From me and the bee …
Back in June, I wrote a blog post about the insects I’d found when out walking along one of my local trails, the zigzag path that runs down to the marina from upper Penarth. I was critical in that blog of the man-made wildflower patch I’d found, a rectangular area adjacent to the path, where perfectly good local wildflowers had been ploughed up and the area sown with some artificial wildflower mix.
I had some contact following that post with the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Parks and Open Spaces Officer, who was pleased to learn the insects were doing well on the site and said he was ‘surprised if they [the landscape team] didn’t try and use native wildflowers. Hopefully they will spread out and add to the seed-bank all over the site in time.’ I haven’t had the heart to tell him that Council operatives strimmed that wildflower patch a couple of months later, before the plants had even had time to flower, let along spread their seed. What an incredible waste of money that planting scheme was!
Luckily, the Council operatives haven’t yet strimmed or mown the rest of the vegetation growing alongside the path, and the steep banks have been awash with wonderful colour over the summer months. Even as recently as this Wednesday, when I decided to photograph all the different flower species I could find, there was still a lovely variety as you can see.
This beauty is definitely a Mallow (Malva sp.) but it seems paler than the Common mallow (Malva sylvestris), whose flowers are usually a much deeper pinkish-lilac with even darker stripes.
I found it growing on Penarth’s rail trail, a railway line to Barry that fell foul of the Beeching cuts in the 1960s and has since been converted, in part, to a much-used walking and cycle path. The trail is edged on both sides by houses so this plant could very easily have flitted over a back fence or been dropped as seeds by birds. Whichever, its flowers are a very pretty addition to the foliage that lines the trail.
I’m not even going to try to put a name to this little flower except to say it’s an Eyebright, one of around 20 very similar (and 60-plus hybrid) species of Euphrasia. They’re pretty and very dainty little plants, though easily overlooked as they’re don’t grow very tall and so are often obscured by surrounding grasses and overwhelmed by other wildflowers.
According to Richard Mabey’s Flora Britannica: ‘Their name and old medicinal use are a classic example of the Doctrine of Signatures. The flowers, like tiny violets in shape, are mottled with purple and yellow blotches and stripes, not unlike the colours of a bruised eye, and compresses and tinctures made from them were prescribed for all manner of eye disorders.’
Devil’s-bit scabious (Succisa pratensis) has a beautiful flower that paints the wildflower meadows at Lavernock Nature Reserve in shades of purple lusciousness and provides some very welcome late summer nectar and pollen to a host of insects, particularly bees, flies and butterflies.
And that name? Well, the story goes that the devil was not pleased that the plant’s medicinal properties were healing the skin conditions of people suffering from bubonic plague and scabies so, in a fit of rage, he tried to kill off the plant by biting off the ends of the plant’s roots. Ever the party pooper!
It’s Floral Friday so I thought we’d take a look at a few more of the beautiful Crane’s-bill family and one of their cousins, a Stork’s-bill. I think you’ll agree that they’re all rather lovely.
Did you know that in the Victorian era, when flowers were used to convey not-so-hidden meanings, the rhododendron symbolised danger? I really can’t imagine why, except perhaps the danger of being stung by a bee if you put your face too close to the rhoddies’ extravagant blossoms. These beautiful blooms entranced me during a wander through Cardiff’s Bute Park on Monday.
What a week it’s been weather wise! We’ve gone from a generous dumping of snow and temperatures hovering around -5°C last Sunday through occasional rain, sunny periods, UV factors up and down, zephyr winds and mustang gales. Is it spring or isn’t it? Well, I’m seeing increasingly more wildflowers so I guess it must be. Here’s a selection from this week’s wanders.