Thursday, 1 January 2015

New Year Plant Hunt 2015 - Uckfield

The Botanical Society of the British Isles regularly runs a New Year Plant Hunt. So instead of curling up on the settee with a nice warm laptop, I spent New Year's morning hunting for wild flowers. I was rather pessimistic. After a few days of hard frosts, what would be left? I was surprised by how many flowers I found. Mostly they were the little 'weeds' that we ignore. Just for once, I paid attention to them and appreciated their quirky beauty.  There they were, battered by the weather but still standing. 

If you wish to go straight to a full list of my New Year's flowers, scroll to the bottom of the page.

Before I really started, I nipped over to Tesco Express to get a newspaper. In unregarded in-between places, such as those where a wall meets the ground and the edge of the grass nearby, I found plants of my childhood memories including groundsel and shepherd's purse.  I have vivid memories of opening the tiny purse-like seed heads with my little fingers and finding the "money" inside.

Shepherd's purse
I threaded through the twittens between the houses of our estate. On my way, I found smooth sow thistle, petty spurge and some naturalised red valerian.

Tiny green flowers of petty spurge

Turning into Lime Tree Avenue, I found a few early sprigs of cow parsley.

Cow parsley
I was a little disappointed not to find primroses blooming there but was charmed to find a wren flitting about amongst their emerging leaves and the ruby buds of lime tree twigs. Passing by Osbourne hall, a rather grandly named hut, I found daisies at the edge of the path.

I expected to find loads of flowers in the Hempstead Meadow Nature Reserve but no, just one glum looking meadowsweet. On the way out, I had a lovely encounter with two mums, with rosy cheeked toddlers on their backs, coming into the reserve for a walk. In the Waitrose car park, I had better luck, and added white deadnettle and hairy bittercress to my list.

white deadnettle
After crossing the High Street, I inspected some yarrow leaves under trees outside the main Tesco car park. I didn't find any flowers but I did find a ladybird. Further along the wall, I found the tiny flowers of common chickweed. The soft green leaves made a vivid contrast with the smooth, red brick.

Harlequin ladybird
Checking some scruffy-looking grass protected by the hedge dividing Tesco from the fire station, I found a dandelion and black medic flowers. Nearby, on the verge between the road and the pavement, the long, tussocky grass contained yarrow flowers.

Black medic.
Belmont Road takes me past the oast house and up to Holy Cross, where I find red deadnettles nestling at the church's feet. Looking up, the old walls are festooned with yellow corydalis.

Yellow corydalis in the church wall

Turning out of the church yard, I finally find some weather beaten primroses in bloom.

Heading home via the High Street I spy some stray tussocks of annual meadow grass, which have colonised out of the way nooks and crannies by the shop fronts.

Annual meadow grass.
Just past the shops, the High Street takes me past an old wall partly covered with long established clumps of naturalised corydalis and wall bellflower.

Wall bellflower.
On the way home, I passed a swathe of ivy flowers. Finally, I checked our own garden and was able to add lesser celandine and gorse to the list.

My lists

Location: Uckfield, British National Grid TQ4721

Wild flowers flowering on New Year's Day:
  • Achillea millefolium (yarrow)
  • Anthriscus sylvestris (cow parsley)
  • Bella perennis (daisy)
  • Capsella bursa-pastoris (shepherd's purse)
  • Cardamine hirsuta (hairy bittercress)
  • Euphorbia peplus (petty spurge)
  • Filipendula ulmaria (meadowsweet)
  • Hedera helix (ivy)
  • Lamium album (white deadnettle)
  • Lamium purpureum (red deadnettle)
  • Medicago Arabica (black medic)
  • Poa annua (annual meadow grass)
  • Primula vulgaris (primrose)
  • Senecio vulgaris (common groundsel)
  • Sonchus oleraceus (smooth sow-thistle)
  • Ranunculus ficaria (lesser celandine)
  • Stellaria media (common chickweed)
  • Taraxacum officinale (dandelion)
  • Ulex europaeus (gorse)
Naturalised flowers:
  • Campanula portenschlagiana (wall bellflower)
  • Centranthus ruber (red valerian)
  • Corydalis lutea (yellow corydalis)

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