Flowers of Reserves and Roadsides by Gerald Ponting

Gerald lives quite locally and is an accomplished speaker and excellent photographer.  His talk was accompanied by pictures of some of the 133 species of wild flowers taken in the area over a two year period. Many of the plants had been mentioned and illustrated in John Gerard’s Herbal of 1657 and we were shown pictures from that publication alongside some of the photographs.

One very local area, Crab Wood, has displays of Primroses, Wood Anemones, Bluebells, Yellow Archangel and wild Daffodils. Other local reserves and roadsides contain a myriad of wild flowers throughout the year including Lesser Celandine, Greater Celandine (which was mentioned a Natural History by Pliny the Elder who died at Vesuvius in 79AD), Dandelions, Cow Parsley also known as Queen Anne’s Lace. We also saw Arums known as Lords and Ladies or Cuckoo-Pint, Wood Avens, Greater Burdock, Goose grass, Rosebay Willow herb, Wood and Water Forget Me Nots, Hawksbeards and Hawkweeds and many other plants. We also saw pictures of a few of the butterflies that thrive on these plants like the Large Skipper and the Dark Green Fritillary. There are at least four different orchids growing wild in the area and these were also illustrated.

We were also reminded how many of the areas harbouring plants and wildlife have been destroyed. Since 1945 half of woodlands have been felled, 97% of damp flower rich meadows drained, 75% of heathland ploughed and 118,000 miles of hedgerow destroyed.