Poor Bastard! (Balm)

Since I decided a few weeks ago to start logging all the wildflowers that I come across, I have learnt a lot. I have spent hours on the internet comparing images and trying to identify plants, finding that some are far easier than others. Some have me stumped for days, until suddenly I have a breakthrough, and this was one such plant.

Cycling up a valley road I noticed some splashes of pink on the steep, almost vertical bank. Closer inspection showed it to be a slightly nettle-like plant, with a scattering of large-ish pink flowers up the stem.

Interestingly, amongst a fairly small group of plants, there was quite a wide range of colours, from pale to deep pink, as well as one plant that combined both of these shades in each flower.

Bastard Balm

The closest I could get to identifying it for some days was some type of lamium: the leaves were about right, but the flowers were not quite the right shape – not narrow enough, and far larger and more impressive than most lamium flowers. Another option that kept cropping up was a type of stachys – perhaps Hedge Woundwort. The flower shape was closer, but still not quite right, and the leaves didn’t have their own stalks. Finally, more by chance than anything, I came upon it, and the poor thing with the beautiful pink flowers is called Bastard Balm!

Despite the name, I just wanted to show you how lovely it is.

Bastard BalmBastard Balm

Bastard Balm

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Orchids

In the last few days of March I noticed the very first Early purple orchids (Orchis mascula) poking through in the roadside verges, adding a bright splash of colour. Now I’m seeing more and more of them – mostly in ones and twos, although sometimes they grow in sparse patches. The largest I have seen has been about 30 cm tall, although I gather they can grow up to 60 cm.

20170406_093138-1

Early purple orchid

The flowers are stunning close up, as is the colour:

Early purple orchid

Close up of Early purple orchid

Today, as a cycled along, I also spotted what I think I have identified as a Lady orchid (Orchis purpurea), growing on a very steep bank beside the road, which made photographing it a bit difficult.

Lady orchid

Lady orchid

Cowslips

One of the most incredible sights throughout February and March, and into April, has been the swathes of cowslips (primula veris) growing on roadside verges, and in meadows and gardens. 20170331_101729-1 (2)At first glance you might think they were dandelions or buttercups such is their abundance. (As an aside, dandelions are also common here, but buttercups far less so – at least at the moment – as I was pleased to note, my former East Sussex garden having been under constant threat of being completely taken over by them). 20170329_150002-1 1 (2)20170329_145922-1 (2)And some close-ups: