Saturday, 24 February 2018
ALONG the banks of Greys Road by the Gainsborough estate in Henley, the bulbous buttercup and mouse-eared hawkweed, common vetch and field woodrush are in flower.
This hawkweed is a lemony yellow, small, dandelion-shaped flower rising from a cluster of hairy leaves, hence its name.
The upper section has been mown to encourage the interesting funghi which have been identified here, the next section left for the flowers and grasses, tiny blue myosotis/early forget-me-not, yarrow, plantain and white deadnettle.
A larger section than needed has been scalped by the pavement, where the grass does need to be kept off the tarmac and from wetting our feet, so that only daisies survive.
By the pram walk is red clover, a garden poppy round the lamppost, cow parsley by the grey box and the tiny yellow dots of spotted medick by the lamppost — great that the street furniture is helping keep our flora and insects alive!
Unfortunately, the strip above the pram walk has been “tidied”, so that the white campion, phacelium and poppies may not recover but knapweed, hedgerow cranesbill, purple scabious and pink musk mallow are yet to come. Look out for pyramidal orchids in July.
The management of a wildflower meadow is complicated and skilled; it should be mown once in the autumn, after flowering, the sward left for seeds to drop and then the dry grass removed so that the suckers from the cherries and the sycamore seedlings are also prevented from growing into trees.
Towards the scout hut ragwort is appearing, the blue eyes of germander speedwell, sorrel and lamb’s lettuce (eat only the fresh leaves).
If cut too early, the grass is still full of insects, as I discovered when a keen relative “tidied” my wildflower patch in the lawn — the raspberry canes were full of bouncing grasshoppers which had been cruelly displaced.
All the walls along the lanes of Henley sprout beautiful weeds at this time of year, as does the Holy Trinity Church graveyard — pink bush vetch, wild strawberry, wood avens, blue alkanet (looking like a big, hairy forget-me-not but actually a sempervirens) and, of course, dandelions and buttercups, ladies’ bedstraw and ferns in the shady corners, where another form of wildlife congregates....
As well as the robin, blackbird and woodpecker you may, at dusk, identify the spotted teenager gathering to smoke various substances, which is why the bench has had to be removed.
15 May 2017
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