For days now I have been planning to do an allotment catch-up post. For days now I have failed to find the time. This morning I promised myself a session at the allotment and then time in the evening to finally put the post together.
It started out well – I even took the slightly shorter route to give myself more time up at the plot. Walking along the far side of the field I had photographed at the beginning of the month I was initially disappointed that the harvest had not only been gathered in, but the field ploughed over. It seemed so stark, but there was something rather beautiful about the texture of it all, set against a blue summer sky. And of course once I’d taken my camera out to try to record the scene, I found myself glancing off to the side, to the rough grass, wondering what wildflowers might be lurking. I’ve begun to try to learn how to identify the native plants that decorate the fields and hedgerows around the village, fed up with my ignorance and frequently entranced by their beauty.
A patch of White Campion caught my eye, shining out from the dense nettles and couch grass. I am inordinately fond of Campion, red and white, because these were the first wildflowers I ever learnt to identify. I was 9, and our teacher took us outside for a nature walk. For a while afterwards I carried around a little notebook, and loved scribbling down the colour and number of petals, the leaf forms etc. and then trying to work out what I had seen by flicking through my parents’ identification books. I even pressed flowers for a while – I think that was started by a school project too – but I gave it up and quickly lost any knowledge I had gained. I love the stripy buds on White Campion – I don’t love how hard it is to photograph white flowers in blazing sun without the whites burning out, or whatever the correct photographic term is. If anyone has any tips on how to minimise this (other than coming back on a cloudy day), please let me know!
Next up was something I recognised as a native geranium of some kind, but it took my little identification book to tell me that it was called Dovesfoot Cranesbill, which I thought was rather lovely. A rather lovely flower too.
This blaze of yellow on the edge of the field itself has been a little more tricky. I’m pretty sure it is Creeping Yellow Cress, but the leaves were badly chewed so its hard to be certain.
Through the field and over the track and a quick check on the blackberries. This isn’t the best place to pick them – too many competitors – but it is a good indication of when it might be worth venturing further afield with TNG and a couple of bags. A few weeks to go yet.
The mown areas in the field the allotments sit in are smothered in white clover. At least, I say white, but actually a lot of the flowers are tinged with pink. I was feeling a little guilty by this point, TNG was already up at the plot, and here I am lingering over clover. But I can’t resist a quick look in the unmown sections to see what is blooming now that the daisies and poppies are mostly over.
Last time I got distracted by the wildflowers en route to the plot, there were a couple of suggestions as to what the yellow flowers were. Having taken a closer look, including taking lots of (bad) photos of the leaves, I think the prize goes to Mark@Mark’s Veg Plot who correctly identified it as St. John’s Wort. Its still a little hard to tell, but I think it is Slender St. John’s Wort, as the leaves are very thin, and anyway it is the most common type to find in this area. By this point my antics – crouching in the tall grass, shoving my camera lens into the weeds – were earning me some very strange looks from people walking their dogs.
It was such a lovely day, and all this nature gazing had made me feel so mellow, that I could even enjoy the beauty of the Field Bindweed, which is a formidable enemy in the garden. Given how much of it there is in the surrounding field, I am very grateful we don’t seem to have it on the allotments. It is so perfectly adapted, with its habit of climbing up and strangling anything it comes in to contact with, and its ability to regenerate from the tiniest piece of root. Couch grass is enough of a thug to battle with thank you…
I finally made it to the lovely allotment hedge, planted with natives and now over 6 foot tall in places. It is a dense and healthy tapestry of mostly hawthorn, blackthorn and hazel. I went on to do some weeding and harvesting (of courgettes – what else?!), but when I got back and looked at my photos, I realised that if I tried to talk about the allotment as well as the wildflowers I would bore you all to death. And since I found that I really wanted to celebrate the beauty of the wildflowers, and since it is the fourth Wednesday in the month (or will be in a few hours), I thought I’d do my first ever Wildflower Wednesday post. Of course, I would pick the month that Gail@Clay and Limestone, who hosts the meme, was at the Seattle Fling…