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Sunday, 23 August 2020

A Winwick Wildflower Wander!

Hello, hello, how are you doing?  I've had a bit of a break from my blog over the last few weeks but it's lovely to be back. 

It's strange how we seem to need some time off even when we've been at home for so long, isn't it?  How does that work?!  Anyway, here I am and I'm going to take you on a walk across the fields so that you can tell me what all of these flowers are that I don't have names for 😀

A farmer's field with a line of trees in the background and cut grass ready for baling in the foreground and reaching all the way to the trees

You wouldn't know from this photo, but this was taken on a lovely, warm day.  There was a breeze blowing that was just right and it was cool enough for the dog not to be huffing and puffing like a steam train.  We've been having to time his walks to either really early in the morning or late at night just recently as the weather has been very warm again - although now as I write this we're back to rain.  Ah, the British Summer time!

The farmers have been really busy recently and we're lucky enough to live close enough to see what goes on in the fields.  This was grass cut down to make hay bales which will, I presume, be fed to livestock later in the year.  It had only just been cut the day before when we walked along the footpath - the farmer keeps going until it's all been done so sometimes we see the tractor headlights in the distance till way past midnight - and the smell of the cut grass was wonderful!  Within a couple of days it had all gone: it was left to dry over another few sunny days and then we saw the tractors out again with their baling and wrapping machinery, working until late into the night again - and by the morning, it was as if it had never been there.  Just the stumps of the grass in the ground which are already starting to sprout again.  And it was raining, so it all happened just in time.  I know that farmers are governed by regulations about when to plant these days, but it does go to show that some things can't be dictated by political policy.  The sun shines when the sun shines.

You can tell that the seasons are passing when the blackberries start to appear in the hedgerow.  There are lots more walkers out and about these days, and I often see them up ahead when I'm out with the dog peering into the bushes for the berries.  I used to pick them every year to make blackberry and apple jelly, but we've got out of the habit of eating jam so I haven't bothered for the last couple of years.  I do see lots of it around on social media though, so it's clearly still a popular thing to do!

Ripe blackberries growing wild in the hedgerow.  In the background are leaves and foliage.

Right, this is where I need you to put your thinking caps on!  This looks a bit like form of Astrantia to me, but that's a garden perennial and not something that I'd expect to see along a footpath through a farmer's field.  What do you think?  It's pretty, isn't it?

A pretty pink and white flower head against a background of green grass

These are the seed heads of the same plant (look at the difference in the background colour - the light must have changed for a minute!)  They look like Houseleek (Sempervivum) plants on a stalk!  

Brown seed heads against a background of green leaves

And they were absolutely FULL of ladybirds, busily clambering all over the plants and not in the least bit bothered by the breeze I mentioned which was making the stems sway all over the place.

Two red ladybirds walking across brown flower seedheads

A bit further on and the next fields are full of something completely different.  The footpath goes down the middle - you can probably just about see where it splits the two fields, and if you think that it's looking very overgrown and I am going to get wet feet from the grass, you are absolutely right!  This is another reason why I wear my long trousers, woolly socks and walking boots all year round!

A footpath which goes between two fields.  On the left is a field of golden wheat and on the right is a field of green leaves.  The sky is grey

I'm not quite sure what these are in the field on the right, although I do know they are definitely not prehistoric dinosaur-sized lettuce!

Close up of the field of green leaves

I think they might be either turnips or beet, and it's possible that they're grown to feed livestock but you might know this better than me if you live on a farm.  Whatever they are, they are whoppers!  You could imagine that all those children's stories about having to have a whole line of people tugging the enormous turnip out of the field would definitely apply to these!  

Close up of the turnip (or beet) which is growing beneath the green leaves

I know what this is - this is wheat.  I love the way it ripens so that even on the same stalk you've got the green turning to gold.  That's a whole field of Weetabix right there!  Or flour, perhaps?  I always wonder what will happen to the crops that are grown in fields.  Who are they for?  Where will they go?  I could be eating bread made with flour that was milled from wheat grown right in our village, and I would never know.  

Close up of wheat ears which are both shades of green and gold, against a background of wheat

You'd think that we wouldn't need signs like these but there have been so many more people walking the footpaths since lockdown that I can understand why the farmers would be worried.  There's something very romantic about the idea of wafting your way through the long grass or the cereals, musical soundtrack in your head and the sun in your hair, and if you were to sit down you would be hidden from the world completely - but it's not possible to do that without crushing stalks which then can't be picked up by the machinery later.  I think it's easy to forget when you look at across the fields of waving stems that each one of those stems has a financial worth to the farmers and they need to earn money as much as the rest of us.  

A wooden post in a hedgerow with a blue sign nailed to it asking walkers to control their dogs

Luckily for me at this point, the path is so overgrown that the dog is contained between the field of wheat and the field of ginormous turnips so that I can look at the flowers without wondering what he's up to.  It must be very strange for him as I don't think he can even see over the top of the footpath grass, never mind across the fields - it must be like walking in a tunnel!  

These are the first flowers that I don't recognise.  They're very pretty - the palest of purples with a darker edge.

Pale purple flowers against a background of green leaves

I know this one is chamomile, also known as stinking daisy.  It really does smell quite peculiar!  I used to use chamomile flowers to make a hair rinse back in my teenage days when I didn't think that my natural colour was as glamorous as it should be, and I can remember spending what felt like endless back-breaking minutes leaning over the bathroom sink pouring jugs of brewed chamomile tea over my wet hair.  It seemed like such a good idea at the time! 

Yellow and white chamomile flowers against a background of green leaves

This one, I think, is oilseed rape, left over from a previous crop in the field.  It's such a stunning yellow colour, and I think that whole fields of this flower look amazing.  I think I might have some in my veg patch too, although that wasn't intentional, it must have blown there from the fields.

A small oilseed rape plant with yellow flowers standing on it's own in brown soil with a background of large green leaves

This was another previous crop - oats.  Those stems are so very tactile, aren't they?  There should definitely be a wafting warning on fields of these!

A stem of oats against a background of green leaves

I'm just about to head home when I spot these little thistle-like flowers.  They're not on super-spikey leaves as some thistles are - I think they might be more like the Centaurea montana that I have in the garden as they've certainly got the same type of flower head underneath the purple petals (would you call them petals when they're so pointy?).  

Small purple thistle-like flowers against a background of green leaves

It's time for me to go and take my soaking boots off (I really must buy a new pair, mine have split beyond repair at the sides) and brush the grass seeds off the dog, who is looking a bit like a peculiar hedgehog after walking along the footpath.  

Before I go, though, I've finally got something to tell you about the shortie socks pattern that I mentioned weeks and weeks ago - hooray!  I'm hoping to get it up on the blog by the end of this month (only another week to go, where has August gone?!) so that there are still a few weeks of UK Summer left for you to knit a pair, and the whole of the Summer to come on the other side of the world - I just need to persuade small daughter to put down her phone long enough to do some foot modelling for me as it's far easier when I'm not trying to take photos of my own feet!

I'll keep you posted - but it feels great to be able to tell you that I'm so very nearly there at last!

A ball of yarn in shades of blue and green, a partially-knitted sock on a circular needle and the toes of a finished sock on a background of white boards. To the right are some small cotton reel stitch markers

See you soon! xx


13 comments:

  1. I love that yarn color. Can't wait to see them on the model. My mini socks will not be finished for summer.

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  2. Thank you for another lovely walk! Sadly I am not able to be clever and enlighten you as to the identity of the unamed wildflowers - I am equally unaware of the names of most of the lovely ones I see in the woods we walk in - but they are such lovely pictures! You live in a beautiful part of the world!

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  3. Your giant lettuce?! might be celeriac. The root looks similar but I don't know what the top looks like when it's growing. Can't help with the flowers, I'm afraid, I take pictures and look in my book of wild flowers, then I forget the name!!!

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  4. Hi Christine, thank you for your lovely descriptive blog, there really is so much to see on walks wherever we are.
    The pale lilac flowers are Lady’s Smock, the thistle like flower is Knapweed (I 🤔) I have noticed that the small spiky thistles have the most lovely honey scent - worth risking a few prickles!
    All the best to you & yours xx

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  5. If the lilac flower has slim pointed leaves with slightly serrated edges it is probably sweet rocket/ hesperis matronalis. It has lots of country names.
    The purple thistle like flower is knapweed. The bees and hoverflies love it. When I wear my wildflower socks these are the flowers that i am reminded of!

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  6. Hi Christine, it’s lovely to see you after your break, you were missed! I’m clueless when it comes to plants but the turnips do look rather turnippy. I just wanted to mention Sugru to you in case you haven’t heard of it - it’s a sort of mouldable plasticine type stuff that fixes all sorts and I’ve used it on my walking boots and on a couple of small rips on my raincoat. No affiliation, I just find it really useful. xx

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  7. Your thistle is the Plumeless Thistle, or Bristle Thistle, or Nodding Thistle, or Musk Thistle. Latin name is Carduus nutans, family of the Asteraceae. I have no idea what they call it in England, but New Jersey (USA) has these names for it.
    And your beets are probably sugar beets. Food that they served the animals in the Netherlands. In the eastern part of the Netherlands. I remember going through fields of them. When they were smaller we pulled them sometime and ate them on our way to lower school.

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  8. Pink flowered plant I think is Wild Radish.

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  9. It is lovely to hear from you again! I was worried that you may not be very well! Such an interesting walk with you through the countryside.

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  10. They look like sugar beet.
    H

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  11. Just catching up with your posts. I really enjoy all the photos of the countryside! Of course, I love your knitting goodies, too. Thanks for posting!

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  12. welcome back!
    no idea on the names of those very interesting looking flowers! sorry! did thoroughly enjoy the walk with the you though!
    can't wait to see the socks finished, yay
    great post
    thanx for sharing

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  13. My first time reading your message. It brought back special memories of my walks with my Basset hound back in Maryland. I used to pick one of each flower and put them in a flower press. I miss those times so you savor each one you take. Happy Trails!

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