Sunday, 15 June 2014

Flowers On The North Norfolk Coast

A stroll along the Norfolk coast on a sunny day in June. What could be better?
It wasn't long before I was investigating the dunes and more specifically the dips in between the dunes - the "slacks" as they are known. Here the walking is easier as the sand has become compacted, there are paths and, at this time of year, there are flowers too.

Birdsfoot Trefoil
My knowledge of botany is, to say the least, patchy. It was mostly gained through walking in the company of my friend Pete, aka Environmentally Friendly Pete. So, while I can occasionally pick out some rare and hardly noticeable plants, I can struggle over things which Pete thought too obvious to bring to my attention. That's the trouble with experts.

Biting Stonecrop
That's not a problem you'll have with me! Though you might have the problem of false information creeping in from time to time.

Sea Holly
If you're near the sea and see something vaguely familiar but a bit different you can try adding the word "Sea...." in front of the name. Sometimes that works.

Southern Marsh Orchid (I think!)
Then you encounter a scene as wonderful as this. You simply can't ignore it. Orchids of some sort, but there's no such thing as a "Sea Orchid" so I'm struggling. Mmmm...might be.....lets have a closer look...

or Early Marsh Orchid perhaps

....closer still...

no...right first time (probably)

Well, I think I'm right. Lets look around for something unmistakeable.

Orange Hawkweed, Devil's Paintbrush or Fox-And-Cubs, is just that - unmistakeable - because it's bright orange. It's actually an introduced plant from Alpine Europe that was grown in gardens. In some parts of the world it has become a real nuisance. 

Viper's Bugloss
A little further along I found the fine specimen above. And about a mile after that I remembered what it's called. 

Sea Campion
Then, glancing into the grass at the side of the path, I spied the curious plant which you can also see by glancing down a little....

Bee orchid
It's called a Bee Orchid for the very obvious reason that its flower resembles a bumble bee. Orchids are some of the most interesting and ingenious plants in the world and this particular one has come up with a particularly cunning plan to get itself pollinated. Have a flower that looks enough like a bee to fool other bees - at least enough like a bee to fool a randy male bee - then when he comes to "investigate" he'll transfer the pollen for you. 

Pyramidal Orchid
And then another orchid. This time one that's easy to identify and remember - the Pyramidal Orchid. Dozens, if not hundreds, of these were growing just a short distance from the Coast Path.

And everybody knows these....

Only a few days ago we were remembering those who had landed on a similar stretch of sandy coastline some 70 years ago, just so that we can wander in joy and freedom.

And if you think I was exaggerating about my incomplete and haphazard knowledge of the plant kingdom then that's because you haven't been shown all those pictures that linger on my hard-drive unidentified. Until next time I see Pete, that is.

Take care.


  1. A delightful post to brighten a dull Sunday afternoon John! Viper's Bugloss is a magnet for insects, unfortunately the plants I had in my garden have not returned this year.

    Thank you for sharing your North Norfolk stroll and beautiful flower images. I shall look forward to viewing more flower images after 'Pete' has identified them for you. ;-)

  2. Walking along the beach, flowers--orchids! so many-- --lovely photos--grand post
    I love the folk names for wildflowers.

  3. You are an expert in finding treasures wherever you go.

  4. It looks like a beautiful place to walk and you found such a great collection of flowers.

  5. Lovely photos of the wild flowers on your walk. I have doing a similar series & you have help in the naming of a few I did not thank you!

  6. Lovely flowers -- I am like you -- patchy in the ID of plants. So many and so many names to forget. So it goes. My degree was definitely not in horticulture -- I just appreciate them, name or no name. -- barbara

  7. Nice flowers, especially the orchids! I've never heard devil's paintbrush called Fox and Cubs. It's in bloom here now too.

  8. Well, you know a lot more about flowers than I do! If any plant is shown on A Bit About Britain I need to look it up first! Wonderful photos - really stunning.

  9. What a beautiful post John .... makes me want to take a stroll along the Norfolk Coast. The little Bee Orchid is like an exquisite jewel.

  10. Marvellous pictures John of another of my favourite areas - we often stay at The Blakeney Hotel - I sit out on the balcony and enjoy the view and the farmer walks miles along the marsh tracks. Lovely churches too.

  11. I always like those orange Hawkweeds. I have them self set in the back garden and although I have had to yank them out in most places, they still survive. They are sprouting out of an old wall now. Great pictures, thank you.

  12. That's a nice place to walk among the wildflowers. So many different orchids and I've seen none of them. We do have Campion which looks just like yours, but it's called Bladder Campion. The Bee Orchid has an interesting story.

  13. I love your photos, they are so diverse. Personally, I suck at flower names, too, so I just post the photos and if I don't know the name, I state that fact and, usually, somebody identifies it for me!

  14. Nature is so wonderful. Thanks for sharing your point of view.

  15. What a marvelous collection of flowers! I think the Bee Orchid could also be called the Spider Orchid as some big web spiders have similar designs on their abdomens. Like Cynthia, we have Bladder Campion around here, too. When we were kids (or was it last year?) we used to pinch the flower end of the campion to make a tiny balloon, and then we would pop it against the back of our hand. Great fun.


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