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JULY 8 - 2019
I had an
interesting meeting this morning at 10.30am in Bridge
Road car park, arranged by Brendan Gibb-Gray, with
three residents of Hayling Island (Lesley, Eric and
Judy) who are aiming to kick start a waysides project
on the island similar to the one we launched here in
Emsworth almost 10 years ago. Yes, it really is that
long ago . . . the inaugural meeting of the Friends of
Emsworth Waysides took place on 3 September 2009 in
the Crown Hotel, Emsworth.
First we stopped to
look at the council mown grass verge at the southern
entrance to the car park which has a variety of
interesting flowers and grasses, which are encouraged
by regular mowing.
In contrast the
wayside to the east of the car park which is only
mown once a year is a veritable jungle of grasses and
flowers - no doubt supporting a great range of
We noted a few
beetles, but the highlight of the morning were several
Gatekeeper butterflies which we saw flying on
the wayside - the first of the year. Here are a
couple of shots I managed to get.
We went on a little
tour of the wayside, during which I pointed out some
of the more interesting plants, including two types of
Bedstraw, Hedge Bedstraw and the aromatic Ladies
Bedstraw. There were also several varieties of grasses
which are the backbone of any wayside.
Personally, I was
pleased to discover a small tuft of Lesser
Swine-cress (Coronopus didymus) growing
from the edge of the verge at the northern entrance.
And later I also noted
the first flowering of Vervain on the edge of
the northern shrubbery.
The Hayling visitors
promised to keep in touch and I, in turn, I agreed to
visit their sites to help out with plant
At the end we trouped up Victoria Road, stopping at
Julian's nursery to buy a few plants, and on to Brook
Meadow. We managed to find a single Pyramidal Orchid
still in flower, along with several seed heads of
Southern Marsh Orchids. But not enough time to explore
JUNE 27 - 2019
I am grateful
to Kate Wheelwright for alerting me to the roadside
verge at the top of Horndean Road opposite the new
housing development on the old Southleigh Farm. As
Kate says, before the housing development and the
subsequent road widening works the verge was mown
grass with 5 mature maple trees and daffodils in the
spring. When the housing development started, the road
had to be widened to allow access to the site and the
verge was narrowed and ripped up, including the
daffodils (purchased and planted by local residents);
the trees were felled and stumps ground out.
Kate says nothing much happened to the verge until
early spring this year when three chaps turned up with
a rotovator and did some earth scraping. Now it is a
mass of flowers!
Well, to take up the
story, Kate asked me to have a look at it and see what
was growing there which I did yesterday (June 26). I
was astonished! I have never seen a verge like it.
There is certainly nothing like it in Emsworth.
Basically, it is a mass of Mayweed, of both Scented
and Unscented varieties with a number of other flowers
and grasses mixed in. I could smell the sweet Mayweed
as I walked on the verge. Quite an experience.
I decided to make a
list of the plants which you can see below: N = 28.
They include a couple of grasses which I think are
Italian Ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum)
and Black Grass (Alopecurus
myosuroides); I have not recorded either of them
previously in Emsworth.
The most interesting
flower was Grass Vetchling of which I noted
several examples. This is another plant I have not
previously recorded in Emsworth.
I called in to see
Kate who lives in one of the houses adjacent to the
verge and she accompanied me on a little tour of this
extraordinary verge. Kate was delighted to hear about
the range of wild flowers on the verge and I
encouraged her to enjoy it while it lasts and tell her
neighbours about it. It is important neighbours also
appreciate what a glorious galaxy of wild flowers they
have on their doorsteps which in turn provide valuable
nectar sources to butterflies, bees and other insects.
What a contrast to the boring 'bowling green' desert
on the other side of the road by the new houses.
As to the origin of
the plants this is unclear. The most likely
explanation is that they came in with soil for the new
verge. Maybe the Council will have more information? I
suggested to Kate that we ask Norse (Havant Borough
Council) to mow the verge as usual in later summer
once the seeds have set. That should set the verge up
for the following year and so let's wait and see what
comes up. How exciting!
List of plants
recorded on the Horndean Road verge - 26 June 2019 . .
Black Grass, Black Medick, Bristly Ox-tongue,
Broad-leaved Willowherb, Cleavers, Common Orache,
Common Poppy, Corncockle (?), Cultivated Oat, Curled
Dock, Field Bindweed, Field Forget-me-not, Grass
Vetchling, Greater Plantain, Hairy Tare, Hedge
Mustard, Hoary Willowherb, Italian Ryegrass,
Knotgrass, Meadow-grass (?), Nipplewort, Prickly
Lettuce, Prickly Sow-thistle, Scented Mayweed,
Scentless Mayweed, Smooth Sow-thistle, Spear Thistle,
JUNE 15 - 2019
I was very
pleased to meet up again with several friends from the
old Havant Wildlife Group to lead this morning's walk
on Brook Meadow. Nine of us assembled in Bridge Road
car park where I invited them to look at a rare plant
called Sulphur Cinquefoil (Potentilla recta)
which was in flower on the wayside.
Unlike the more common
Creeping Cinquefoil, Sulphur Cinquefoil is an erect
plant with a cluster of flowers at the top of the
stem. It is a regular plant on this wayside where I
have recorded it most years since 2011. It is
described as 'Rare' in my old copy of 'The Flora of
Hampshire' (1996), though I am not sure what its
present status. It was introduced into Britain by
1648, and was known from the wild by 1858 (Middlesex),
so it is fairly well established though still rare in
5 JUNE - 2019
I stopped off
to check on the Wild Clary (Salvia verbenaca) that has
been growing on the council mown grass verge at the
northern end of Christopher Way for several years. It
was good to see these rare plants still doing well
despite of (or maybe because of) regular Council
mowing. I counted about 20 plants most of which were
just starting to flower.
I first discovered
these plants when surveying the local roadside verges
prior to setting up the Friends of Emsworth Waysides
Group in 2011. Their identification was confirmed by
BSBI Hants Recorder Martin Rand Martin who said it was
a first record for the 10km square SU70. Martin
thought it was unlikely to be a garden escape. It was
more likely to be a native and maybe either a survival
of earlier times or an arrival under its own steam.
APRIL 22 - 2018
I did the
final count of Cuckooflowers on the Bridge Road
Wayside verge for this year. I counted a total of 157
flowering plants with 76 on the north section and 81
on the south section.
have been steady falling since the bumper year of 2012
when I counted 694 flowering plants. This decline
could reflect the change in grass verge management
from the regular cutting by the council to a once a
year cut as a wayside. This means that Cuckooflowers
may well benefit from regular cutting, which reduces
competition from tougher plants.
I also noted
Barren Brome grass
and the first signs of
Common Sorrel. The white flowers of Garlic
Mustard are now well out and prominent on the
The small Bay bush
near the Goat Willow on the south verge is also in
flower. The only butterflies I saw were Comma and a
female Orange Tip.
17 April 2018
There has been a large
increase in Cuckooflowers since my last count
yesterday. Today I counted 73
Cuckooflowers on the wayside verge with more
to come. We might make the ton! Garlic Mustard is out
for the first time.
I also found some Wavy Bitter-cress with
distinctive wavy stems, growing on the edge of the
Monday 16 April 2018
26 Cuckooflower plants on the
grass verge this afternoon. As we have had hundreds in
previous years, I am expecting (hoping for) more to
While counting the
Cuckooflowers, I came across a stunning Peacock
butterfly basking in the warm spring sunshine. These
butterflies are so beautiful they take your breath
away! A slightly less spectacular Comma was also
fluttering around the wayside. I managed to snap it
when it rested.
APRIL 12 - 2018
I spent most of this
afternoon installing and cleaning the waysides
signcase which has not been touched for over a year. I
have completely updated the display, including
information about the Friends of Emsworth Waysides
scheme, a map of the existing wayside sites and photos
of volunteers, visitors and wildlife (birds and wild
flowers), that can be seen on the Bridge Road wayside.
Here is a photo
of the display in the signcase
I also did a mini
litter pick, just concentrating on the wayside,
producing one bag.
Following that I did a
wild flower survey of the wayside, during which I
found the first Cuckooflower of the year in
full flower, though this is one to two weeks later
than usual. It is just south of the central shrubbery.
I noted many more in bud, still to flower, so
hopefully we shall get another good showing of this
attractive flower. Last year I counted a maximum of
268 Cuckooflowers on the wayside, though numbers have
been falling since the bumper year of 2012 when I
counted an astonishing 694. Bridge Road Wayside is the
best local site that I am aware for this attractive
wild flower. It gets its name from the arrival of the
first Cuckoo, though the flower usually comes before
As usual in early
spring, there has been an excellent showing of the
yellow flowers of Lesser Celandine
(Wordsworth's favourite flower) beneath the Beech
hedge at the southern entrance to the car park. The
Rowan tree on the southern grass verge immediately in
front of the Celandines was planted on 4th April 2010
by Brendan Gibb-Gray in memory of his wife Margaret.
Brendan was one of the founder members of the Friends
of Emsworth Waysides in 2009.
One other significant
finding in today's survey was the first spike (flower)
of the grass Meadow Foxtail. This is also about
a week later than usual. No other grasses are out on
the wayside apart from the ubiquitous Annual