Saturday, 11 July 2015

Wild flower filled morning

Our plant survey team had an early start this morning.  In an attempt to dodge the spectators for the Scottish Open, held at nearby Gullane, we met at half past eight.  We split up into little groups and set off to our appointed sites.

The wild flowers throughout Aberlady Bay are just glorious.  They are not big, showy flowers, but collectively they pack a huge punch!  Below there is white clover, pale pink ragged robin, yellow rattle, marsh orchid, and lots of grasses, (and sedges) which I am not very good at identifying, but I am still learning!
In the photo below there is the little yellow flower of lesser spearwort, a member of buttercup family.  The purple flower is less attractively named lousewort.  I think it was given that name because it didn't have very good press in the past!  The tiny white stars belong to marsh-bedstraw.

 This is the handsome cinnabar moth, enjoying the glorious spire of viper's bugloss.  
My favourite seedhead belongs to the goat's beard.  The flower is quite small, in relation to the dock, which is quite beautiful.  I've got a few young plants which I have grown from some collected seed. There used to be a plant growing at the end of the drive, but the repeated, ill-timed cutting of the road verges has wiped it out.  So the goat's beard seedlings and I are fighting back!
The distant two chimneys of the decommissioned Cockenzie Power Station are due for demolition in October.  I have yet to meet anyone in the area who does not lament their passing! They are a real landmark, and I will certainly miss them when they have been reduced to rubble.  In the foreground, the soft pink-brown is quaking-grass, Briza media, which I knew as totty grass when I was a little girl!
Either side of the path through the Aberlady Reserve, there are lovely patches of wild thyme and lady's bedstraw, beloved of bees.  
 This is the common twayblade orchid, which is thriving in its marshy environment.  
Water mint, young twayblade plants, the round leaves of marsh pennywort, the glamorous northern marsh orchid,
and a very impressive example of the early purple orchid.
There is masses of meadowsweet, and it is just coming into flower.  Its lovely almondy scent is one of summer's highlights for me.  Meadowsweet has always been a highly valued herb, dating back to the Bronze Age when traces were found in burial sites.  It was a sacred herb for the Druids, who used it in rituals and medicines.  It was the flavouring for mead, and also used as a strewing herb in medieval times, to mask unpleasant smells in churches and homes.  I also find it fascinating that the root, when crushed, smells very distinctly of TCP antiseptic.  It probably has a role to play there too!
It is hard to leave Aberlady Bay.  To my mind, to spend a morning surrounded by wild flowers can't really be surpassed!  I often just stand and look around me, and think how lovely it is, to be in such a flower-rich environment.  It does the soul good!

On my way home, I passed this field.  The field marigold seems to have almost taken over the crop of barley!  I don't suppose the farmer is very thrilled, but I thought it was a wonderful sight, and in this day and age of the 'chemical plough', one you don't see very often!


  1. Mr Cinnabar both looks like he has a hand painted cape on.... A moth superhero!
    He is rather gorgeous! 🔴

  2. Isn't he! He starts off life as a black and yellow stripe caterpillar, so definitely a bit of a show off! x