Friday, 8 July 2011

Looking for Early Heather

Bell Heather - Erica cinerea


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.

Wood sage.....


Heath bedstraw.....



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.


14 comments:

ChrisJ said...

What a beautiful walk. So glad you know the names of all the wild flowers. I recognized most of them. Poor old dog looks as if he could use a dip in one of those ponds. I would love to be able to see the miles and miles of heather on the Yorkshire Moors one more time.

Jennifer Tetlow said...

That's amazing, all the heather out - ours here has not yet appeared, I was out yesterday and nothing in sight. Lovely flower walk.

Edward said...

I don’t know a lot about plants, but by following your blog I may yet learn a thing or two, very nice post, love the shot from the top of the hill.
Regards
Edward

persiflage said...

How lovely your country is, and your photos are very beautiful. I am always amazed by the photos posted on blogs, as I find it difficult to photograph plants.
Thanks for visiting my blog. I am glad we have many interests in common.

WOL said...

I had no idea there were different kinds of heather, but now that I think about it, why wouldn't there be? Lovely flowers.

Bovey Belle said...

What a lovely walk, and I enjoyed the wild flowers and the first of the Ericas. The wild flowers were lovely driving home across Somerset on Wednesday - if only I could have taken photos.

Rowan said...

What a lovely walk and so full of interest. A couple of weeks ago when I was driving over the Snake Pass one part of the moors was a stunning sight absolutely covered with a strong pink heather - it's peaty and wet up there but I think it was bell heather that we saw.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Lovely photos, particularly as your wild flowers are so very different from ours. The heather is nowhere near out up here but when it does come you have to be quick, as it lasts such a short time.

Angie said...

Thanks for letting me walk with you ...I love heather and it is best in the wild.

Tina said...

Lovely walk indeed! And beautiful pictures. Good for me to learn the English names for some plants that are common here, too. Love the close-up of your Old Dog - such a cute face telling from a happy life.

Crafty Green Poet said...

lovely heathers, they really do brighten up the moors....

Isabelle said...

I'm deeply impressed by your knowledge of wild flowers. I used to know more than I do now - when I was a Guide. But that was some time ago.

"Pudged"? Never heard that word!

Dartford Warbler said...

Learning the common wild flower names is something that came from childhood, I think. The flowers in the lanes around home were pointed out whenever we went for a walk. I have moved around the country quite a lot and it has been interesting to learn the various flowers in different soils and habitats. I do sometimes miss the beautiful flowers that grow on chalk and limestone.

Isabelle - I`m not sure where "pudged" comes from, although John Clare talks about the water pudge that Trotty Wagtail waddled in. I`m sure I have heard it as a verb but maybe I have made it up...?!

My OH is a Yorkshireman and our sandy moorland in the New Forest is some compensation for not living near the Yorkshire moors.

Chris J - I hope you do make it back to Yorkshire again. It is obviously still your beloved childhood home.

Morning's Minion said...

Like others who have commented, I enjoy comparing your wildflowers with the ones I know. When we moved to the interior west it ws interesting to see that slightly different variants of some familiar flowers grew in the mountains of Wyoming--all blooming hastily at once rather than in the measured way I was familiar with.
Bog asphodel is new to me.
When I gardened in Vermont I coveted heather--White Flower Farms' catalog listed several varieties but I beleive I concluded that our very acidic soil wouldn't support it.
The patience and loyalty of an old dog is such a steady thing.