A day of surprises in June

Another lovely work day up on Brighton Greenway yesterday – full of surprises, human and floral.

Somewhat to our surprise, our wildflower strip above Isetta Square is looking great, dotted with blood-red poppies, blue cornflowers, yellow corn marigolds and white daisies – all of these from previous year’s seedings. There’s also pink campion mixed in there and a delicate white love-in-the-mist. OK, so the bullies of the wildflower world have also established their presence: thistles, dock and nettles, along with the less easily recognisable Artemisia, but we’ve decided to stand back and see what happens …

What’s interesting is how groups of plants have established themselves in different places, so do go and admire the ‘drift’ of dock leaves, against the tall border of nettles and our architectural thistles. Weeds? No, just plants we have yet to appreciate. Our aim now is to keep cutting back and seeding regularly to try to keep some of the thugs under control (that’s why there’s a low growing section in the middle where we strimmed dock, thistle and nettle back in May) and build up the diversity of wildflowers. Some lovely person planted blue borage plants at various points along the strip. These have taken and should self-seed for next year. And all of this supports lots of buzzing insect life.

In the more northern area, the wildflowers are less visible for the moment. The area is more shaded, and also more trampled on. But there are lots of good signs that seeds are coming up and a good diversity of plants. We’ve got lovely purple sage (Salvia nemerosa) which has strayed in from somewhere, looking beautiful against the red valerian (Centranthus ruber), yellow dandelions, daisies and field buttercups. We spotted some more plants to add to our wildflower tally: rosebay willowherb (Chamaenerion angustifolium) rather than the Great willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum) which was well established last year, and a yellow vetch/pea-like plant I have yet to identify.

And apart from our wildflower areas, we worked hard on the more ornamental planting around the central fossil benches, clearing the weeds and the rubbish, mulching around the planting, which finally was looking lovely. There we met various people who, unexpectedly, chatted and helped. I confess I was wary of the pet snake who visited with its owner, but others were more sanguine and were happy to stroke the scaly back of the creature. Meanwhile, Matthew showed up with orange juice and ice for us, and then, heroically, walked back and forth to the tap to fill our now single watering can.

The FOBG watering can is rather sad: its partner has mysteriously disappeared. Why anybody would want to nick a green plastic watering can, or indeed, spend energy kicking in the plastic of the remaining one is quite beyond me, but hey, humans do strange things. But humans also seek friendly interaction, and several of us had a lovely chat with a Polish man who shyly shared his unpronounceable name, and smiled tolerantly at our mangling of it. “I sound like Jeremy Corbin”, he said, having talked about the importance of getting involved with a community: “something more than money”, as he put it. Alleluja! Do join us again … SUNDAY 16 July

Ox-eye daisies, Great burdock and red achillea, with lavender in the background.

Purple sage (from Market Florists in the Open Market) along with pink campion and fennel.


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