Category Suburban Wild Diaries

9th April 2021 – Wood-rushes in Wandsworth

I haven’t missed pubs, but botanizing in company again feels like an exceptional treat. Today I’m going on a plant hunt in Wandsworth Cemetery with Roy Vickery and a group from the South London Botanical Society. I meet first with Sarah Webley on her patch, Wandsworth Common. This area is new to me and hadn’t […]

12th April 2021 – A strange kind of beauty

“Mum, can I come?” Words which are always a lovely surprise. After negotiating a mix of walking and plant-hunting, we set off in warm sun and arrive at the Woodland Trust site near Biggin Hill as it is starting to cloud over. It rarely happens, but on this occasion the botanical treat was growing right […]

Seeing past the snowdrops – Guest blog for London Wildlife Trust

Writing this guest blog was a great opportunity to think about what spring means to me.

5th April 2021 – a passion for the hairiest of miners

“Yes, yes, YES!” I say as I fling myself onto the ground at the foot of an oak. This is passion, but possibly not of the kind you’re imagining. Lying on my stomach, I raise up onto my elbows so I can point my camera. A tiny and lushly-hairy bee is skirting a recently mined […]

29th March 2021 – it’s a big day today!

This housing estate in south London is my favourite for plant-hunting. Not too tidy or gardened, but not too quiet or edgy either. There’s clearly need here – with a busy and efficient foodbank run from the community centre – but I feel relatively safe kneeling or lying on the pavement taking photographs of plants. […]

22nd March 2021 – the original spring beauty

Edging the pavement in front of the care home, I find eye-catching green sprigs of Springbeauty (Claytonia perfoliata). The fused and slightly fleshy leaves beneath clusters of delicate five-petalled flowers are unmistakable. This plant, native to western North America, is edible and has a mild fresh taste. Also known as Miner’s Lettuce, research suggests that […]

16th March 2021 – a little sweetie in the chalk

I hummed and hawed for quite a while before I decided it was legitimate to drive the 30 mins south to Hutchinson’s Bank in Croydon. I knew it would be a long shot but I was hoping to find something in flower on these chalky slopes and to practice my skills at identifying plants at […]

8th March 2021 – Salt-water and coral spawning in south east London

“Do you want me to give you a leg up?” my sixteen year old asks. A bit of low-key trespass clearly appeals. The plant-dotted ruins and rain-filled pits are intriguing but we decide to be sensible and stay on the right side of the fence. This is what remains of the Crystal Palace marine aquarium, […]

1st March 2021 – You’re gorgeous… how could I have missed you?

We’re on the upper terrace of Crystal Palace Park scanning the ground beneath a scrappy hedge. “They’ve cut it back too much,” my friend says sadly, “There were lots here last February but perhaps there won’t be any this year”. And it really doesn’t look very hopeful. The turf is quite churned up but we […]

22nd February 2021 – Blossom with history and my first firecrest

It’s an overcast day in South Norwood Country Park but I’ve brought my camera, ever hopeful. Picking our way through the mud, my friend, her dog and I come across a small tree with flowers emerging snowy white just as the sun makes its presence felt. I’m pretty sure this is not a Blackthorn; for […]