noisy human endeavour to the bliss of landscape :
All the wild world is beautiful, and it matters but little where we go, to highlands or lowlands, woods or plains, on the sea or land or down among the crystals of waves or high in a balloon in the sky; through all the climates, hot or cold, storms and calms, everywhere and always we are in God's eternal beauty and love. So universally true is this, the spot where we chance to be always seems the best.
Left to Right - Wild Carrot - Ribbed melilot- Restharrow- Agrimony
Stately wild carrot stood proud with slender agrimony and the bold displays of knapweed. The native peas included ribbed melilot, restharrow and some tufted vetch and the compact carpet of fragrant wild thyme weaved beneath them.
My guide switched from marble white to a red admiral butterfly as I entered the woods and although not ancient still exuded that sweet stillness erupting from the throbbing, pulsing activity of sap rising in trees characteristic of summer months. The corky bark of elm and the smooth bark of hornbeam reminded me I was in Sussex rather than Hampshire woods. On the wooded edge meadow cranesbill adequately competed with the grass sward and wood avens and herb robert grew in the shadier areas.
Out of the woods the flora changed to grey willows and vipers bugloss with a drift of ox-eye daisy followed by musk mallow, fleabane and bristly ox-tongue in more fertile grass-lands. As I run out of words to describe this nature reserve on the edge of a city I will leave you with one of my favourite plant poems which I have quoted in part before but here it is in its entirety:
O the prickly sow thistle that grew in the hollow of the Near Field
I used it as a high jump coming home in the evening -
A hurdle race over the puce blossoms of the sow thistles.
Am I late? Am I tired?
Is my heart sealed from the ravening passion that will eat it out
Till there is not one pure moment left?
O the greater fleabane that grew at the back of the potato pit:
I often trampled through it looking for rabbit burrows!
The burnet saxifrage was there in profusion
And the autumn gentian -
I knew them all by name before I knew their names.
We were in love before we were introduced.
Let me not moralise or have remorse, for these names
Purify a corner of my mind;
I jump over them and rub them with my hands,
And a free moment appears brand new and spacious
Where I may live beyond the reach of desire.
May Nature continue to inspire you wherever you happen to be!
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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.