Sunday, 15 April 2012

Wildflower safari



Driving across the border into Suffolk on Friday I noticed little clumps of cowslips, stitchwort and wood anemones by the side of the road. We've had chicken pox in the house so much of the last week has been spent cooped up, but these little glimpses of wildflowers reminded me that Spring was definitely here.




Stitchwort, taken using iPhone

Reading Sarah Raven's feature on wildflower sites in last month's Country Living magazine, I realised that I hadn't been in a bluebell wood since I was a child. I live in the country for goodness sake! This seemed wrong. Yesterday the Mr told me I needed a few hours off - I had strict instructions to get out of the house and have fun, so I hatched a plan.



Oxlip in Lower Wood, taken using iPhone

I knew that Celia of Purple Podded Peas gets as excited about wildflowers as I do, so after a couple of texts off we went on a wildflower safari. We were armed with homemade shortbread and a copy of Food for Free (just in case we got lost and had to forage for our lunch).

Our first stop was Lower Wood. We hoped for bluebells. We were not disappointed. The blue was breathtakingly intense.



By the side of the path through the wood was a beautiful patchwork of wild plants and flowers: oxlips (a little like cowslips but with more open flowers), wild strawberry, wood avens, meadowsweet and dog's mercury.

This was a truly magical place - entirely quiet except for birdsong.



Our next stop was the Devil's Dyke, a place where rare pasque flowers grow (see above). They are usually found on ancient sites or earthworks and legend says they grow where viking or Roman blood has been spilt. I had never seen a pasque flower before. They were exquisite.



Our final wildflower safari destination was Mickfield Meadow, one of the very few remaining spots where snakeshead fritillaries still grow wild. At first we could hardly see any but then we realised that most of them had been picked! Almost an entire generation of the fritillary plants won't be able to set seed this year. This is the kind of thing that makes me want to paint banners and stomp around shouting. We contacted the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. They are investigating.



Despite the shock of the decimated fritillaries it was a fabulous day. Celia and I gave overexcited squeaks each time we spotted something new. I tweeted a picture of oxlips from inside the wood! This may be a slightly embarrassing level of wildflower nerdery but one thing became clear yesterday: a walk in a flower-filled place is rather magical - and it's free!

There are lists of bluebell woods here, here and here,.

Edited to add: The Suffolk Wildlife Trust visited the meadow and told us the fritillaries were most likely eaten by deer/rabbits/pigeons due to the recent cold snap. The fritillary population wont be badly affected, which is a huge relief.

33 comments:

Gina said...

It sounds like a parfect day out. Hope all the chicken pox has cleared up... miserable for you all.

julie said...

What a wonderful safari. We have such beautiful native wildflowers and it's lovely to see some of them here - not good about the fritillaries though. I need to go on a bluebell walk soon - we have a really good bluebell wood very near to us and it is the perfect time to visit now isn't it.

Magic Cochin said...

It was indeed a super day! I admit to being a wildflower nerd and it was a joy to join you.

The shortbread was mighty fine too!

Celia
xx

greenrabbitdesigns said...

I think I may do a bluebell walk this afternoon.
Not at all nerdy, I still have all my wildflower books I had as a child.
Such a shame about the fritillaries, they are amazing flowers. :)
Vivienne x

dottycookie said...

What a glorious way to spend the day! Hope the dreaded pox is well on its way out by now.

Down by the sea said...

What a wonderful way of spending a day out,thank you so much for sharing.
Sarah

Su said...

What a wonderful day out you had, and such treasures that you spied. Shame about the fritillaries, some people have no sense or respect. I haven't been a bluebell wood for a few years now, I think I'll have to change that now!

Menopausalmusing said...

What a brilliant trip out! Wish I lived nearer. I could weep re the fritillaries.........

Julie said...

I was in London yesterday and walked past a garden square where bluebells were flowering. It was lovely to see them and the smell was gorgoeus. You saw some beautiful flowers and I would be with you in anger at the wilful destruction of the gorgeous fritillaries.

I do hope you are soon rid of the chickenpox. xx

Frances said...

Emma, what a grand time you and Celia must have had. Let me raise my hand as also being infatuated with wildflowers!

The video really expresses the lovely woodsy quiet.

I do hope that you all are emerging from the bout of chicken pox.

xo

...Tabiboo... said...

Ohhhh no - I'm totally with you on the nerd front Emma - I was spying cowslips only two days ago and squealing with delight.

Absolutely beautiful

Nina x

Betty said...

Fabulous - snakes head fritillaries and cowslips are getting rare now, I haven't seen any in the woods here in 18 years - you are so lucky!

Madelief said...

I enjoyed watching your wildflower safari! There are so many beautiful flowers in bloom at the moment. You captured them wonderfully.

Your daughters look very sweet on your Easter post!

Happy new week,

Madelief x

Beth said...

What a great post! I love wild flowers, in fact I treated myself to Sarah Raven's book (Wild Flowers) as soon as it came out. I am wondering of the snakeshead fritillaries were picked or eaten? I have a lot in our lawn here (planted by me) but every single one has had it's top eaten just as they were about to flower, I was so cross with the rabbits as I was very excited about the show they were about to produce, they left much of the grass around the flowers long, just nipped off the flowerheads.

Beth (the linen cat)x

Toffeeapple said...

How lovely to have someone to share it with, I do envy you both.

RHIANNON said...

I would love such a guided tour as I am a wildflower nerd. Luckily I live near therfield heath which has pasque flowers. http://www.flickr.com/photos/10145223@N02/6899606222/in/photostream

by Teresa said...

There's nothing nerdy about loving wildflowers! I'm always photographing them and posting them on my blog, too. In Oregon we're almost all wildflower "hippies". :-) Glad you got an outing. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

Belinda @ Wild Acre said...

I get totally over excited about wildflowers tool and am very envious of your safari!! Thx for sharing it with us. I have just planted three pasqueflowers in the garden but have never been lucky enough to see them in the wild? Mt fritillaries get munched by pheasants and rabbits, perhaps that is what happened? X

Rachel said...

Fritillaries are lovely aren't they!

Menopausalmusing said...

I had just come back over to ask whether you thought that maybe the fritillaries had been eaten, but I see someone else has asked that. I only thought about it this afternoon as we are having problems with deer getting into our garden and doing damage.....

Mrs. Micawber said...

If ever you start a Wildflower Nerds club I shall be the first to sign up. I love stalking wildflowers and learning new varieties. How nice to have a friend to share the fun!

Handmade in Israel said...

What a fabulous day out! There is nothing like a bit of wild flower spotting :) I just wrote a post about "Lupin Hill" where we found so many beautiful wild Lupins - just wonderful!

driftwood said...

oh what a lovely outing with wonderful wildflowers. lots of gorgeous inspiration ! xxx

Thimbleanna said...

What beautiful flowers! How fun to spend a day just hunting the flowers with a friend. Sounds like a wonderful weekend!

dragonfly said...

Oh, I love posts like this! I'm a nature nerd too and am furious to read about picked fritillaries.

Our annual bluebell walk isn't for another month, I do hope we won't have missed them. Hmmm, I might do a sneaky recce beforehand ...

Lori ann said...

how beautiful! i loved this post and your blog (i'm your newest follower). my husband and i chase the wildflowers every year, it's a brief but lovely time!
love your jewelry too!

The Coffee Lady said...

It is a good thing that dandelions aren't so loved.I have about a hundred of them that Littlest picks whenever we're out, going dry at the bottom of my handbag.

Locket Pocket said...

Oh Emma I'm so sorry to hear the Little Miss Pebbles have been poorly :o( Hope they are much better now. Sending lots of love, Lucy xx

rental mobil said...

Nice article, thanks for sharing.

Ginnie said...

Thank you for sharing all the natural beauty! What a treat.

Annie @ knitsofacto said...

I'm not sure you can be overly wild flower nerdy! I spent an hour on Saturday photographing a bank of cowslips ... only when I found myself lying on my stomach in mud did I stop to question my sanity.

Great post Emma, and how lucky you are to live where you do :D

zephyr said...

i am geeky over wildflowers, too and i loved this post...and am relieved, with you, to know the fritillaries are okay.

Cottage Garden said...

Oh I haven't been to Mickfield Meadow for a long time - must rectify that. What a shame about the snakeshead fritillaries.

We plan to go to Blickling this weekend for a bluebell walk - fingers crossed for showers as opposed to torrential rain!

Jeanne
x