Thursday, June 27, 2013

On the verge

When I went shopping in the middle of the week,  instead of flitting up the M6 I took the scenic route from Greenholme to Shap. And, luckily, I had the little Fuji camera in my handbag, because the grass verges beside the motorway bridges were a gleaming tapestry of purple and gold. Positively Assyrian.

If you've ever thought that "anything that isn't growing in a tub or a garden bed, and anything other than clipped grass in the lawn, is a weed" then you should have another look at the wonders of Britain's grassland.

I parked the car and I swear I didn't walk more than 100 yards from it but I found over 3 dozen flowering plants:

Yellow ones

A little bushy clump of tormentil
Yellow pea
Bird's foot trefoil
Yellow rattle
Cat's ear
Meadow buttercup
Creeping buttercup
John Go-To-Bed-At-Noon   (and he had)

Green to yellow

Lady's mantle

Water avens occasionally throws double
flowers but those rarely
have any reproductive parts

Yellow to pink

Water avens - several showing a little aberration that it throws occasionally, double flowers



Ragged robin
Red clover

Eyebright is said to get its name
from its medicinal properties


White clover
Cow parsley
Ox-eye daisy
Mouse-ear chickweed (the smaller one)
Not to mention the rowan and the hawthorn bushes.

Northern Marsh Orchids


Marsh orchid (magnificent big fat spikes of them)
Wood cranesbill
Bush vetch


Germander speedwell

Brownish and rusty

Ribwort plantain
Sorrel dock

And that's just the things that were flowering. July will bring us the lavender and white heath orchids and the foamy cream of meadowsweet; thistles of the creeping, musk, marsh, spear and melancholy species; and the bristly brown-and-purple shaving brushes of knapweed.

Green is also a colour

Don't forget the flowering grasses - they are nearly up into your face!


Sweet vernal
Crested dogstail
Yorkshire fog
False brome
Red fescue

A little way along the verge from my house I also found the small Quaking grass, with pendulous flowers on stems like thin wire.

Even a thistle or a nettle has a use: sheep, cattle and horses eat the flowers of thistles (sometimes more), and the nettle has a history varying from cloth and rope to soup and beer, as well as being an ingredient in "dock pudding" and, of course, a feasting place for butterfly caterpillars.
One of the few benefits of Council budget cuts is that they don't send men round quite so often with mowing machines. Look at the glory they have left for us.


MaryWitzl said...

Their names alone are poetrty. I especially love 'eyebright' and 'Queen Anne's lace'. All the fields around us are lit up with red clover, dandelions, and creeping buttercup. I battle those every day in my own garden, along with sticky willy, but I love them dearly in the meadows and verges.

MaryWitzl said...

'Poetry', damn it. Sticky willy is in my keyboard too, apparently.

Sue Millard said...

I just did a clearout of the cow parsley from the garden (it's beginning to set seed now and I have enough of it!) - and the goosegrass (stickybuds or sticky willy). Ruby can hoover up sheaves of it over the next few days.