Skip to main content

Wild flowers

I lept out of bed on Saturday morning, not because the sun was shining and the great outside beckoned, but because I had forgotten I had another plant identification training session with the other conservation volunteers!  I got to Aberlady Bay in time!  This is one of the four sites comprising the grazing project run by East Lothian Council.  We have a stalwart Biodiversity Officer, Stuart, who accompanies us on these training sessions, giving up his Saturday mornings, but he told me he enjoys it so much that he doesn't mind!  And there is something really special about minutely examining the wild plants in their diverse habitats. Aberlady Bay is a big reserve and for the purposes of this survey, it is broken down into three different groups to include marshland plants, and loads of others I have yet to discover!  I am joining their team this year, having worked on Trapain Law for the last two years.  It's a huge site and the more volunteers the merrier.

We started off by crossing the wooden footbridge and immediately found plants to examine.    
Apart from the specific features of each plant, we are trying to learn how to identify them within their family groups. The bit I love as much as anything are their names.  Here is a kingcup, or marsh marigold. 
In amongst the collection of greenery, in the photo below, there are the immature leaves of ragged robin, meadowsweet, and the kingcup.  We saw the young leaves of wild angelica, hemlock, lesser burdock, marjoram, lady's bedstraw, and the carnivorous plant, butterwort.  In flower there was springbeauty (which I recognised but had never heard the name before), cowslips, dog violet, common mouse-ear, the pretty pale mauve flowers of milk maid - or maybe you know it as cuckoo flower or lady's smock.  That's another wonderful feature of wild flower names, they vary according to which part of the country you come from.  As a child I knew lady's smock as milk maids;  others in the group recognised it as cuckoo flower.
 It's a windswept site but with wonderful views across the bay and the Firth of Forth, to Fife.  The grassland may look grey and unpromising but you would be surprised at the range of plants nestling in amongst the dead winter grasses.  There are carnation sedges, 
In complete contrast to the grey windy weather of the morning, by late afternoon the sun was shining and Tilly was hinting about a promised walk.  

In the woods around the house, and along the top edge of one of the fields, there is yellow archangel - a handsome plant, with another wonderful name.
 The late afternoon sunshine, giving a sideways light, really livens up the colours!  I love the clean line of this field, sitting in front of the wood behind.
This is the seedhead of the coltsfoot, one of the first flowers to come out at the very end of winter.  The flower stalk comes first, with its lovely bright yellow flower, and later the big floppy leaves.
And lastly, yesterday, one of my favourite wild flowers, the field pansy, or I know it as heartsease.  The flower is absolutely tiny, but it packs a punch for me!


  1. The trees on the heathland certainly get blown in one direction. Remind me of the ones you see on the African plains. Sal xx


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Coastal walk from Gullane to North Berwick

By the time I have walked about four miles, my toes are screaming at me - it's the arthritis, you see.  One of the joys of being that little bit older than I was.  However, for a long time, I have been keen to walk along the beaches, and follow the coastal path, between Gullane and North Berwick. So, having worked out the tide times, I decided today was the day, and off we went.
Below is our starting point, the bay at Gullane.  It's a lovely beach, very popular with dog walkers. This is looking east, the direction Tilly and I were going to take.
Looking back, up the Forth, the unmistakable bulk of Arthur's Seat, and Edinburgh's skyline, just clear enough to see.
For most of the walk, there is the choice between wandering along a series of beaches, or following a path along the top of each.
There's no denying it, at heart I am a shell-seeker.  I have loads of shells at home.  We lived on one of the out islands in the Bahamas for a just over a year, a long time ago, and …

A celebratory miniature vase on Monday

Cathy at, whose brainchild IAVOM (In A Vase On Monday) it is, has set us a challenge this week, to produce a miniature vase, no bigger than 6"/15cm tall or wide, to celebrate the 6th anniversary of the weekly Monday post.

I have used an eggcup, with egg, to give some scale to my offering this week.  The nasturtiums have survived a couple of frosts and some cold nights, but possibly not for much longer.  I picked the smallest flowers I could find to fit in a tiny porcelain vase, which is almost completely spherical with a circular off-centre opening.  It was made by a friend from long ago, Ingrid Atkinson, who I have not seen for about thirty years.  She used to live and work as a ceramicist in West Meon, in Hampshire.

The flowers may be small, but they still pack a colourful punch!
We also have another tiny porcelain vase made by the late Austrian-born British ceramics artist Lucie Rie.  Today's challenge seemed too good an opportun…

Falling apart in a vase on Monday

No leaf was harmed in the production of this vase on Monday!  They just fell apart all by themselves.  Fragile ruby red stems of leaflets from the rowan tree in our garden, glorious robust butter yellow and gingernut coloured leaves from one of my witch hazel bushes, and the delicate graceful leaves of silver birch.  They have all come together for my vase this week, and I feel they should be viewed with a sound track, so here is the link to Eva Cassidy singing Autumn Leaves.'s all very melancholy, but however glorious autumn may be to the eye, it always brings a melancholy feeling to the heart.  Another year moving towards its close.