Saturday, 30 August 2014

Strange Bindweeds and unusual wildlife sites

Calystegia silvatica var quinquepartita
Image: S. Hawkins
BSBI member Steve Hawkins saw the post on Strange Bindweeds and emails to say "I don't get out much nowadays, but I've seen a good patch of Calystegia silvatica var quinquepartita along the River Lea, near Walthamstow, and in a few other places. Here is a photograph from Stockwood Park, in Luton from a couple of years ago.

"The patch by the Lea was so attractive that I took a root cutting, hoping to get it to grow as a native alternative to clematis in the garden, but, true to form, weeds never grow where you want them to! I was a bit late coming upon the Stockwood Park patch, and there were not many flowers on it by then, but I still think it is a greatly unappreciated and beautiful wild variety.  

Betony at Stockwood
Image: S. Hawkins
"Stockwood is also one of very few places in this region where there is a nice patch of Betony, and there are some unusual trees dotted around the golf course too.  Not somewhere you would immediately think of for wildlife sites, but very photogenic when the light is right.  Rather sadly being encroached by horrendous earthworks just for a new motorway junction fly-over at the moment, to get people to the airport five minutes earlier!  

"However, as I was dumbstruck on seeing the state of what was once a beautiful meadow scene on the 'gateway' to Luton, I could not help thinking that most of the interesting plants these days seem to be the ones that grow on the inaccessible sides of motorways and, for a season or two, this newly exposed soil will be a riot of Spring flowers, and probably more interesting than the enriched fields were.

Bay Willows Salix pentandra around the Golf Course
Image: S. Hawkins
"Another unusual plant that I was kicking myself for not taking a cutting of, was a blue common mallow, that I once saw at Aldeburgh, where it was likely to be strimmed away by the road.  The only blue one I've seen." 

Thanks to Steve for sharing his views and plant observations with us. His closing comment was "Always good to read your posts, though it does make me rather jealous of what I'm missing!" This prompts me to remind any botanist who doesn't get out much any more - due to ill-health, pressures of work, caring responsibilities or not being as young as we once were - that you can still share your botanical views and any interesting plants you've recorded over the years here on the News & Views page.