Strolling Through Summer Meadows.

Notes from a Lancashire Countryman.

This hub is a sequel to the hub THE Beacon Country park part 2

We have now left the shady lane to explore the first of the meadows we are to encounter during this guided tour of the park. Like many other localities winters iron grip makes the meadows look barren and desolate places. However, the arrival of spring transforms the meadow with a breath taking beauty. Yet it is the months of summer when I enjoy this location the most. It is when the meadow is redolent with country flowers. After the ground in spring, soaks up the revitalising life giving rain to produce a plethora of summer life. These gentle summer fields see butterflies dancing over grasses and clinging to every thistle and flitting between the knapweeds. I have sat listening to the soft persistent drone of the bees under a cloudless sky while the warm sun and the dry grassland pleased the grasshoppers which sang contentedly. During my life time I have seen many acres of such beautiful scenery vanish under suburbia. Once lost it has gone forever.

During the summer months there are two plants worthy of our attention growing among the grasses. The first is the wild angelica which towers above the tall grasses producing large umbels of flowers. This member of the parsley family is an admiral plant. Where the leaf stems join the main stem they are covered by large sheaths, typical of the family. They are superficially like the common hogweed in appearance but closer observation will reveal the differences are many. The foliage of the angelica is triangular in outline consisting of loose leaflets, while those of the hogweed are more broad and lobed. The umbels of the hogweed are flat with white flowers. The individual flowers of the hogweed that form the humbles are larger on the outside of the flower heads than those in the centre. The flower heads of Angelica are more dome shaped and are often tinged with pink. Angelica has long been used medicinally. It was the roots that were utilised in preparations which were employed against many afflictions. It is the stems of the cultivated angelica that employed in confectionery products, such as the" jelly" adornments on cakes.

Another plant that draws attention as we look upon this meadow from our starting point by the barrier, is the greater willow herb. This species also towers above the grasses in damp situations. The colour of the flowers have given rice to the country title of "codlins and cream" codlins being an archaic term for the apple. This supposedly referred to the scent of the flowers, but I confess I have never been able to detect it. Thus I assume it refers to the colour which would remind one of apples and cream. The foliage of this species is hairy and the leaves are not as elongated as those of its close relative the rose bay willow herb. The greater willow herb is toxic and should never betaken internally.

As we enter upon the meadow we find within a yard or two a pathway to our right that meanders through a small woodland. We are to take in this woodland on our next part of the tour. Recently the woodland has been opened up by removing some of the trees as part of a continuous woodland management scheme. This has allowed sunlight to penetrate through to the woodland floor which in turn allows plants to get established now the light is strong enough to permit this. During the summer the hot sun pierces the cool shade afforded by the foliage of the elegant ash. While sitting in this location I have often heard the two tone monotonous call notes of the chiffchaff reverberating around the trees. The tiny singer is unseen concealed in his leafy haunt.

In parts of this woodland all avenues are blocked by impassable bramble thickets. These brambles afford safe haven for many creatures. I have observed the stoat moving with stealthy and sinuous elegance between the brambles thorny defences, moving in and out of gaps, that most species would find impossible. Despite its reputation of being a skillful and deadly predator it is a beautiful animal to observe {if you are lucky enough to observe it} going about his business.

As we enter this woodland and to the right of our meandering pathway we will meet with the creeping buttercup. This is well known to most gardeners. As we travel further along we meet with angelica and hogweed once again. Sow thistles are also prominent in the clearings during the summer their yellow dandelion like blooms and thistle like foliage are unmistakeable. Later ragwort joins the fray. The trees in this locality are, as mentioned ash, but also to be found are rowan, hazel, field maple and young oak.


Gallery

This meadow looks barren during winters icy grip.
This meadow looks barren during winters icy grip.
ragwort joins the fray during the summer months
ragwort joins the fray during the summer months
The greater willowherb has toxic tendencies despite its beauty.
The greater willowherb has toxic tendencies despite its beauty.

Back to the Meadow

As we come to the end of this small woodland the path veers to the left. as we follow its bend we can see on the right of us the man made wooden steps that carry us up to the next meadow should we choose to go that way. As we are following our woodland paths via the bend we encounter another footpath that runs back down the length of the meadow. Had we not taken the woodland pathway we would have arrived at this point by taking this path. We are now to walk back along this pathway for a matter of yards before we conclude with our exploration of this locality. As we walk back there is on our right hand side an area of open rough grassland. During the season there are several species of plant that occur here. During the summer months and long after the common dandelion has finished its main flowering period, their close relatives the cat's ear is to be encountered. They are so called because along the flowering stem there are tiny dark coloured bracts which are shaped like the ears of a cat. The yellow dandelion like flowers are borne singly. The leaves of this species form a rosette and are wavy covered in soft hairs.

Another species found here in the summer months is the yarrow. The feathery appearance of the leaves make this plant unmistakeable. The leafs are made up of many small leaflets which are themselves divided. Depending on the conditions the leaves may grow very long. Normally they tend to be between four to eight inches. The flowers are whitish often they are tinged with pink. The yarrow is one of the oldest known wound herbs employed for centuries for such afflictions. The leaves are binding and have been chewed to stop diarrhoea. We must mow back track and follow the path in the opposite direction where we will come upon a gap between trees.. This gap gives access to the next of our meadows. However, this is for another hub {part three}.

Gallery

wild angelica is a handsome plant of open woodland and grassland. Photgraph courtesy of Franz Xaver
wild angelica is a handsome plant of open woodland and grassland. Photgraph courtesy of Franz Xaver
The chiffchaff arrives during early spring. The best time to see this leaf warbler for he is easily concealed by foliage of summer. Photograph courtesy of J.M. Garg
The chiffchaff arrives during early spring. The best time to see this leaf warbler for he is easily concealed by foliage of summer. Photograph courtesy of J.M. Garg
The stoat is a beautiful animal, but they are elusive and rarely encountered,Photograph courtesy of James Linsey.
The stoat is a beautiful animal, but they are elusive and rarely encountered,Photograph courtesy of James Linsey.
The gap leads us on to the meadow next on our list to discover.
The gap leads us on to the meadow next on our list to discover.

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Comments 8 comments

D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Darlene, once again I thank you for expressing your thoughts and for your encouragement.


Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

Oh what joy I feel, I can see it, smell it and touch it. I am laying my blanket out with my lunch basket to spend the day in splender and awe...Oh only God could think of such beauty, and I seem to move farther away as the city grow. However, I follow the beauty of this landscape. Wonder hub my friend.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

jayjay thank you for reading and for leaving your commnent.

reddog--thank you also for reading and for your kind comment.

Hi NELL, you are welcome we all need cheeriness at this time of the year. Glad you enjoyed it.

Thank you all for visiting.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

Hi, Another lovely hub. When I read it, it makes me feel that I am there. And the pictures are gorgeous. Thanks for cheering me up. nell


reddog1027 profile image

reddog1027 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Your hubs always make me feel as if I am walking with you on your jaunts in the country.


jayjay40 profile image

jayjay40 6 years ago from Bristol England

A lovely read, beautiful photos well done D A L


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

hypnotude, thank you for reading and taking time to comment. As you say the stoat is a beautiful animal.


hypnodude profile image

hypnodude 6 years ago from Italy

You write very well, but your pictures are amazing. I love your hubs D.A.L. What a beautiful stoat. I should have become a naturalist. :)

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