Wednesday 20 June 2012

The June Gap

Gardeners are familiar with the June Gap, that time of the year when the bright flowers and exuberant growth of spring dies down and the mainstream shrubs and perennials of summer have yet to make their mark. At this time the garden looks relatively quiet and green.

Greater Stitchwort
Something similar happens to the hedgerows as well, May is dominated by white: the tiny stars of the greater stitchwort cluster in the long grass, clumps of hawthorn flowers daub the hedgerows and clouds of hogweed and cow parsley hang over the the verges.

Hogweed & Cow Parsley

Hawthorn & Cow Parsley

Now, in mid-June, after a few days of rain followed by hot weather, the flowers have bloomed and blown and the hedgerows are green again.

Back to green again

But there are still gems to be found, wild roses are flowering in the hedges and the humble clover is making an appearance.

Briar Rose

Backlit Clover

We don't usually think of grasses as flowering, but the delicately coloured tufts at the end of grass stalks actually are flowers and they drop pollen into the air with every gust of wind. The pollen grains are very light because they may have to travel miles before they land on a grass of the same species. For the same reason grasses produce vast qantities of pollen and as a side effect make hay fever sufferers lives a misery.

Grasses - 1

Grasses - 2

Many of these grasses have fine, subtle colours of purple and russet which tint fields and meadows. A good place to see this is in the meadow at the side of Menethorpe Beck in Low Hutton, a fine if small example of a classic meadow, with purple grasses, sedges, buttercups and clover.

So 'Mind The Gap Please', there's more in there than meets the eye.

All material © Michelle Stone 2012

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