Monday, 8 June 2015

Poppies & Pimpernel

What did I do over the weekend?  I went shopping on Saturday and didn't manage to spot anything of interest apart from in the shops!  On Sunday I spent some time in the garden...signed up for The Big Butterfly Count which runs from 17 July to 9 August.  You can do this here if you live in the UK.  I did it last year and managed to see a few, but sadly I see fewer every year.  I remember as a child "cabbage whites" munching their way through the brassicas but now these are getting scarcer.  I can even remember being very young and seeing my last Large Tortoiseshell whose population crash was linked to their food plant the elm.

On a brighter note I spotted a red poppy (going over so I didn't photograph it) and one of my very favorite wild flowers, cow parsley:

Rather a blurry image due to the wind, and it doesn't even look much like cow parsley!  It is however, and this plant (aka Queen Anne's Lace) conjures up images of going on vacation as a child and stopping in laybys for a snack.  It is also getting more common due to it not getting eaten by farm animals as verges used to be or cut for hay but being trimmed by councils and the trimmings left in place.  These enrich the soil too much for most wild plants which prefer poor soil, and so a few robust large species flourish like this one which likes richer soil and is a member of the carrot family.  Do not grow it in your garden or it will take over, do not eat it as it is poisonous.  Another similar-looking plant (though not of the same family) is giant cow parsley aka giant hogweed which is a lot more poisonous even to the touch and looks like a huge version, growing up to at least 16'.  Another plant that looks attractive but not in your back yard!

Smaller and less obvious is scarlet pimpernel.  Another blurry photo due to the sea breezes:
I must try and get a better one but I keep getting very funny looks from people as I take my flower photos.  I could understand it if I was taking shots of manhole covers or bins but then it might look as if I worked for the council...oh well.  The flowers only open when the sun shines hence its old name "poor man's weatherglass".  There is also a rarer blue form which I have never seen, despite it being associated with south west England where I live.  It is not native to this country but very widespread these days and I cannot find out any creatures that pollinate it but it grows well on poor, light limey soils.  You can buy it to put in your own backyard wildflower meadow right here.

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