After walking for three weeks I returned to overgrown grass and weeds. A gruelling half day foray had the basics under control, but writing this post arises from a not so subconscious deferring of the need to get out there and do more.
Fronting my road is a bank producing daffodils. That foray brought out my petrol strimmer, a rash indulgent purchase a couple of years ago, to scythe the now wilted stalks and two foot high grass (gardeners have told me you have to leave them to let the nutrients flow back into the bulbs - a likely story). It takes all of ten minutes to cut back the main growth and that is the annual, only use I have for that machine, which is a devil to start, and then has to be cleaned afterwards, and because of infrequent use I had to buy special, expensive two-stroke mixture that has a two year shelf life. I found that ordinary mixture, if left in the machine coats its innards with some sort of lacquer and it was only after being used once it had to go back to the supplier for a carburettor strip down and clean costing a significant percentage of its original price. When I retrieve it from its home under the house I look at it with hatred and the pessimistic thought that it is not going to start again.
For years I have wished I had more knowledge of wild flowers, especially as I tend to visit wilderness regions where rarities may be found. I envy two fellow bloggers, Beating the Bounds and http://phreerunner.blogspot.com/Phreerunner for their botanical knowledge.
Identifying birds is relatively easy - they fall into categories that are logical and easy to remember and so ordered in bird books. Botany has a similar system (yes, I know about Linnaeus), but it is not so obvious, not to me anyway. Even though the mysteries of plant classification confound me I do have a treasured book which I admire for its beauty alone and the shear dedication and artistic and literary skills of its authors. Marjorie Blamey, at the age of eighty-six (circa 2003) finished painting the entire British and Irish flora with results that surpass any photography by light-years. Richard Fitter finished writing the text, which is acclaimed for its clarity, at the age of ninety-one, and Alastair Fitter, Richard's son, a professor of biology, produced UK location maps for all the plants narrowing down identification enormously. Wild Flowers of Britain and Ireland - Marjorie Blamey, Richard Fitter and Alastair Fitter is a classic.
To get to the real inspiration for this post my travails had me finding a new wild flower that had appeared in my absence in the daffodil banking. Off I rushed to consult Blamey (in absence of my understanding of the system) page by page, until identification was made. I know the flower is not rare, but it was new to me, and unfortunately it is now past its peak ("gone-over" - a wonderful euphemistic gardening phrase), but the delicacy of the green stalks with their black hairs contrasting with the richness of that burnt-orange in the flower-heads was better than munching good quality dark chocolate.
|Fox and Cubs (Pilosella aurantiaca)|