View from Wood Hill 4

Wood Hill overlooks Charlton Down to the north, Charminster Down to the west, Charminster village to the south, and Charlton Higher Down to the east. On the north side of the hill closest to Charlton Down, small numbers of livestock such as cattle, sheep, and horses are grazed on the slopes.

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View from Wood Hill 3

One of the two public footpaths from my village of Charlton Down to the next village of Charminster, that lies further south, passes over the top of Wood Hill. On the top of the hill is a group of trees called Wood Hill Clump. The path goes around the trees, and after navigating the stile (or ‘kissing gate’), you see a completely different kind of view across a field of ripe wheat towards Charminster, the developing town of Poundbury, and the hills beyond.

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View from Wood Hill 2

There are gorgeous panoramic views of the village and surrounding countryside from the top of Wood Hill just to the south of Charlton Down in Dorset. This is the view from near the top of the slope looking east towards Charlton Higher Down, which I have managed to reach several times in the past pandemic year. It is the place marked by a Bronze Age barrow that I featured in an earlier post. There is also one hidden from view in a thicket of brambles in the field below the gate in this picture. When the burial sites were new and covered in white chalk over three thousand years ago, they must have really stood out in the landscape and been seen for miles around.

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Arable Weeds 3 – 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.

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Arable Weeds 3 – 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.

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Arable Weeds 2 – 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.

Arable Weeds 1 – Common Field-speedwell

Common Field-speedwell (Veronica persica) grows on bare soil, cultivated arable fields and disturbed ground. It has a prostrate form, spreading horizontally over the ground surface. The small blue flowers will be a familiar sight to many, and it is part of the lowest growing of wild flowers in the plant association that characterises unsown field margins, almost forming a ground cover mat in some places..

Harvest 1

The farmers are busy harvesting the fields in the dry spells between the rain. The noise of the combine harvesters, trucks and tractors can be heard most days recently while they gather in the crops. Yesterday I saw people hard at work gathering the barley in the early evening. It was dull but dry and the occasional shaft of low sun transformed the view.

Arable Weeds – Common Fumitory

I have recently discovered a strip of cultivated field that has been left deliberately unplanted. It has been colonised by a wonderful array of wild plants that fall into the habitat category of arable weeds. They may have been seeded by the farmer but I think it could be a natural development. The more you look, and the closer you look, the more you see. There is a tremendous diversity of species. Many are completely new to me. I am having fun trying to photograph the different types and identify them. Unfortunately, this is not so easy if you are unable to kneel or crouch and are reliant on the camera zoom. Some flowers are minute. Anyway, here is the first picture and it shows the pink flowers of Common Fumitory (Fumaria officinalis).