Thursday, 2 July 2009

Beauty (and a beast) in the hedgerow

The old track between Kingsdown and St Margaret's is full of summer flowers now, and the wayfaring tree even hints at the hedgerow berries to come. It's a shame that the lane has been metalled, as I find it a joy to walk along a blindingly-white chalk track in the midday sun.
The yellow lady's bedstraw is joining the white hedge bedstraw in flower, tumbling and gushing over the verge, mixing with knapweed, agrimony, yarrow, restharrow and vetch to give a beautiful palette of colour. Quite gorgeous.
Occasionally a drift of meadow cranesbill lights up the verdant greens - I thought it was common as I've seen them here and along the motorway....but in fact the Atlas shows it in few other places in Kent.
Also blooming marvellously, a bloody cranesbill, but this might well be an escapee.
Goatsbeard - flower and seedhead

Pellitory of the wall - an impressive name for an insidious weed in the garden, but looks good close up.Numerous-spotted ladybird


Also in the tangle of the hedgerow are many nettles - beasts that hurt when you touch them, aren't they?
Or maybe not? When I were a nipper, we knew that nettles that had flowered did not sting, and so with my customary bravery I tested out the old theory - and indeed it is the case. Well, you learn the hard way when you are young.
More intriguingly, however, it was pointed out (thanks Mel!) that there was a variety of nettle in this hedgerow with narrower leaves and light-green stems that seemed to have many fewer stinging bristles, and although they had not yet flowered they did not sting. They were, in fact, almost furry. Nettles are notoriously variable, but does anyone have any ideas on this?
Plenty of barley sown around here this year - also rather furry to the touch.


Anonymous said...

Fan-blooming-tastic! The downland track in summer - what better place to be?

DOT said...

I remember as a child the dare was to put a nettle leaf on your tongue. I forget now, but there was a technique that ensured no stings.

Warren Baker said...

Brilliant hedgerow shots. just how a hedge should look.
I'm getting a bit worried about your ''furry'' fetish now though. :-)

Kingsdowner said...

Warren, one of the problems with ornithology is that it satisfies a limited number of senses....smell, taste and touch are rarely satisfied (although roast wood pigeon hits the spot!)

DoT - you're raising the bar there, but I'll bear the challenge in mind. Actually, having spent much of the day in the dentist's chair, a numbed mouth would have helped.

Rob, don't you just love it!

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve
Am back on sandstone in Beds now, but inspired by the stunning chalkland flora I have seen this last week am detouring on way to a birthday party tommorrow to scamper over the Pegsdon Hills.
I am still intrigued by this cuddly nettle and will send pictures (yours are beter than mine) to Wicken expert to see what he thinks. Certainly the stems were 'downy' and lacked those longer, coarser stinging hairs on other Urticas. Will keep you informed.
Fabulous photos - I so enjoyed walking up and down this lane - it is quite stunning.

Mary said...

Lovely roadside flowers! Such a nice variety of colors.