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Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Mullein and Toadflax

FoSCL campaigner, photographer and botanist called by this afternoon.   It is hard to tell if Pete Shaw is getting excited as he sports a seriously large beard, behind which his emotions hide.   However, reading the other signs I can tell he is getting quite excited about our garden - not by the plants we have planted there but by the spectacular wild flowers that have appeared and that we have encouraged.   This is one, a fine specimen of which is growing by the back wall:
Mullein - click to enlarge
Mullein, Verbascum Thapsus, alias  Aaron's rod, lady's foxglove, cow's lungwort, clown's lungwort, bullock's lungwort, donkey's ears, torches, mullein dock, velvet plant, velvet dock, Our Lady's flannel, Adam's flannel, old man's flannel, woollen, rag paper, candlewick plant, wild ice leaf, Jupiter's staff, Jacob's staff, Peter's staff, shepherd's staff, shepherd's clubs, beggar's stalk, beggar's blanket, golden rod, clot, cuddy's lungs, duffle, feltwort, fluffweed, hare's beard, hag's taper, great mullein.
It is not rare but it is a medicinal herb, as is the plant below:

This beautiful tall plant is growing all over the knoll and is giving height to the new planting.   We have purple and pink varieties of it.

Neither of these plants were evident around the tower when we bought the place and set about taming the grounds.   We did however excavate massively into the bounder clay and removed about 600 tons of soil, clay and rocks from the site.

Pete tells me that this sort of thing can happen when ancient sites are disturbed.   Seeds that have been dormant, sometimes for centuries can germinate.   Curious that both these are medicinal herbs.   We must do a more detailed survey of what we have here.   We are deliberately leaving some areas wild - to help the bees etc, or that's my story.

The building of railways meant soil disturbance in a big way resulting in seeds being either buried at depths that made germination impossible or the exposing of ancient layers.  Look at many a railway embankment for spectacular floral displays.  Seeds up to 2,000 years old have germinated.   Our ground, disturbed as recently as 1876 when the tower was built and 2011 when our JCBs moved in, seems to be throwing up some welcome surprises.   We shall watch observe diligently.

Addendum 27 th July.   Brenda Moss, FoSCL stalwart commented to Pat about this entry.:   "Not content with the water tower you've now got flipping medieval flowers in the garden".

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