It occurs to me that I should be posting about the last of the summer flowers before they disappear for another year. So, here’s a pretty little thing I always enjoy seeing – it’s Scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis).
According to the First Nature website, ‘The genus name Anagallis comes from Greek and means “to delight again” – a reference to the reopening of the flowers each day when the sun comes out. The specific epithet arvensis means “of cultivated land”, which habitat is indeed commonly graced by these lovely little wildflowers.’
Happy (calendar) Autumn!
Today’s plant couldn’t be more appropriate – these are Autumn lady’s-tresses (Spiranthes spiralis). True to their name, they usually appear when the weather turns more autumnal, and their twirling spiral form apparently reminded their original namer of the ringlets once popular in women’s hairstyles.
Though they like to grow in very short turf, Autumn lady’s-tresses are themselves quite small and, surrounded as these were by other wildflowers, especially the superficially similar Eyebright, they weren’t easy to spot.
Luckily for me, when I was having an early wander around Cosmeston this morning, I bumped into a friend of a friend, who is extremely knowledgeable about the local flora, and he very kindly showed me where these gorgeous little orchids were growing.
Most of the scabious I see in local parks and reserves is Devil’s-bit but there is a small area of Field scabious (Knautia arvensis) at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park. The insects love it for its nectar and the birds, in autumn, for its seeds. Can you see what’s lurking on the stem?
I’ve been spending a lot of time over the past couple of weeks staring at Hemp agrimony flowers. I’ve not yet found what I’ve been searching for – you’ll be the first to know when/if I do – but, in the meantime, here are just a few of the lovely creatures I’ve spotted nectaring on these pretty flowers: a Dingy footman moth, a Six-spot burnet moth and a Gatekeeper, a Painted lady, a Red admiral, a Ringlet, a Speckled wood and what might be a Willow beauty moth, but the jury’s still out on that one.
It occurs to me when looking at recent flower photos I’ve taken that the wildflowers currently in bloom have a very imperial look to them: masses of purple, the colour favoured by the emperors of Rome, and swathes of yellow, the colour that dominated the imperial wardrobe in China.
Marsh woundwort (Stachys palustris), found growing in the wildflower meadows in Cardiff’s Hailey Park this week; once regarded as the most effective of the wound-healing woundwort family.
Dyer’s greenweed (Genista tinctoria), plentiful at Lavernock Nature Reserve; also found in archaeological remains left by Vikings in York, proving its use as a yellow dye since at least the 9th century.
Rosebay willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium), firing up the conservation areas at Cathays Cemetery; nicknamed ‘bombweed’ during World War II when it grew in the London ruins created by German bombing raids.
Yellow loosestrife (Lysimachia vulgaris), ablaze beside the River Taff in Cardiff; named in honour of Macedonian King Lysimachus who supposedly fed it to his cattle to calm them, hence lose + strife!
The interesting snippets about these plants were mostly extracted from my Flora Britannica.
I’ve gone butterflying today – fingers crossed I’ll have some beauties to show you tomorrow. In the meantime, I hope these Oxeye daisies will brighten your day as much as they always do mine.
These are Leucanthemum vulgare, also known as Dog daisies, Horse daisies, Moon daisies, Moonpennies and Marguerites. Once abundant in agricultural grasslands, they’ve been driven out of those areas, mostly because of the industrialisation and chemicalisation of modern farming, so now they’re the early colonisers of brown-field sites and roadside verges, and flourish in unimproved grasslands.
If you want to know more about these cheery flowers, check out Plantlife’s website, which always has a wealth of fascinating information about Britain’s wildflowers.
I’m out on a birding trip today and may be home late so here’s a little something I prepared earlier on the gorgeous Foxgloves that I’ve been spotting, growing at the edges of train tracks heading up the Welsh Valleys, and under trees, alongside hedgerows and amongst the bracken at Aberbargoed Grasslands. Foxy places perhaps? Their liking for the places frequented by foxes is the only reason Richard Mabey comes up with in my Flora Britannica for their Foxglove name. It’s a mystery!