Friday, 4 April 2014

Small, Rare And Beautiful

We're off in search of something small, rare and very beautiful today. It may be there or it may not. It may be putting on a show or it may be shy and retiring. But first we have to go to the town of Royston and from there we have quite a trek across what is universally known as The Heath, but is actually a chalk grassland.

Up on the Heath, keeping one eye out for flying golf balls, you may find cowslips growing on the slopes.

Skylarks were singing overhead and underfoot (almost literally!) was this fine fellow....

....I think it's a Bloody-Nosed Beetle, he gets his name from the way in which he releases his foul-smelling blood from his mouthparts in order to dissuade potential predators. If it is a Bloody-Nosed Beetle then it fulfils the "small" and possibly even the "beautiful" elements of our quest but is not actually very rare. We need to walk a little further.....

....past what looks like the golf-hole-at-the-edge-of-the-world, and into Fox Covert Wood....

There are some small and beautiful flowers blooming in here if you look closely....

 ....yes, violets, but they're not rare either - they even grow in the garden, whether you want them to or not!

Dog's Mercury is there too, an indicator of old woodland but not at all rare and hardly beautiful. No we have to look out for Church Hill.
Ah, there it is!

It's that little bump in the middle distance. Not much of a hill, I know, but if you walk around the far side you might find....

Pulsatilla Vulgaris or the Pasque Flower. It gets its common name from "Paschal" meaning to do with Easter, the time of year it blooms.

Small, very beautiful and pretty rare too, only growing on long-undisturbed chalk grassland. It is the county flower of Hertfordshire and also has the rather more exciting name of Danes' Blood, which is thought to come from its habit of thriving on ancient burial mounds.

Now I've got to walk all the way back!

Take care.


  1. Well, I've never seen one of those before. How lovely. Mind you I'm very partial to the little violets too.

  2. I liked the old-fashioned violets out there, as much as the rare Pasque flower. Glad you ventured out and made it all the way back home again - bet you headed straight for the jug to make a cuppa too!

  3. A great nature walk you took us on John. What a beautiful flower. Never heard of this rarity before, thank you for introducing it to us. Great photos and a very interesting post.

  4. Great pictures. The violets followed by the Pasque flower.

  5. So worth the walk John, isn't it exciting when you set out to catch a shot and everything falls into place. The Pasque flower is a wee lovely for sure and beautifully shown here.

  6. A lovely walk and what lovely flowers at the end.

  7. How beautiful and well worth the walk to find it:)

  8. What a lovely flower- well worth the walk.

  9. I had a Pasque flower in my garden for a couple of years but it died out - soil too heavy and acidic probably. It is the provincial flower of Manitoba where it grows wild. I'm guessing the soil is more alkaline out there as some of the water wells are "sour" which usually indicates caustic salts.. The pretty fuzzy flowers are readily available in Ontario at garden centers. I might try one again in sandier soil.

  10. The absolutely perfect thing to take a long hike to see. Such a beautiful little rare blossom. Love seeing this and so glad you took the walk to show it to us.


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