‘ We have something rare. Come and see, if you’d like to.’
On a south-facing slope In the short turf at our feet the flowers of Autumn gentian amongst dark linear leaves. Not spectacular like Alpine gentian. but small and intricate and – being hard to find- the more precious. Felwort, a plant of the fells. Flowers seek pollinators so when light and temperature fall low, like today, their strategy is to close up petals to safeguard nectar and pollen until it's brighter and insects are out foraging. ‘Dull purple, blue, pink or whitish’ writes botanist Marjorie Blamey in her ‘Flora of Britain and Northern Europe.’
A couple calls to ask what we have found. We tell them and turn back to search the short turf to relocate the flowers and show them.
We move on, still searching, and stop to consider the largest of the plants, a couple of inches tall, branched and full of flower buds. A dog appears and trots toward it. Its young owner sees what is happening and he immediately puts it on a lead, then comes to look at Autumn gentian. Today, we take pleasure in introducing a field of folk to Autumn gentian. It’s like an impromptu field-trip. Seeing me kneeling in reverence on the grass taking photographs, they’re curious and they come flocking. We value curiosity, we like to learn and share, so we have fun.
To Sue R. If you need further directions on where to find them, contact me.