Flowers, flowers, flowers

​I've walked around Fineshade Woods many times over the last 30 years and seen a number of orchids, picked a lot of blackberries but I had no idea how many different flowers there were in the wood until....

Photo: Barrie Galpin

Jan and I met up with Brian Laney and some other Friends of Fineshade to see what flowers we could find. Brian is an expert botanist as we soon discovered. We found at least ten species of flower in the first 20 yards of our stroll. Brian had said at the beginning that we wouldn’t go very fast, there was too much to see, and he was right, over and over again.

He was also careful to explain the sort of soil that various plants were suited to, how some of them were similar to common garden plants and how common or rare they might be in this part of Northamptonshire. He could see things that I hadn’t noticed. I suppose his eyes were tuned into finding plants.

We walked along the bridle path from Top Lodge towards King’s Cliffe, then into Westhay and down one of the rides back towards the main forest road south, then along the old railway cutting and finally through the field below and back to the entrance road to the woods.

What did we see? Overall I recorded 88 species of flowers, not all blooming at the moment, and including some grasses and sedges. (If you are interested you can download a list of the species here). I am sure I missed several. Some of the stars include the large spectacular Woolly Thistle, Horseradish, lots of Common Knapweed and Common Ragwort, which is poisonous to horses but only when it is dried into hay and the horses don’t know what they are eating.

Seeds of hemlock

We found Hemlock too, another poisonous plant from which Socrates died. The picture on the left shows its seeds.