Sunday, 27 August 2017

Holy Cross Churchyard Plant Survey - End of August

On the 26th of August, I did the fourth and final visit of the Sussex Botanical Recording Society's Churchyard survey. Although Fuchsia is a cultivated plant and doesn't count for this survey, it was lovely to see the bright red flowers dripping over the side of the Churchyard wall and buzzing with honeybees.

Holy Cross Church, Uckfield
One of many honeybees on the Fuchsia
As I went in I heard sounds overhead and looked up at a group of House Martins dipping and diving as they hunted their insect prey. Going into the churchyard itself, I noticed that it was loud with birdsong.  The star of this little show was a Robin that seemed to follow me around as I looked for plants.

After the previous Sunday's service Mum had brought home a piece of unusual-looking grass for me to identify.  After 20 minutes scrabbling through books and Googling, I identified it as Cockspur (Echinochloa crus-galli)

Cockspur, between the old and new brick paths.
I found dozens of plants, lining both sides of the lovely old brick path that goes from East to West across the churchyard.

Detail of Cockspur flower head.
Towards the South end of the Churchyard I found a beautifully carved headstone.

1880 headstone.
On one of the old graves, I found a clump of Reflexed Stonecrop (Sedum rupestra).

Reflexed Stonecrop.
The ever-irrepressible Dandelion (Taraxacum) flowers held their heads high above the neatly mown grass, providing a feast for pollinators such as Hoverflies.

Two different species of Hoverfly on one Dandelion flower.
In the miniature world of the short grass, I found another new species for my list.

Small Flowered Cranesbill (Geranium pusillum).
While I was trying to identify this, a lady stopped and asked what I was doing. I told her about the survey and we chatted about wildflowers and walks, then she went on her way. 

I found my last 'new entry' near the war memorial. It is Canadian Fleabane (Conyza Canadensis). The tiny petals have a slight lilac tinge.

Canadian Fleabane
Canadian Fleabane - tiny petals tinged with lilac.
It is a strange and poignant coincidence that the Canadian Fleabane should appear next to the War Memorial. During the Second World War, the 1st Battalion Argyll and Sutherlands Highlanders of Canada was stationed in Uckfield for about a year.  The BBC article, Lorne - The Canadian Soldier, tells Peter Hunter's personal account of one of the soldiers. Another of the Canadian soldiers, Private Lyall Wright Wotton, married a local girl and is remembered in Uckfield's roll of honour.

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