I spent some of my lunch break today just down the road from work. In fact, that should more accurately read, ‘on the road’. I had noticed in recent days, when driving to-and-fro, that the grass verges either side of the T-junction where the village exits onto the A272, are awash with wild flowers.
On first appearances, it seems to be a sea of daisies, dancing and swaying in the breeze, like a mirage suspended above the green layer. Get in amongst them and you find that the green is not purely grass and daisy stems, but a tapestry of shades and leaf shapes, embroidered and interwoven with details of colour. Birds foot trefoil forms low carpets of saffron and gold, each flower and leaf constructed in the magic number of three. Red clover holds its flowers in tufts, filled with sweet nectar, although it shares the trefoil’s ideal of three-fold leaves. A ladybird climbs a daisy stalk, always in a hurry. A ragwort plant lures a cinnabar moth keen to lay its eggs, whilst the trefoil flowers vibrate with bumblebees although their hum can barely be heard over the traffic.
Across the road the verge dips away to be hidden from passers by. Here in the half-sun advance a troop of stunning plants. It is the flowering time for southern marsh orchids. Our native orchids are amongst the most beautiful and surprising wild flowers. Wide green strips of leaf surround the strong stem that bears the purple spikes of bloom. The traffic rushing past on the main road never sees this; 100 metres or so of emerald green and ecclesiastical purple, exquisite blooms in the most unlikely setting.