The Joys of the Road


As we drove down to the coast this morning, I couldn’t help noticing just how green and lush the countryside looked compared to a normal July.  Instead of taking on the golden highlights of midsummer, nature is still wearing its verdant green spring cloak.  On a steep motorway embankment old man’s beard (Clematis vitalba) cascaded down to the roadside like a green veil.  Further on, stands of great mullein (Verbascum thapsus), unmistakable with their huge furry silver leaves and tall spikes of yellow flowers, towered over tall grasses.   In the central reservation rusty flowered docks, candy coloured mallows,  fine leaved fennel and cheery evening primroses were growing prolifically, their lanky stems bent over the crash barriers by the weight of rain.   Scenes such as this can even make motorway driving a pleasure, provided you keep your eyes on the road!

Closer to home the sides of a new road were flooded with bright red field poppies (Papaver rhoeas) a sight which is sadly no so common these days.  Growing on bare chalk, the seeds must have lain dormant for years, stirred into life by the construction workers’ digger.  Field poppies are so indelibly linked with the remembrance of the Great Wars that it’s hard not to feel slightly sombre at the sight of them.  But set against a backdrop of fresh white rock they brought light and life to an otherwise dreary day.  It was not the occasion to stop the car and take photos, so forgive me if I include some rather lovely pictures taken by those credited below.

Clematis vitalba, top, photographed by Polly Chapman

Verbascum thapsus, middle, photographed by Forest and Kim Starr

Papaver rhoeas, bottom, photographed by Michael Maggs