Wednesday, 3 August 2016

The summer weeds are putting on their own Druridge Bay flower festival

High summer and the flowers are at a crescendo, teetering on being overblown or scorched. In particular some of the overlooked and common place plants of the waysides are stunning, if they can hold a small patch of their own in amongst the ripened wheat and barley around Cresswell and Ellington. Here is a carpet of may weed smeared through a seasonal flash where the water-logging keeps the crops at bay just by Ellington Caravan Park, doing their best to look like a psychedelic shirt. The scented mayweed with its large daisy-esque flowers has an underlay of pineapple mayweed whose pineapple drop sweetie smell is distinct on the warm summer breeze. The may weed’s froth is broken by occasional knotweeds and bistorts, zig-zag stems adding dots of pink flower heads to the mix. None are rare, some are even a pest but they are at home of the scarps of land that the plough has not tamed until the pre-harvest herbicide sprays end their defiance.
Where the subsidence ponds have dried away you can find a more straggling version of the may weed canopy. In the photo above the fragmented stands of mayweed (white flowers, feathery leaves) and bistorts (pale pink flowers, spear shaped leaves, often blotched darker in the centre) are laced with the grey stems of cud weed. Again the cud weed relishes these battered and baked gaps in amongst the crops. Well managed nature reserves do not seem to suit the cud weed or may weed. Instead they scratch out a barely noticed living amongst the arable crops. Many grow by gateways, along the tracks through the fields and by car parks so you are probably stepping on them when you visit the Bay. They will be destroyed by autumn, either the frost or plough, but back next year and in unpredictable mixes as different members of the cast hit the stage to show off, whilst others seem to rest on their laurels. This year’s star performer: the may weed. Catch their show before the combine harvester brings down the curtain

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