Wild Marjoram and Traveller’s Joy

While walking in the South Downs National Park this weekend I came across a meadow with several wild-flower species. None of them are uncommon, but it is lovely to see them thriving and provides a reminder of the long-lost splendour of the once-common wild-flower meadows of pre-industrial Britain. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my SLR so had to rely on some quick snaps with my iPhone SE, which, nevertheless, produced a few good shots.

Note: Click to enlarge if you are viewing on a desktop

The pale mauve clump in the centre of the photo is wild marjoram (Origanum vulgare). I think the yellow umbellifer is wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa). Tucked away around its feet some of the little yellow dots are flowers of Toadflax (Linaria vulgaris) and St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum or H. hirsutum – I didn’t check!). The vivid magenta flowers in the foreground are a species of thistle — perhaps Spear thistle, (Cirsium vulgare) although those usually have a duller pink flower. I like the golden haze of the grasses melting into the distance.

Here is more of the Wild Marjoram in its peak, a good 50cm high, flourishing on the thin chalk soil. I love the near-black stems and geometric pyramidal flower trusses. If you click and enlarge you can see the white outline to each stem created by light scattering off the fine hairs that line the stems.

Growing on the fence was a young Traveller’s joy (Clematic vitalba) which was at its peek: small white flowers with starry yellow and white centres. Again, like the Wild Marjoram, the stems are a deep purple-black, the buds perfect little baubles.

Here is a close up of some of the Clematis’ buds.

Isn’t it remarkable how nature is forever bringing forth order out of chaos (in this case, the chaotic unkempt margin of a field)?

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