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Nature blog - Jenny Bourne

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Sunflowers, path plants, spotless ladybird, harvest

Date posted: Thursday 24th August 2017

Sunflowers, path plants, spotless ladybird, harvest

Measuring sunflowers round the site for the Autumn Social children’s tallest sunflower competition – there are some giants out there over 300cm high! As with much produce this season, everything seems to be at least 2-3 weeks early – huge sunflower heads flopping and blackberries almost over.

While on the trail of sunflowers and Best Plots the low growing plants on the paths have caught my eye, such as plantain and achillea. As Durer observed,with his little patch of wild plants, they also have their value and modest beauty:

Achillea millefolium, also known as Soldier’s Woundwort prefers thin, sandy soil and sun: ‘Yarrow has a good reputation as an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic and is widely used in herbal medicine. This perennial wild edible tastes bitter but after all, bitter is generally better for your health. Yarrow contains many vitamins and minerals, and is used in the treatment of a wide range of disorders. Yarrow is particularly valuable for stopping the flow of blood, treating colds, fevers, treating wounds, kidney diseases, menstrual pain, and much more. It also contains the anti-inflammatory agent azulene, though the content of this varies even between plants in the same habitat. Legend has it that Yarrow was named after Achilles, the Greek mythical figure who used it to stop the bleeding wounds of his soldiers. Ryan Drum, BSc., PhD., has authored over thirty scientific papers and his research discovered that this wild edible was discovered in the Shanidar Cave in Iraq dating back almost 100,000 years.’ (www.ediblewildfood.com/common-yarrow)

Ribwort plantain, Plantago lanceolata L., common names black plantain, ribgrass, ribwort, tinker-tailor grass, windless, has a beneficial use; like dock leaves you can use it to rub on a nettle or ant sting to lessen the pain. “Ribwort plantain is a common perennial weed of arable fields and grassland, widespread throughout the UK on a range of soils. It may behave as a biennial or even an annual but is a true perennial with a thick short rhizome. It is a common roadside plant. In early surveys of Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Norfolk it was especially associated with temporary grass or clover seed crops. Ribwort plantain is recorded up to 2,600 ft in the UK and its remains have been found in prehistoric deposits.” (Garden Organic)

This spotless ladybird was reluctantly sharing the apple leaf with a twitchy fly! Such a variety of colours and spot configurations, both our natives and the harlequins – still hard to tell what impact the harlequin interlopers are having on the natives…

This is what I call a bounteous harvest… my good friend, Joanie’s edibles… and my late flowering sweetpeas, still lovely and scenting the home with that fragrance that takes me straight back to childhood!