Monday, 6 June 2016

Coastal wild flowers

The cliffs are covered in wild flowers at the moment. It is wonderful sight. and as usual I have taken too many pictures - this is only a selection!


Daisies are everywhere!



The yellow birds-foot trefoil is a wonderful source of nectar and pollen to bees. I was amazed to discover that it has over 70 different names! These range from Eggs and bacon, Butter and Eggs, Hens and chickens, Dutchmen's clogs and Lady slippers. A less attractive name is Granny's toe nails, which like the bird foot describes the claw like seed pods. Many years ago we had a friend visiting us who was an wildlife expert, and of all the plants in our garden he was most excited to see a patch of this flower in a forgotten corner! Is there any other names that you associate this plant with?


The Valerian flower in both it's white and pink form are also in abundance. Once it finds somewhere happy to grow it will spread and seed happily! We introduced a plant in our previous front garden and it ended up appearing in many of the neighbouring gardens too! It is also another good plant for bees and butterflies.


The next plant is I think, Milk Thistle, it too has many other names including Mediterranean Thistle, Mary's thistle and Scottish thistle. You can recognise it by the milk like sploshes on the leaves and the milky white sap when the leaves are crushed. It is amazing to think that it has been used medically for the last 2,000 years to treat liver complaints.


At this time of year the sea thift creates dense mats of pink along the cliffs and shoreline. It is at it's best in May and June.


Along the Chesil beach even when the sky looks so grey there are colourful plants to be found in this hostile environment. The silvery grey plants are sea kale, which are just coming into flower. Has anyone tried growing this in the garden? It was recommended at a talk we went to last year. You can purchase the seeds from seed merchants. It was considered a delicacy in Victorian times and it was almost pushed to extinction. It has recently become very popular with chefs and is now being grown on a commercial basis. It's tender shoots can be eaten like asparagus and the young leaves can be used much like spinach even the flowers are edible. It is also known as scurvy grass as it used to be pickled and taken on long sea journeys to prevent scurvy.



The white flowers of sea campion, it looks a pretty little flower but in folklore it was never picked for fear of tempting death. It was also known as Dead Man's bells and Witches thimbles. I wonder if it is any coincidence that it is found along the shoreline of Deadman's Bay!


 Can anyone identify these beetles?


The yellow horned poppy's name is derived from the colour of the flower and it's seed pod.


Close by was also a huge area of Hemlock, it looks similar to Cow parsley, but this plant is poisonous. The hemlock prefers to grow in damp ground, it's foliage smells mousey and it has purple spots on the stems.


Moving slightly inland, many of the fields around us are full of buttercups and common sorrel. Do you think this lamb (above) likes butter? It has been lovely over the weekend hearing the sound of the sheep drifting over the hedge as we worked in the garden.

 

The May (Hawthorn) and Cow Parsley are still in full bloom and the Elderflower is just starting to flower and scent the area with it's blossom. We will be making our first batch of Elderflower cordial later. I might even have time this year to make some Elderflower champagne! Which wildflower is the most abundant in your area at the moment?

Apologies for not being around much in blog land this week, the flora, fauna and scenery keeps calling me away from the computer! I am trying to learn the different varieties of plant as I go along so if I have got anything wrong please let me know!


Wishing you a good week ahead!
Sarah x





47 comments:

  1. I love wildflowers, and it was lovely to see the ones you have blooming where you live, Sarah. I posted about a North American wildflower called Lady's Slipper in my latest blog post. It is completely different than yours! Ours is a dainty white flower, and is part of the orchid family. And I'm wondering if the sea kale is edible.

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    1. Your Lady's slipper orchid looks so much more beautiful and they fit their name so well. They are extremely rare in the wild here. The sea kale is edible, I have added further details above.Sarah x

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  2. You have shared with us a beautiful display of wild flowers that carpet the countryside at this time of the year and are a delight for any eye.
    Than you for spreading the joy!

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  3. Sarah, you and I are kindred spirits. I have spent time lately looking at the wildflowers on this little island. Love, love this post. Nature is so incredible. In my youth I missed out on so many of the little things of wonder in life. Now I have some time to stop and notice some of the incredible details. Retirement is wonderful. Blogging is too!

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  4. Your photos capture the look of the cliffs very well and down here in Devon the cliffs have much the same look. One plant that is abundant at present on the cliffs is kidney vetch, it seems to be ahead of the birds foot trefoil.

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  5. Lovely, lovely post, Sarah. I was by the sea a couple of weekends ago (meaning to blog about it but somehow the days have slipped past ... ). My sister was very taken with the sea kale and wondered about digging a bit up - I had to give her a mild telling off!! The local council have outlawed it so obviously other people had the same idea! I've made my elderflower cordial last week but might have to make some more as I've discovered a tree with very sweet smelling flowers. ... And I wish I had someone to guide me through the maze of wildflowers: hogweed, hemlock and cow parsley, they all look the same to me!!

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    1. I have now added so more information in the post about sea kale. It is easy to obtain the seeds and as you say it shouldn't be dug up! Sarah x

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  6. So beautiful - that first photo says it all!

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  7. What a coincidence , I was having a conversation about the differences between hemlock and cow parsley today and no one knew which was which. You have answered the question! Gorgeous photos as always. I love the yellow horned poppy. Like you I am trying to improve my wild flower knowledge this year. Have a good week. B xx

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    1. There are several plants that all look like cow parsley it is very confusing. I can recognise cow parsley quite easily but I find it more difficult to identify hemlock, hogweed or wild carrot! Sarah x

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  8. What an absolutely delightful post. I have red and white Valerian in my garden which was introduced by a neighbour many many years ago x

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  9. Such a pretty time of year isn't it. I like the idea of growing sea kale - it sounds delicious! Juliex

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  10. What wonderful blooming! I feel exactly like you, too busy enjoying nature to spend time at my laptop. There will be rainy days soon enough.

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  11. Hey Sarah,
    Brilliant post. I didn't know the folklore behind any of them. I can recognise and name many, but there a some that either forget or just don't know. It is simply teeming with wild flowers everywhere here. I think the valerian has gone rogue this year! Oh and if you've never made elderberry champagne, you must. It is gorgeous, but quite explosive!
    Leanne xx

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  12. I don't think it's possible to take too many photos of such beautiful flora. And with the sea in the background - perfection. I've always loved thrift. When I was little we did lots of coastal walks and I remember it well. The sea campion is really pretty too, and what gorgeous beetles. A blissful post, nature is really outdoing herself this year I think. CJ xx

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  13. The wildflowers on your clifftops are spectacular as are your photos - as a child I always knew the yellow flower as birdsfoot trefoil along with eggs and bacon.
    I don't know what your beetles are called, but they up to the same antics as my red lily beetles which I have to catch before they lay their grubs on my plants!!!

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  14. What a breathtaking view with all of those flowers, such beautiful photos.

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  15. Abundance of flowers! Absolutely beautiful. Milk Thistle flower is so exotic! I have an interest in medicinal herbs and it's so interesting to hear the power of healing they have. Thanks for sharing this post!

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  16. Lovely! What would the world be without wildflowers!

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  17. Just when I thought there wasn't a more beautiful place in the world, there it is. Sigh...

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  18. Lovely post, all the photos make me want to visit Dorset....all the more so because we are in the middle of winter here in Canberra. Enjoy your soft and pretty summer landscape.

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  19. Beautiful, really beautiful. And that beetle is such lovely colours, I haven't seen one like that before xxx

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  20. Nature is one abundance of flowers at the moment. Your photos are more than beautiful, I should love to be there. The beetle on one of your photos I don't know by name, but I have seen this one before, even in my garden.
    June is definitely the most floriferous month of the year, enjoy it on the tops of your cliffs.

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  21. Lovely pictures, as always, Sarah. Ones that make us ALL want to live by the sea! I don't think I have ever eaten Sea Kale, but I reckon it's something I'd like to try. I'm always intrigued that you can start it off from cuttings called "thongs"!

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  22. Lovely post Sarah. The wildflowers round here are outdoing themselves this year too. It's all so abundant and beautiful. I've been googling a lot of the flowers to find out what they are, so thank you for this tutorial! We have lots of sea kale here, too, and oxeye daisies - so many daisies. I absolutely love them. Also campions and sorrel but no thrift that I've seen. Yet. Sam x

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  23. Nature is SUCH A SHOW-STOPPER! Oh Sarah, those daisies....I just was reminded our your beloved Daisy girl....how wonderful this life is, to witness all life, so fleeting, but so commanding of our attention. Marvelous sea and landscapes, and that beetle; SO GORGEOUS! Enjoy another fabulous day.

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  24. Everything is so amazing and so beautiful!! The amount of flowers is incredible isn't it!

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  25. I've always heard the birdsfoot trefoil called "butter and eggs" in our part of the world. It's considered a non-welcome invasive in many parts of the US. But, of course, it thrives! There's something about thistles that I've always loved--such beauty with all that prickliness. The buttercup under the lamb's chin is a marvelous shot. I'm with you on blogging--too much beauty outside--it can wait until a rainy day.

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  26. Such a lovely post and with beautiful photos, as always. The cliffs look their best in spring and early summer with all the wildflowers. Thrift reminds me of early summer holidays in Cornwall and I love to see it. I know birds-foot trefoil as egg and bacon plant. I was delighted to see it growing (and spreading) on our smallholding and attracting the common blue butterfly.

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  27. Oh Sarah, this post is WONDERFUL! The Wild flowers are just sensational and so abundant!!! Those beetles are very attractive too!

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  28. Oh it is looking really beautiful in coastal Dorset. Wildflowers are abundant here too attracting butterflies and insects galore, but when you see them growing on cliffs against a backdrop of blue sparkling sea it is very special. I do hope they hang on for another few weeks as we're hoping to get down to the West Country before the end of the month.

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  29. Glorious! A beautiful selection x

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  30. I love your pictures of the flowers so close to the sea!

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  31. I love wildflowers and it's good to learn the names of some of the seaside ones which of course we don't see here. Our hedgerows are full of my favourite cow parsley at the moment and I love seeing fields full of buttercups too. We have red valerian in the garden, but I would love to have some white valerian too

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  32. Oh what a beautiful post! The nature there is just amazing...
    Have a great day and take care!
    Titti

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  33. nice pics Sarah always nice to see whats afoot down in the West country

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  34. Such beautiful photos and such wonderful colours! Keep taking "too many" photos please!

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  35. wonderful Sarah. Thank you.

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  36. Really beautiful photos and flowers!
    We must get over to the Purbeck coast soon, while the flowers are at their best.

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  37. Hi Sarah,

    The wildflower are so beautiful and must be wonderful walking along there. Also love your new header with the pretty mauve flowers. Can't help you with the beetle sorry but has a lovely iridescent coat.
    Have a lovely weekend and thanks for the kind visit to my blog, appreciate your friendship.
    Hugs
    Carolyn

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  38. I just can't grow Valerian though it grows everywhere else ! Love the sheep & lamb in the buttercup fields x

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  39. Such a lovely post. It’s great to see the beautiful flora being captured, especially as all the unique colours and flowers emerge in summer. Dorset is indeed a wonderful and unique part of England. It always makes for a great location to holiday.

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  40. What a stunning post! I love wildflowers and their names, and I grew up calling bird's foot trefoil Lady's Slippers. I planted a thrift in our garden this week on the rockery. I love your thistle photo and the final one too. Just beautiful.
    Cathy x

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  41. Beautiful, your wildflower pictures! I love the Centranthus, have seen it in Britain everywhere. In Germany it is not so well known.

    Sigrun

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  42. This is a delightful post, Sarah, and you have inspired me to consult my bug books to try to identify your beetles. I think they might be a type of jewel beetle...perhaps a buprestis rustica or relative there of. I was fascinated to see so many brilliant colored beetles in a computer image search! I just got back from ten days camping and posted some photos of some of the wildflowers I saw, most of which are nameless to me. I think your lamb likes butter, or at least buttercups :) I especially like that photo! Thanks for posting! xx

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  43. That first pic is lovely. I think we have hemlock growing here too. Either that or hogweed. Whatever it is I treat it with extreme caution!

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