October 24, 2017

Even More Daffodils!

A last few images of the locally abundant Wild Daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus). It’s been a particularly excellent year for this species around here, the unusually harsh couple of winters seems to agree with them. This particular lot are extremely close to our house in Newent and utterly irresistible to toddlers!

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Betty Daw’s Wood and Gwen and Vera’s Fields

Two local Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust nature reserves within the Golden Triangle are looking truly spectacular at the moment, carpeted as they are with the Wild Daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) for which this area used to be famous. This coming weekend is ‘Daffodil Weekend’ in neighbouring Oxenhall so if you’re local, or live within striking distance of the northern part of the Forest of Dean, you should definitely check these reserves out for yourself.

Firstly Gwen and Vera’s Fields, two historic small daffodil meadows:

Then the more substantial Betty Daw’s wood SSSI, an ancient Sessile Oak (Quercus petrea) woodland:

This last photo also features some Cuckoo Flowers (Cardamine Pratensis) which suddenly seems to be appearing in all the hedgerows. Along with the daffs, I consider this to be a terrific harbinger of spring as it’s a major larval foodplant for the Orange Tip butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines). Fingers crossed they’ll be on the wing soon, as the striking males bring some much needed butterfly colour to these here parts.

Wild Daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus)

A timely and seasonal species, opening just in time for Saint David’s Day.

In addition to its significance as a welcome harbinger of spring, its also both the national flower of Wales, where I’ve lived for over half of my life and the county flower of Gloucestershire, where I live now. So it’s a really important species for me.

Locally there are some spectacular concentrations of these plants, although they grow in nothing like the numbers present in relatively recent history. In the early 20th century the wild daffodils which flower in and around Newent attracted visitors to this area each spring. Special trains were laid on from Gloucester, and the flowers were gathered by local schoolchildren and sent by rail to London hospitals.

Common Spotted-orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii)

I always thought orchids were rare things. Growing up in this country I don’t think I saw or at least recognised one, until relatively recently but it turns out that they’re the second largest family of flowering plants.

They demonstrate a dramatic amount of adaptations and are found in every habitat except deserts and glaciers but it’s the complex relationship with their pollinators which has produced some of their more bizarre looking flowers. These highly specialised pollination mechanisms have lead to their being studied a great deal, the most famous of which being “The Various Contrivances by which Orchids are Pollinated by Insects” by a certain Charles Darwin (1862).

This species, Dactylorhiza fuchsii, is reasonably typical of the range of British species, all of which are terrestrial herbaceous perennials and as its name suggests, its one of our more common species. Indeed the sun dappled wooded area in which I took this photograph was very densely populated and there were several other similar sites nearby too.