A Type of Mallow

There are various types of wild Mallow. This low growing one amongst the tall grasses, the Ladies’ Bedstraw and budding Wild Marjoram in the Charlton Down Nature Reserve is, I think, Musk-mallow (Malva moschata). There are only one or two plants there tucked well down in the herbage. Let me know if you think it is something different, please..

Holm Oak 2

It is that time of year again, and our splendid Holm Oak, also known as an Evergreen Oak, is in flower by the village hall in Charlton Down. It loses leaves at any time throughout the year, and so it is not unusual for dead leaves to carpet the ground beneath the tree while new leaves and flowers appear in the canopy.

The species was first introduced in the 1500’s from the Eastern Mediterranean. Although it is not adapted as much as our native oaks, it supports plenty of our wildlife. A good tree for surviving hot and dry summers, but not so good at coping with severe frosts and cold. That’s why it mostly grows on the coast and in Southern England.

Maybe we should all be thinking of planting more sun-loving and drought tolerant trees and shrubs around Greenwood House to allow for the fact that weather patterns are changing. I think that future generations would be grateful to inherit plants that withstand the warmer climate and need less intensive management and watering. (There are lots of much smaller options than this magnificent tree).

Bladder Campion 2

The Bladder Campion flowers are doing very well this year in the hedgerow close to the allotments.

Spring Flowers at Charlton Down

Images from a walk around my Dorset village this late Spring (7th May). Sycamore, field maple, copper beech, ash, oak and chestnut were in flower. Shrubbier plants like hawthorn, holly, wayfarer, and guelder rose were blossoming in hedgerows. Dandelions gone to seed already, with daisies, self heal, blue speedwell, red clover, and chickweed flourishing where the lawns have not been cut for “no mow May”. Bog bean flowers surviving in the muddy margins of our fast-shrinking pond. And the white froth of cow parsley in great abundance everywhere.

Hedgerow Ivy Flowers

One of the most abundant sources of nectar and pollen at the moment – when most of our common wild flowering plants are already producing seeds, berries, and nuts – ivy is in full flower attracting clouds of bees, hover flies, and other winged pollinators.

Numerous pollinating insects on ivy flowers

Autumn Silhouettes 1

Thistle flowers going to seed, Hawthorn berries, and Blackberries in the hedgerows, and flowering Stinging Nettles in the fields, on the first official day of Autumn in Charlton Down.

Arable Weeds 5 – Nipplewort

This flower I am not a hundred percent certain about the identification but I think it is Nipplewort (Lapsana communis). It certainly is a common yellow flowered plant and is not confined to this particular habitat in the strip of arable weeds that I have been investigating. There are so many similar yellow flowered plants that I am never absolutely certain what they are. Anyway, this is my best attempt. If you know better, please do let me know.

Nipplewort is said to have useful medicinal and culinary properties.

You can click on an image to enlarge it and view in a gallery.

Arable Weeds 4 – White Campion

White Campion (Silene latifolia) occurs all over the place around Charlton Down and is more commonly found in hedgerows and verges, but there were a few among the Common Poppies and wealth of other types of arable weeds in the uncultivated border of a maize field. The white flowers stood out among the greens, reds, yellows and blues 0f other native wild plants with which they are intertwined.

Down by the River

View looking north along the Cerne Valley from the river as it flows near Charlton Down. The river banks still look lush in comparison with the brown fields around which have recently been harvested or ploughed. The field peas in the adjacent field were noisily being cut and garnered by the machine as I took this picture yesterday, 20th August 2021.

Click on image to enlarge it.

Arable Weeds 3 – Scarlet Pimpernel

The Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) is one of those beautiful little wild flowers which seem utterly familiar, and makes me think of early childhood days and spending long hours out of doors in the garden. In a way, it is surprising that there were any weeds at all in our garden because Dad was out every day hoeing the soil to prevent anything establishing itself among the rows of vegetables and fruit bushes. Control was the name of the game. But we lived next to an open field, and intruders were bound to come in despite his control measures. Scarlet Pimpernel has dainty and colourful flowers which in reality are usually a pinkish orange but with a darker red centre (the petals can even be blue). Seeing these tiny flowers scrambling over the bare chalky soil in Charlton Down fields somehow makes me feel the same way that I did as a child discovering the natural world in a way that was mixed with fantasy and dreams.