Thursday, January 14, 2010

A walk on the wild side

Thistle seedhead catching the sunshine (before the snows came)

I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time wandering through countryside, usually with dog in tow, and it's hard to do that without appreciating just how remarkable wild plants and flowers are. They don't get so much as a smidgin of attention from us, yet they seed themselves, grow up bravely fighting off all manner of weeds (actually they often are weeds) and pests and make it to adulthood to produce a heart-stopping flower of their own. As a gardener it's all a bit humbling.

So since I often think they look at least as pretty as garden flowers I thought I'd give them their own spot in the limelight here, starting with a thistle I kind of wish I had in my garden as its seedheads were nicer (and much more sturdy) than most of mine have been this winter. But then the whole point of wildflowers is that they aren't in your garden, and you wouldn't want them to be if they were (I spend a lot of time and prickled fingers pulling thistles out of my garden, in fact). So I give you the thistle: in its own place and its own time, and long may it stay there so we can be stopped in our tracks while out dog-walking.


VP said...

It's an extension of Right Plant, Right Place eh?

I wish garden plants were as easy to ID as wildflowers. If I want to know what I've seen on my walks I simply consult my Francis Rose, which will give me the answer whether the plants vegetative or in flower.

Now remembering your fiendish plant ID quizes last year, where on earth does one start I you don't have the foggiest idea?

WV says pityl!

camillap said...

Thanks for this reminder of golden summer, autumn days - the light is really beautiful (please don't tell me if it was photgraphed on a bright winter day and spoil my illusion). I too sometimes look at hedgrows wistfully and think - nature really does it better.

Plant Mad Nige said...

I'm pretty sure your 'thistle' is a teasel, Dipsacus fullonium. I'm deducing that from the curved bracts below the missing seedhead on the upper stem. I have grown this species in my garden for years and absolutely love it. In the current snow, it's prettier than anything 'bred.'

The Constant Gardener said...

if you don't have the foggiest idea, VP, you start with just wittering on about how lovely the plant is and hope nobody notices you haven't mentioned the name :D

camilla - OK won't tell you then...

and Nigel - I debated with myself for a long time over whether this was thistle or teasel, as the bracts look like teasels but the head looks like a thistle. What makes me think it can't be a teasel is that in this patch of countryside there are a lot of teasels and they have much larger and more upright cones than this - far more like the garden teasels in shape. This looked nothing like them.

I'm quite prepared to be told there are lots of different types of teasel now, and I may have found one which isn't the common teasel - though I know many thistles have bracts too. Hmm... I refer you to the answer I gave VP earlier :D

VP said...

I've just consulted my Francis Rose (The Wild Flower Key) and I reckon it's the small teasel Dipsacus pilosus

The Constant Gardener said...

Do you know VP you might just be right... the bracts don't look as large in the summer plants but the flower heads are the right size - and the bracts do get more noticeable in winter.

Cor, not only did I find a pretty wild plant I also found quite an unusual one too!

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