You’ll recall I blogged recently about my first outing as a botany mentee. Well, on Thursday I took my second tentative step on the road to learning more about the incredible variety of plants that surround us. This time it was just me and my mentor Julian, though we were joined by another enthusiast David for the morning part of our jaunt. This time also I was better prepared, with a notebook to write down plant names and, though I somehow managed to lose my pen around lunchtime, I’m proud to say I remembered the names of all but one of the afternoon’s plant finds.
One thing I hadn’t expected was a condition I will describe as botanists’ knees. The plants we spent the morning looking for and at, in a ‘grassy’ area on the south Wales coast (I now know ‘grassy’ is a hopelessly inadequate adjective to describe the incredible number of plants growing in those areas I would once have called grass), were never more than an inch or two high so we spent most of the morning on hands and knees, bums in the air. One further unexpected result of that was full sinuses (and the accompanying drippy nose), though perhaps there was an element of hay fever in the mix as well – with my poor eyesight the easiest way to see the finer details of some plants was to take my specs off and get my face within an inch or two of the plants, so I’m sure I breathed in plenty of pollen and dust in the process.
After lunching on a nearby river bank (a couple of specialist plants there too), Julian and I headed to another coastal site nearby, to inspect a car park – it has a rare grass – and to wander amongst some large sand dunes. I’ll blog separately about a couple of the special plants we saw but here is a selection of the more common but no less lovely: (above) Anthyllis vulneraria Kidney vetch, Arenaria serpyllifolia Thyme-leaved sandwort, Erodium cicutarium Common stork’s-bill, (below) Medicago lupulina Black medic, Polygala vulgaris Milkwort, and Sherardia arvensis Field madder. Needless to say, in spite of my sore knees and sniffy nose, I enjoyed the day immensely.