It’s been a couple of weeks since I last checked which wildflowers are still flowering so, as I wandered the countryside this week, I kept my eyes open for what was still about. Perhaps surprisingly, as it has been a bit colder and frostier, those plants still flowering are pretty much the same as on my New Year’s plant hunt, with one exception. I’ve not discovered any Red Campion locally but found a couple of plants in bloom on Wednesday during my walk from Parc Slip Nature Reserve back to the railway station in Tondu. It’s the first flower shown below, and the others are all the locals I’ve spied.
In truth, there is nothing wild about these gorgeous daffodils – they must’ve been planted several years ago in the wide verges near Cardiff Bay Hospital, but it was such a delight to see their bright and glorious little faces bobbing in the light breeze on a grey day. And they were rather nicer than the thick sticky mud I trudged through as I made a circuit of Grangemoor Park.
From 29 December to 1 January don’t be surprised if you see people taking photos of blooming wildflowers, puzzling over pictures in ID books, scratching their heads over the differences between one plant species and another. We are the New Year Plant Hunters, doing our best to find and identify as many wildflowers in bloom as possible throughout Britain to help the BSBI (Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland) keep track of what’s happening in the botanical world around us. And you can join in. Go for a walk, list what you find and submit your list on the BSBI website. So, for day 6 of my #7DaysofWildChristmas, I took myself on a walk around Penarth and was delighted to find these 27 species in bloom.
Well, I have to say I’m really rather pleased, and surprised, with this week’s blooming wildflower finds. I certainly didn’t expect to find Dove’s-foot crane’s-bill (Geranium molle) still flowering at Christmastime, and the Mallow and Red dead nettle were also nice surprises. So, this week I don’t just have Winter 10 for Wildflowerhour, I have Winter 21.
It’s certainly getting a little more difficult now to find any wildflowers in bloom but, tucked away from the prevailing westerlies and battering rain in small sheltered niches, a few wee beauties still persist.
And, of course, the winter-flowering species, like the Winter heliotrope pictured above, are just beginning their flowering period. I managed to find several large swathes of this invasive plant in and around Penarth this week. My other finds are shown below.
I’ve blogged previously about the wildflower and invertebrate delights of the local zigzag path that leads from Penarth down the cliffs to Penarth Marina. It’s a path I walk at least once a week so, during Friday’s wander, I decided to see what wildflowers were still in bloom there for this week’s Wildflowerhour and its Winter 10 challenge. And here they are …
It seems constantly to be raining here at the moment, which is limiting my opportunities to get outdoors with the camera. Luckily, lovely little things are happening indoors and so I’m taking this opportunity to show off my green fingers … though, in truth, I didn’t actually get this process right and it’s all happening in spite of my efforts rather than because of them.
I bought these beautiful cyclamen plants almost two years ago, to add some colour to my new flat and, except for a short rest period each year during the heat of summer, they’ve flowered almost constantly ever since. (I really must re-pot them next time they rest.)
When I noticed a couple of the expired flowers had developed into seed heads, I thought I’d have a go at growing more plants. I googled for instructions, extracted the seeds, popped them in some potting mix and waited.
Initially, nothing happened and I had actually given up on them but, it seems they need the cold to trigger their growth as, since the cooler weather has arrived, they have begun popping up.
The earliest sprouters are now about thumb height, with tiny second and third leaves just coming through. On yet another grey day, I sit here imagining a whole windowsill of pink lusciousness!
Here are this week’s still-flowering wildflowers for Wildflowerhour’s #Winter10 challenge, found during my perambulations around my local patch. These are (I think): Dove’s-foot crane’s-bill (above), Bush vetch, Common chickweed, Daisy, Herb Robert, Ivy-leaved toadflax, Petty spurge, Red campion, a sowthistle (possibly Smooth sowthistle) (must pay more attention to the leaves next time), and Yellow corydalis.
If you’ve been following for a while, you’ll know I’ve been trying on and off to learn the names of, and a bit more about, the British wildflowers I find on my meanderings. And, to that end, I follow a weekly happening on Twitter called #wildflowerhour. You can read more about that in my previous blog here. During winter they run a challenge to find and name at least 10 wildflowers each week and share them on social media using the hashtag #winter10.
Earlier this week, I decided to see what I could find as I walked firstly through Lavernock Nature Reserve and then homeward through Cosmeston Lakes Country Park. And, er, actually, for this week my hashtag needs to be #winter11. These are they: Blue fleabane, Bramble species, maybe a Hawkbit species, some kind of Buttercup, a Dandelion species, a Daisy and Devil’s-bit scabious, Yellow-wort, a thistley thing and Red clover, and Common ragwort. You can see I’ve still got some learning to do!
They glisten silver and gold in the late autumn sunshine these Carline thistles, with their thick fringe of papery bracts and heads of soft golden down. I blogged about the flowers last year; now here are the ‘everlasting’ seed heads that can be seen all through the chilly months of winter.