31st May 2020 – verging on wild

On the north side of Dulwich Wood where it borders a cul de sac, there’s a picket fence of around 200 metres long with a two metre high cherry laurel hedge (yes, ugh!) running along outside it.    Between the hedge and road kerb is a grass verge which varies from about one metre to three metres wide.

Dulwich Wood and the verge are owned by Dulwich Estate, who have just renegotiated a contract with a new gardening contractor.  The upshot of this and probably also lockdown is that the verge hasn’t been mown for a while and has been transformed from tidy but dull short turf into a very long thin vibrant meadow.

I’m spending this morning making the most of this meadow as the mowers could turn up any day now.  It’s perfect for working on my rusty wildflower identification. Nothing beats bimbling along spotting new plants or lounging in the long grass photographing them.

Some are familiar, I can’t retrieve the name from memory but I’m pretty sure I know the family. Others are a mystery at this point and I expect some will be garden escapees to make it extra difficult.

New to me but one I’m fairly certain I’ve identified is Dyer’s Rocket in the mignonette family, which is used to make yellow dye.

Using botanical identification keys is a bit like the game Dungeons and Dragons my brothers used to play. “If the stem is hairy go to (1), if not, go to (2)… where you will find a chest of treasure.” or something along those lines.  Joyful when it works but maddening when the most important diagnostic feature hasn’t yet developed.

Here’s hoping for a few more days before the mow so I can navigate through as many “games” as possible.

In the meantime, I might not be able to identify this (is it an Opium poppy?), but the morning light makes it almost luminescent.

Poppy PWV 31.5.20 cropped



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