Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Purple patches on the Devil's Dyke

On Saturday evening we strolled along the Devil's Dyke, you may have seen Silverpebble's post about the morning stroll from her cottage to the western end of the Dyke. We live nearer to the eastern end of the 7.5 mile Saxon ditch and bank, near the precious site where the Pasqueflowers (pulsatilla vulgaris) grow. Were they blooming once again? I blogged about them last year on 19th April, then there were many healthy plants; this year the plants are smaller from lack of moisture and many flowers are yet to open.

On the south facing chalk bank, in little scrapes made by the local bunnies, there were clusters of the purple flowers, they looked as if they were sheltering from the cold evening breeze.


Up close you can see the petals, sepals and stalk are covered with soft downy hairs.


The Pasqueflower wasn't the only purple patch on the grassy bank. Here is another special flower that is rare in our part of the world, the Hairy Violet (viola hirta). It is unscented and flowers slightly later than the Sweet Violet, it also likes to grow in open grassy places rather than shady hedgerows. The Hairy Violet makes beautiful tuffets of bright green leaves and blue-mauve flowers.


Ground Ivy (glechoma hederacea) is a common plant, we have lots in our lawn! On the Devil's Dyke the plants are stunted and nestle in the turf. It is a potent (and toxic) herb and over the centuries has been used to treat many conditions, it was used to curdle milk for cheese making and in Saxon times Ground Ivy leaves were used to add a bitter note to beer – that's a good a reason as any to find it growing on a Saxon defensive earthwork. The flowers have beautiful speckled throats and the leaves take on a rusty redness when they grow on the thin dry chalk soil.


This final purple splash is tiny, so teeny weeny you need to be very observant to spot it . . . Milkwort (glaux vulgaris). I had to crawl down the precipitous bank and cling on with my toes to take this photo! It's an exquisitely pretty flower that has a clean fresh appearance, the colour varies from white, pink and mauve to blue. This one reminded me of the pure blue pigments use on medieval illuminated manuscript pages.

16 comments:

  1. A glorious post Celia - botany and history - always a delightful mix! I think I may have read recently that Devil's Dyke is one of the few places in the UK where the Pasqueflowers grow - or am I imagining that? They are incredibly beautiful - how lucky you are to see them.

    Jeanne
    x

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  2. I love the name, Devil's Dyke. It must be a beautiful place to visit ~ anywhere pasqueflowers are blooming is beautiful. The ones in my garden are just about to bloom. I love them. Ground ivy seems to be everywhere. One of my neighbours has a lawn that is mostly ground ivy. It looks gorgeous when in bloom.

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  3. Devil's Dyke is a very special place. Is it actually an SSSI? I bought a white pasque flower this spring and hope it will like my soil.

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  4. ooh I really must walk along Devil's Dyke again, I haven't been along it since I was a child. What beautiful blooms there are in your photos.

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  5. It's so much fun to be able to go on this walk with you! Thank you for all those marvelous close-up photos of the tiny little flowers, and for the great information about them.

    This post is quite a gem. xo

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  6. Hi Jeanne - you're right, Pasqueflowers are rare in the wild, only found in 23 sites in the UK.

    Hi Kate - a lawn of Ground Ivy, the bees must love that!

    Hi Threadspider - The Devil's Dyke is a SSSI and a SAC - it's very special indeed!

    Hi Scented Sweetpeas - you must! it's not far from where you live and the views are beautiful.


    Celia
    x

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  7. Hi Frances - our comments crossed mid-Atlantic! There are more special flowers I have yet to find - I'll be searching for them in late June ;-)

    Celia
    x

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  8. Hi Celia - as I mentioned last year I have some seed for pasqueflowers. Remind me of your address - to the email on my blog - if you'd like some. They are better sown fresh - I can let you have this years in a week or two.

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  9. Hi Veg Heaven - that's very kind of you, however I haven't had success with Pasqueflowers in our garden. I think I'll leave them to grow naturally on the dry chalk slopes - something my garden lacks!

    Best wishes
    Celia

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  10. What a lovely walk, thank you for taking me with you. Those flowers are so beautiful

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  11. Just a thimbleful....


    As always, a fascinating post and superb photographs! You must have a very steady hand as well as a good camera. Just caught up with the demise of poor Ruby, why do we get so fond of our pets? It hurts so much to lose them.

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  12. I'm always amazed at what grows wild, such delicate yet hardy flowers, fascinating. Thank you Celia. Love Vanessa xxx

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  13. Purple prose I think! Lovely x

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  14. oddly enough I have just returned form walking the dog with a friend; neither of us could remember the name for ground ivy!

    I have never seen Pasqueflowers growing wild. I tried it in our garden but it bit the dust.

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  15. I love pasque flowers and the ones I planted last year are flowering again in the side garden. They may not be huge but I think they will settle. I would love some seed. Do you think Vegetable heaven would mind?

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  16. Hi Toffeeapple - I love places that you get to know really well over the years.

    Hi Mavis - thank you. Our camera is just a modest point and click digital with a macro setting. I learnt to use the speed shoot setting too to get over hand shake when doing close ups.

    Hi Vanessa - all wildflowers are so special and well worth a close look.

    Hi Penny - I get carried away when I ramble on about plants ;-)

    Hi Acornmoon - Pasqueflowers are fussy - I've decided to enjoy them in the special secret places that the choose for themselves.

    Hi Elizabethm - drop Veg Heaven a line - she won't bite!



    Celia
    x

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