Today’s guest picture shows the rose garden in Regents Park. It was taken by my sister Mary.
The plan for the day was a visit to Maryport on the west coast of Cumbria following a suggestion from our friend Sue that we might enjoy a day out with a wild flower expert who runs courses for those interested in such things.
The forecast was for such bad weather that first thing in the morning, Sue rang up to check whether we thought that it was a good idea to go or not but we were in a devil may care mood and laughed at rain and gales so it was decided that we should go.
We picked up Sue and her friend Helen in Longtown and drove to Maryport, grateful that the rain hadn’t started.
There we met up with Stuart, our guide and suitably dressed for the middle of summer in Cumbria…
…we set off on a flower hunt.
There was a scientific purpose for the walk as well as education for us as Stuart was recording the flowers and plants that we saw for the record.
Although the wind was very strong it had the effect of sweeping the clouds away and the weather was not too bad as we set out.
We were in an area of grassy dunes immediately behind the shoreline and it wasn’t long before the first sightings were made and the first records written down.
Stuart was an excellent guide and we had seen more wild flowers in ten minutes than I would have seen in a whole day if I had been left to myself.
I would say at this point that if any reader doesn’t care for wild flowers at all, the best thing to do would be to skip to the bottom of the post now, click the LIKE button and find something better to do.
There was silverweed and rattle and a host of vetches, grasses, hawkweeds, clovers, umbellifers and plaintains to discover. Who knew that there were so many different sorts of these, sometimes only identifiable by the tiniest difference in a sepal of a petal formation.
There turned out to be a lot of wild carrot about. That’s it on the right above. I would never have known that the wild carrot has a tiny dark flower in the centre of the circle of white but once seen, it was easy to pick them out as we went round.
Readers are lucky that the wind was so strong that taking pictures was always hard work and often impossible, otherwise there would have been hundreds of pictures in today’s post.
The recorders were hard at work, checking for smooth or rough stems, paired or alternate leaves, green or glaucous colouring and many other details.
Magnifying glasses were produced to show tiny glands on the end of leaves and petals splitting into two. I would never have noticed that some grasses don’t have ears on the back of the stem….
…or that there were such things as kidney vetches so it was a continuously interesting excursion.
There were even passing trains along the coastal line to spot.
Even I can recognise an orchid…
…though I don’t think that I have ever knowingly seen a pyramidal orchid like this one before. The photo doesn’t do justice to the very rich colour of these flowers.
Once we had got our orchid eye in, we saw these all over the place. There were more common orchids too…
….and there were wild parsnips nearby which were new to me.
As well as flowers, we saw a lot of six spot burnet moths…
Stuart held this one up for me to snap. His record book (with waterproof paper!) forms the background. There were sometimes several on the same plant and Stuart thinks that they were newly emerged. This one went safely back onto a flower.
I had never met goats beard before…
…which have little yellow flowers and produce striking seed clocks.
After about two hours of fun, the call of lunch became strong and the clouds looked a bit threatening down the coast…
…so stopping only to admire some wild radish and two red soldier beetles on an umbellifer….
..we headed for our cars and got there just in time to avoid a thorough soaking from an intense rain shower. This conveniently lasted for as long as our lunch and after lunch, we set out again, this time sticking closer to the shore for the first part of our walk.
This meant that the wind was even stronger than when we had been behind the dunes before lunch but the reward was a very handsome sea holly. It was one of a pair of prickly things that we met along with a fine spear thistle.
The sea holly was beautiful.
…and would have been worth the journey on its own.
Still, there was lots more to see beside the sea, including this very structural little plant…
…whose name I learned and forgot.
Although the weather was often threatening to south and north along the coast…
….we were very lucky and showers passed us by and for much of the time, we walked and searched in sunshine.
We found colourful patches of wild thyme and lady’s bedstraw, many more pyramidal and spotted orchids and dozens more wild flowers and grasses.
I particularly enjoyed seeing two of the highlights of the day in one place.
Our walk took us up to the edge of the harbour at Maryport….
… and the clouds cleared enough to let us see the Solway Array of windmills planted in the middle of the firth.
You can see the Scottish side in the background.
Nevertheless, an increasing build up of black clouds hastened our footsteps back to the car and once again we got back just as the rain started. We had been exceptionally lucky with the weather as the combination of wind and rain when it came would have discouraged me from spending more than two minutes looking at wild flowers let alone the four hours that we actually spent.
It was a great tribute to Stuart that ignorant as I am about nature, I found the whole outing interesting from first to last. I just wish that I still had the capacity to remember things that I learn. I found it so easy to remember things when I was young that it is rather galling to find out how hard it is now. All the same, my eyes will be a lot more open the next time I walk among some sea side grasslands.
We had a lovely drive home, taking the longer route along the coast back to Carlisle and the sun came out as we went along so that the Solway plain looked at its best.
We dropped Sue and Helen off at Longtown and got home very tired and very happy.
This being the first Saturday of the month, our trip meant that I had had to miss the producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre which was a blow. Very fortunately for me, my Friday night Orchestra, Alison did some shopping for me and she procured me very satisfactory supplies of meat, fish, honey and cheese. I picked them up when we got back and what with that and a quick look round our garden in the evening sunlight…
…it was the end of one of those days which is emphatically entered on the credit side of the great ledger of life.
The flying bird of the day is several sparrows. (I didn’t have any time for better.)