Whilst a traditional flower guide sets out each part of a species for easy identification, nature has a different agenda and it's reproduction. When the flora of Scout Scar escarpment is a mass of yellows I like the challenge of recognising each distinct species before I'm close enough to be sure- from jizz which brings into play everything I've learnt along the way. At the same time, I've been looking for the perfect image to show a flower for what it is.
The early purple orchids are faded and wizened. Early, and for some time the only orchid. Tway-blades are budding and today I saw the first green-white buds of butterfly orchid. There are lesser redpoll calling, often in flight. They seem restless birds and I hear but do not see them. During the last week there were two splendid days when the sun was bright and the escarpment flora reflected it. Rock roses full-open to the sun, translucent. Now the day is cool and fresh, rain in the air. How will the flowers respond?
At this season the Scout Scar escarpment looks stunning. The limestone flora of the cliff-face has been blossoming for several weeks and now the flowers are fresh and abundant. The cliff face is rich with hoary rock rose, the pale yellow flowers opening to the bright sun. There are dense clumps of flowers right on the cliff edge, mingling with tall stems of blue moor grass. Close to the cliff-edge is common rock rose, slightly later to flower and today shot through with sunlight. I found a patch of kidney vetch and there’s horseshoe-vetch too.
I was taking every opportunity to put together a photographic archive of the flora of the verge at Ghyll Brow. I was enjoying the discovery of fresh flowers and their beauty, the sharp contrasts of colour, the intricacy of structure. In the cold and windy weather I'm always looking out for butterflies and bees, for our essential pollinators. This morning I was struck by the sheer abundance of forget-me-not , and all the emergent flowers amongst them.. If only I had taken one last photograph.
The exciting aspect of macro-photography is not knowing what I've caught until I download images onto my computer and zoom-in on them. Then they reveal pattern and detail I cannot see when I'm taking the picture. On a day like today, with a blustery wind and sunlight blotted out by clouds just as I'm thinking how to show a flower I have to concentrate on the overview and, when the sun appears, on keeping my shadow out of the image and catching the shadows it creates within the flower..
Forget taxonomy and a naming of parts. Let’s look and be curious. Let’s look into things. Today’s the day. The sun sheds light on flowers and suddenly it’s all happening. I’ve watched the flower-stem of an Ox-eye daisy shoot up from amongst the forget-me-nots, the flower-bud swelling. And this morning the flower opens fresh and new. The great things about a local patch is the overnight surprises that nature springs. I suppose keen gardeners are seeing this all the time. It’s a kind of stewardship in the wild. Keeping an eye on things.
The dramatic profile of Pen-Y-Ghent and the heather fell of Plover Hill dominated our day. The wind was cold and blustery and cloud scudded over the fells, casting them in shadow until the sun spotlit the moors. A flock of Dale Bred ewes and lambs mistook us for the farmer come to feed them. But as we prepared to set out he arrived on his quad bike with his sheepdog running after and the flock following. Marsh marigolds gave a splash of colour in wet pastures, and lapwing were rising and calling in tumbling flight.
Early June, and the Ghyll Brow flora takes on a distinctive note. All through the winter it's a seed-bank, with potential for spring and summer and I'm eager to be reacquainted. My fresh blog archive(coming July) is rather like a seed-bank, linking past and future through wildlife discovery. I hope I shall easily renew my gallery images too. I'm gathering the Ghyll Brow flowers and plan to display a range of them through the seasons.
It is 2nd June and meadow saxifrage flowers thick in the Ghyll Brow pastures.
Jan Wiltshire is a writer and naturalist living in Cumbria. She take photographs.