Saturday, 7 January 2017

New Year Plant Hunt 2017 - Uckfield

For a number of years, the Botanical Society of the British and Ireland have been running a New Year Plant Hunt. I've taken part in 2015, 2016 and again this year.  I didn't expect much because we have had some proper winter weather in the run up to the plant hunt.  Some of our own garden regulars such as Gorse and Lesser Celandine were not showing any signs of flower.

This year, I started the hunt from the new seat in front of the shops in Browns Lane, which was installed by the Manor Park and Hempstead Fields Residents Association.

Start - Outside Browns Lane shops at 9:30, 2nd January.
If you wish to go straight to a full list of my New Year's flowers, scroll to the bottom of the page.  This year my list comprised 23 flowering plants, compared to 34 last year. I had a sense this year of normal service being resumed after last year's bumper list.  This time there were no proper spring flowers such as Wild Primroses or Cowslips and few summer stragglers.

As usual, I started by walking through twittens on Manor Park. I didn't find as many wild flowers as usual. Maybe this was because 2016's odd weather encouraged thick grass growth. This had two effects: First, the grass competed out the wild flowers that usually grow along the edges of paths, and second, people had cleared away the vegetation, which had become a nuisance. I did find the ever-reliable Groundsel and Petty Spurge. Groundsel was the 2nd most frequently recorded flower on the plant hunt's lists.

Groundsel - 2nd most recorded flower
I moved on to the sunny corner where Southview Drive meets Beeches Close and found Ivy still in flower as well as some Yarrow.

Ivy flowers
At the top of the town, I managed to find a little Wall Bellflower in bloom but nothing like the numbers of flowers I had seen in previous years. The church walls also yielded very little - just some clumps of Common Field Speedwell, with tiny blue flowers. However, I had better luck in the car park, with a neat clump of Sweet Violets.

Sweet Violets
I didn't find anything in Belmont Lane. In a change from last year's route, I walked along the path that runs parallel to the bypass. Although I didn't see any flowers I was delighted to spot a Tree Creeper in a splendid old oak. Once I had reached the Meads Doctors' Surgery, I crossed the road to the Bellbrook Industrial Estate. This is new to my route and yielded some wild flowers that I had never recorded before.  One was Annual Mercury.

Annual Mercury
Another, the Guernsey Fleabane, is one that I had seen in various places but had never previously got round to identifying.

Guernsey Fleabane
After exploring the industrial estate (and surprising three Pheasants) I hurried to the warmth of the Station Pub.  After a break and glass of wine, I hurried back home to catch a few final stragglers before I ran out of time.  These included a Daisy, just across the road from where I live and a bedraggled Dog Violet in my own garden.

Daisy - On more lists than any other flower.

The Science Bit

Location: Uckfield, East Sussex.  Start point: TQ478219

What was missing?

Flowers that I had seen in both 2015 and 2016 but were missing this year were:
  • Wild Primroses
  • Cowslips
  • Yellow Corydalis (on the church walls)
  • White Deadnettle
  • Black Medick.

21 Wild Plants Flowering on 2nd January 2017

Achillea millefolium Yarrow
Bellis perennis Daisy
Capsella bursa-pastoris Shepherd's Purse
Cardamine hirsuta Hairy Bittercress
Centranthus ruber  Red Valerian
Conyza sumatrensis Guernsey fleabane New in 2017
Corylus avellana Hazel
Euphorbia peplus Petty Spurge
Hedera helix  Ivy
Lamium purpureum Red Dead-nettle
Mercurialis annua      Annual Mercury New in 2017
Poa annua  Annual Meadow Grass
Senecio vulgaris  Groundsel
Sonchus oleraceus Smooth Sow-thistle
Stellaria media Common Chickweed
Taraxacum officinale Dandelion
Ulex europaeus Gorse
Urtica dioica Common nettle New in 2017
Veronica persica Common Field Speedwell New in 2017
Viola odorata Sweet Violet
Viola riviniana Dog Violet

2 Naturalised Plants Flowering on 2nd January 2017

Bergenia cordifolia  Elephants ears New in 2017
Campanula portenschlagiana  Wall Bellflower


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