logo

A Wildflower Walk…

 

Our walk begins, surrounded by Cow Parsley

The Waterland team herd wait patiently(ish) as I try to photograph and identify wildflowers on our walk…

One of the reasons I wanted to write this blog was to encourage myself to take the time to learn about the life and landscapes around me on the Norfolk Broads.  So, over the Bank Holiday weekend we took to the river and sailed to How Hill.  Once there we headed out on the footpaths and country lanes that criss cross the landscape between Ludham and Sharp Street.  I wanted to photograph the different types of wildflower that we found, and try to find out what they were, and learn a little about them.  Here’s what we found and my attempt at naming them…

Cow Parsley...

A country track lined with Cow Parsley

A country track lined with Cow Parsley

As we begin our walk it’s clear that the most common wild flower we are going to see is Cow Parsley.  These are the white flowers you can see all along the verge in the above photo.  It’s everywhere at this time of year and makes the landscape feel very summery.

Lady’s Bedstraw…

Lady’s Bedstraw amongst the Cow Parsley on a footpath near How Hill

We soon came across this patch of striking yellow in amongst the Cow Parsley.  There is some fascinating folklore about this wild flower.  A German legend says that this plant was used by Mary when giving birth to Jesus.  It was also believed to give magical protection to women who had just given birth.  They were thought to be more at risk from attacks by demons and so did not enter any strange houses without some Lady’s Bedstraw in their shoes!  Dried Bedstraw was also used as stuffing for mattresses.  Presumably this is where the name originates from.

Red and White Campion…

Red Campion is a common wildflower along the roads and verges of Broadland

Red Campion is a common wildflower along the roads and verges of Broadland

White Campion, much scarcer than Red Campion

White Campion, much scarcer than Red Campion

Sometimes on it’s own, and sometimes in quite dense clusters, we found quite a lot of Red Campion, which really brightens up the countryside. Often in close proximity to Buttercups, the late Spring landscape feels alive with colour.  Much less common, we also found some White Campion, which as the name suggests is part of the same family, but.. err… white.

Hawthorn…

Hawthorn is everywhere in Norfolk during Norfolk. Look closely, and it's beautiful...

Hawthorn is everywhere in Norfolk during May. Look closely, and it’s beautiful…

I’m not sure if Hawthorn is actually a wildflower, but there is so much of it at the moment and, when I actually stop to look at it, it’s amazingly beautiful, with variations in petal and stamen colour.

Greater Stitchwort…

Great Stitchwort lis a common Norfolk wildflower

Great Stitchwort is a common Norfolk wildflower

We didn’t travel very far before coming across Greater Stitchwort and found it quite often along our route.  If not paying attention, it could almost seem like a patch of daisies by the verge but on closer inspection, these are very different and truly lovely flowers.

A closeup of a Greater Stitchwort wildflower

A closeup of a Greater Stitchwort wildflower

Stitchworts were used to ease pains, such as the stitch!  I suppose that must be where they got their name? Apparently the Greater Stitchwort releases it’s seed with a popping noise.  What stunning looking little flowers…

 

Buttercup…

A insect visits a Buttercup

A insect visits a Buttercup

In the wet, marshy terrain around the Norfolk Broads, there are Buttercups everywhere, adding a sprinkling of golden yellow to the landscape.  Even I knew to recognise a Buttercup – but I have no idea what the alien looking insect visiting one was.  I think I saw a bigger version of one of these in the film ‘Independence Day’!

Buttercups and Red Campions line the footpaths near the River Ant

Buttercups and Red Campions line a footpath near the River Ant

Germander Speedwell…

Green Alkanet, a pretty and delicate wildflower

Germander Speedwell, a pretty and delicate wildflower

We saw this  pretty wildflower growing very low in roadside verges.   Partially covered by long grass, if I hadn’t been looking for wildflowers, I probably wouldn’t even have noticed it.  It seemed relatively common and grew in patches with several dozen flowers.  Because it grew lower than grass height, it was quite difficult to photograph.

It was believed to cure scurvy and inflammations and also help with indigestion.  It is also said to bring good luck to travellers.  It’s name seems quite appropriate to either!

 

Yellow Iris…

Yellow Iris is commonly seen along the river

Yellow Iris is commonly seen along the river

Yellow Iris found on the banks of the River Ant

Yellow Iris found on the banks of the River Ant

If I had been out for a walk and not been thinking about wildflowers,  I might have seen these in the corner of my eyes and thought they were late flowering Daffodils.  However, even a brief look soon shows them to be very different.  We saw just a few Yellow Iris on our walk, but spotted them regularly once back on the river aboard Grey Goose III. They seem to need to be near water and one very marshy looking meadow we passed had quite a lot growing in it.

Oxeye Daisy…

Daisy family

Oxeye Daisy

 

Near the end of our walk, we came across a group of Oxeye Daisies.  Much larger and growing considerably taller than normal daisies, these are impressive flowers.  One was being visited but I couldn’t quite get the picture in focus as the wind was blowing the daisy around quite a lot.

I came for the Pollen...

I came for the Nectar…

 

Broad Leaved Willowherb…

The Broad Leaved Willowherb was a rarer find on our walk

 I had no idea what this was, but wondered if it might be part of the pink family.  However I later found out it is (I think!) a Broad Leaved Willowherb.  This wildflower apparently can be eaten with a salad, but is slightly toxic, which seems a strange mix.  It’s also considered good at stemming bleeding, so if I had fallen over taking the picture, at least I was in the right place!  Apparently it is named after it’s petals similarity with the leaves of a Willow tree.

Green Alkanet…

Green Alkanet

Green Alkanet

I had no idea what this was, thinking perhaps it part of the Forget-me-not family.  However, thanks to the amazing apps you can buy for mobile phones, I was soon able to identify it as the Green Alkanet.  A strange name for a blue wildflower.  Some further research revealed that this petite flower was once used to produce dyes and can be a problem for gardeners.  I was pleased to see it’s vivid blues along the lanes.

I love walking along the rivers and marshes of the Broads, but for the first time I actually stopped and took notice of what was around me.  It made me think of a quote from Alan Watts…

I’ll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.

Well, perhaps I’m not quite connected to everything yet, but I can now recognise about ten wildflowers that I would have had no idea about before today, so it’s a start!

Not Wildflowers, but very colourful…

I thought I’d include these two pictures.  Although not wildflower related.  I don’t know what the flower is in the bottom photo, but I assume it is a garden flower, rather than a wildflower…

A private garden overlooking the River Ant at How Hill

A private garden overlooking the River Ant at How Hill

A small bee visits a garden flower

A small bee visits a garden flower


  • Share

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *