A River of Stones
A spreading haze of heather, silver-pink, drifts down a gentle hill slope in grey afternoon light.
When the wind dropped, Old Dog and I walked around the village edge to a place where early heathers grow. It is too soon for the sight of ling, the common heather, turning the heathland purple for as far as the eye can see. Now is the time for smaller clumps of stronger, red purple Bell Heather to appear on the moorland edge.
Lovelier still, is the softer, grey leafed Cross Leaved Heath, Erica tetralix. Known also as the Bog Heath, this plant grows well on wet heath and boggy areas. In the New Forest, sandy , gravelly soil is dominant, but patches of underlying clay create areas of bog and marshland where Bog Heath thrives in mid summer. The flowers are small, pale rounded bells in clumps at the top of straggly , downy-leaved stems.
Swathes of Bog Heath drifting down towards bog land in a valley bottom.
Sometimes, we found a clump of white flowered bells among the mass of pink.
A few stems of cotton grass grew in wetter marsh.
A clay pool, where cattle have pudged their hoofprints in a search for water..........
....and a natural dew pond , where hoof prints of drinking ponies mark the sandy edge.
Further into the marsh, Bog Asphodel gleamed its deep yellow, poisonous flowers.
Leaves of new ling beginning to grow through grass and the branches of burned gorse......
Ragwort in the shelter of brambles on the heathland edge.
Across the far distance, towards the coast and the misty Purbeck Hills, common heather was yet to flower among the gorse.
We climbed up the hill. It was steep enough to make an old dog puff and blow, so we rested at the top and I found different flowers at the edge of the wood.
and purple Selfheal.
Old Dog waited patiently.
Milkweed was in flower by bracken and bramble........
....and then it was time to stand up among the daisies and follow the shaded lane towards home.