Thursday, 28 July 2011

Wild Flowers of the Fields

At this time in the summer, there are areas of grassland that are not being grazed. Sometimes a small field is allowed to rest until autumn. In the bigger meadow, we did not spray the buttercups this year. Nowadays, I hate to see the spraying of old pastures with herbicide of any kind. As the buttercups finish flowering, they gradually die back and grasses and other flowers begin to grow once again. We use an electric fence which is gradually moved through the pasture over several months. This is a good way to allow wild plants to grow and to prevent the ponies from getting too fat.

Above, is a small wild geranium, growing on bare soil at the edge of the meadow. The flower is smaller than Herb Robert. It may be Common Storksbill, but I`m not convinced about the leaves.

Below is Common Centaury, which is not common at all! I have occasionally seen it growing on roadsides in the New Forest, but one year it suddenly appeared in our field and the little colony has grown, year upon year. There is a legend that it was used by Centaurs ( half man-half horse creatures of Greek mythology) as a herb to heal the wounds of battle. I have noticed that the ponies and wild rabbits do not seem to eat it, so the taste must be bitter.

In the long grass at the end of the Golden Pony`s field, are a few tall Meadow Thistles. When her electric fence reaches the thistles, she will eat them with relish, prickles and all, For now, they are host to honey bees, bumble bees and ..........

....hover flies.

Living on the edge.

Meadow grasses are seeding now.

At the field edge there are Scarlet Pimpernels among the short grasses. They were known as the Poor Man`s Weather Vane. When the flowers are open, the weather is fine. If the flowers are closed, it is raining, or about to!

A single plant of Prostate St John`s Wort, with its tiny yellow flowers. A new arrival this year.

Self heal flowers against a backdrop of Ground Ivy leaves at the hedge bottom. The ground ivy flowered its small purple blooms in the spring.

Here it comes again....More Ragwort rosette appear. We dig out traces of this poisonous plant every week, but it always seems to be one step ahead. The roadsides of Hampshire are covered in its yellow flowers this summer, so more pasture will be seeded by its airborne seeds next year.

Smooth Sow Thistle in flower.

A wild mallow.

A Gatekeeper butterfly on white clover...

...and red clover growing as the buttercups die back.

In the bonfire patch, where the earth was scorched bare by a bonfire in spring, Yarrow is thriving.....

....and so are thistles. Small flocks of goldfinches have been feeding on their seeds this week.

Last, but not least, Redshank, with its dark spotted leaves, brightens a muddy corner where Fat Hen also grows.


Morning's Minion said...

I have been interested in wildflowers and wayside plants since childhood. I long to have the correct identities for each--[I've been practicing "centuary" until it is, I hope, firmly lodged in my mind.
The plant called 'redshank' in your part of the world is one I know as 'polygonum.'
I turned to wikipedia for some research, wandered along from there and half an hour later found I was still reading about wild plants.
That's the beauty of a good blog--I'm intrigued and go off on tangents!

ChrisJ said...

So nice to remember all these wild flowers, (except Redshank and Fat Hen). I have to say I had no idea fields of buttercups are sometimes sprayed -- bit of a shock and rather sad, but I'm sure there are good reasons. I'm way out of depth on this subject, so I'll say no more and look forward to your next post

Kath said...

How lovely. Im glad you did this post as I think we tend to overlook the "weeds" and wild flowers. I didnt know the names of some that you showed, so thanks for the identification :-D
I can still remember the thrill 30 years ago, of identifying (and tasting) wild garlic, growing along the lane to my ponies paddock.

Dartford Warbler said...

Hello MM- you are right. The family name for the Redshank is Polygonum. Along with Bistort and the Knotweeds, it is a member of the dock family.

Hello Chris J - too many buttercups can mean that insufficient grass grows. They are also not good for grazing animals to eat in quantity. It is not a problem with our native ponies, who will thrive on very little grass, but people who keep grander horses will sometimes spray their pastures to ensure more grass. Horses with thoroughbred bloodlines are like fast motor cars. They need higher energy food and burn off the calories more quickly, so a "weedy" paddock may not be enough.

Buttercups thrive on acidic, sandy soils like ours. They may be less of a problem in the alkaline soils of your native, chalky coast at Flamborough.

Hello Kath - like you, I find that the wild flowers of everyday fields, gardens and hedgerows are so lovely, if you stop for long enough to look closely.
I`m constantly finding new plants in the Forest and have to look them up when I get home.

I wish we had Ramsons ( wild garlic). The smell is so delicious!

The Weaver of Grass said...

It's years since I saw a scarlet pimpernel - they seem to be a flower of corn fields. I don't think we get them up here at all. In fact our wild flowers are all rapidly going to seed now, although the heather is just coming out.

Bovey Belle said...

Well would you believe I took a picture of scarlet pimpernel on my last horsey walk but didn't put it amongst the flowers seen in today's post!

I have redshank in my veg. plot but like MM, only knew it as Polygonum.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Please do tell me which Lincolnshire village your mother came from - I just might know it as I lived in Lincolnshire for the first twenty odd years of my life.

WOL said...

The thistles always remind me of Eeyore.