A record of wildlife in my garden and various trips to the Warwickshire countryside and occasionally further afield.
"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."
From "Auguries of Innocence"
by William Blake
Thursday, 17 May 2018
A Woodland Walk
Last Saturday D and I went to Brueton Park, Solihull, in search of Wild Garlic - one of my favourite Spring flowers especially when you find it growing over a large area.
This is the path which leads towards the local nature reserve area of the park already we could smell the garlicky/oniony smell of Wild Garlic.
You can see the River Blythe in the background of this photo.
Horse Chestnut "candles" are in flower and
the first sight of Wild Garlic.
Brueton Park can get very busy with families and dog walkers especially during the weekend but the local nature reserve part of the park is much quieter. The path we were to take through the woods is hard to find unless you know where it is and we didn't see a soul on this part of our walk. I first discovered it about 5 years ago when doing a wildflower survey for Plantlife. I was allocated a square that included Brueton Park and found on an OS map the public footpath which went straight across the square. I try and return every year in May as it is a delightful stroll.
Into the woods and Wild Garlic "paradise".
Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum) has a number of country/local names such as Ramsons, Buckrams, Broad-leaved Garlic, Bear Leek, Bear's Garlic, Gipsy's Onion and Shrinking Jenny. It is edible (although care must be taken that you are not eating the leaves of Lily of the Valley which look similar and are poisonous) and is a relative of chives. It is an indicator of ancient woodland.
The footpath follows the course of the River Blythe.
Purple Toothwort (a parasitic plant that has naturalised in Britain) still growing on the same tree trunk.
Wild Garlic with a few plants of Yellow Archangel - another indicator of ancient woodland.
It was muddy here too!
Can anyone confirm the id of the bird that this feather came from please? I have put the photo on Twitter and received a few suggestions but would love confirmation.
The footpath leaves woodland and threads between the River Blythe on one side and a big field on the other. In the past this field has been full of buttercups but only a few were in flower last Saturday.
As you walk along this stretch you can hear the rumble of traffic on the M42 which is not far away.
And so into the next wood which has more open glades and Bluebells mixed in with Wild Garlic.
Blubells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) also have other country names such as Granfer Griggles, Crowfoot, Crow Flower, Crow's Legs, Blue Trumpets, Bell Bottle, Blue Goggles, Adder Bell, Wood Bell, Ring o'Bells and Wild Hyacinth. Glue was once made from the starchy sap of the bulb and used to attach feathers to arrows. The bulbs also provided starch for Elizabethan ruffs. Bluebell juice was once used to cure snake bites! and the bells of Bluebells chime out at dawn to call fairies back to woodlands (according to folklore!).
We retraced our steps at this point.
We then decided to visit another part of the local nature reserve - Marsh Fields - where I had heard there was a good display of Cowslips.
Hawthorn is now flowering profusely everywhere.
An information board giving details of butterfly species found here - it might be worth returning in the summer.
And finally, we found the Cowslips (Primula veris.)
"And I serve the Fairy Queen
To dew her drops upon the green;
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see;
These be rubies, fairy favours:
In those freckles live their savours."
From "A Midsummer Night's Dream" William Shakespeare.
Legend suggests that the Cowslip is the flower of St Peter and the Keys of heaven. On discovering that a duplicate set of his keys had been made and that some souls were entering Heaven via a back door, St Peter was so upset that he dropped his keys which fell to earth. The key shape of the flowers was also once said to have the power to split rocks open to reveal hidden treasure.
Alternative names such as Cowplop, Cooslop and Cowslop, derive from the fact that Cowslips grow well on manured pasture land.
Other country names for the plant include Fairy Cups, Milk-maids, Fairies Flowers, Our Lady's Cushion, Galligaskins, Jackanapes on Horses and Freckled Faces. The flowers were once believed to have magical powers that would restore youth's beauty and bloom! In Medieval times they were used as a medicine to try and cure palsy and paralysis. Cowslip wine is a well-known cure for insomnia.
Centuries ago girls living in the countryside would make cowslip "balls" or posies called Tisty Tosties. They would play a game of catch with the ball singing "Cowslip ball tell me true, who shall I be married to?". The girls would shout the names of unattached local boys and if a person dropped the ball she would marry the boy whose name was last called out.
The Cowslip is the food plant of the Duke of Burgundy butterfly.
D spent ages trying to capture a photo of dandelion seeds floating away!
*D Photos taken by D with the Canon SX50 bridge camera
The rest of the photos were taken by me using the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera
Reference: "Discovering the Folklore of Plants" by Margaret Baker - Shire Publications
"Britain's Wild Flowers - a Treasure of Traditions, Superstitions, Remedies and Literature" by Rosamond Richardson - National Trust
Welcome to my blog. I have been interested in natural history from an early age and we have tried to create a garden attractive to wildlife. I also enjoy reading, photography, collecting fossils, visiting historic buildings and gardens and supporting Aston Villa. Please feel free to leave a comment and, if you would like to email me, my email address is ciraggedrobinsATgmail.com - remember to replace AT with @. Thank you for visiting.