Flowers come full circle as survey starts again

Red campion flower by Ed Dolphin

Red campion, which can flower all year round - Credit: Ed Dolphin

As we celebrate(?) a new year, nature rolls on with her unbroken cycle.

The Sid Valley Biodiversity Group’s year-long wild flower survey has come to an end, but the winter flowers recorded last January have already started to appear to kick start 2022.

Volunteers from the Biodiversity Group have been out and about around the valley each month recording which herbaceous plants are in flower. 

They are searching in the footsteps of local doctor WH Cullen, who published a list of the valley’s flora in 1849. So far, group members have found nearly 400 of the 500 species that Dr Cullen listed plus, they have found some that he didn’t.

Back last January, the survey found delights such as Sweet Violet, Lesser Celandine, and Barren Strawberry. As spring progressed, these were joined by Dog Violets, Primroses, and Yellow Archangel among many others. 

Through the summer there were Foxgloves, Wild Roses, Wild Strawberries, and Musk Mallows to name just four of the 178 species flowering in June. 

As nature closed down for the autumn, the volunteers were still finding plenty of species soldiering on, including Wild Carrot, Lesser Stitchwort, and Scarlet Pimpernel. 

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Our balmy climate has allowed some species, such as Red Campion, to flower all year round. 

Now, as the old year closes, the first Winter Heliotrope flowers since last spring are opening ready for the new year.

We are blessed with a wealth of wild flowers, in hedgerows, fields, even on the beach. Some are controversial because they have been allowed to grow in roadside verges, parks, and the cemetery. 

This diversity is very important, it supports so many other creatures, not just the butterflies and bees that many people love, but the myriad of other insects and invertebrates that support our bird and mammal population and, ultimately the human species.

In 2022, the Biodiversity Group volunteers will be looking for some of the species on Dr Cullen’s list that were not found in 2021, as well as the ferns and grasses that were left out in 2021. 

A more extensive report on the project, including the full species list, can be found on the Sid Valley Biodiversity Group website.