Wiltshire Summers are all about the Wildflowers
I am lucky enough to live in the most beautiful part of England. I live in Wiltshire near Stonehenge and in the summer months, this beautiful County becomes one big one wildflower garden.
The hedgerows teem with ox-eye daisies, which make fabulous subjects for prints with all their jolly petals. And everywhere you walk you see umbelliferae of every kind … wild carrot and wild parsnip, cow parsley, Burnet-saxifrage and ground elder and hemlock … don’t you just love those names?!
During the lush, long summers here in Wiltshire, wildflowers abound.
Which is good news for me as a cyanotype print maker.
During the UK’s first summer of Lockdown in 2020, my Lockdown Lunchtime Walks took me along a bridleway near my home which was teeming with wildflowers … ox-eye daises and wild mallow, clover and teasel, campion and vipers bugloss … and so many Umbelliferae!
The Umbelliferae … wild carrot and parsnip, hogweed … make fantastic subjects for cyanotype prints … sometimes they look like starbursts, sometimes like snowflakes, always they look beautiful.
Another favourite is the wild mallow it has such delicate petals that when I print with it you can see all the veins and each petal it also has the sweetest are at its heart.
Knee-deep, Thigh-deep Blankets of Wildflowers
I live very close to Salisbury Plain, a chalk plateau in the southwest of England which covers 300 square miles. For over 100 years, Salisbury Plain has been home to a massive military training area. Because this area is mostly inaccessible to the public, the Plain is a wildlife haven, with two national nature reserves, that are home to many rare species of plants. And there is so much wildlife … deer and hares, rabbits and badgers … and so many different species of birds, some incredibly rare.
Summer on the Plain is quite astonishing. There are vast swathes of wildflowers to be found … knee-deep, thigh-deep blankets of vipers bugloss or dropwort, wild heliotrope or wild field poppies, weld or sainfoin or mignonette … and every year it’s different.
A couple of years ago, the byways were lined by mile upon mile of bugloss and weld. This summer it’s dropwort and pyramidal orchids that hold sway.
There are huge swathes of dropwort that fill the air with their sweet, heady scent, so that sometimes it feels as if you are bathing in an ocean of wildflowers.
And the cute vibrant pyramidal orchids, which in the past we would spot here and there, are now to be found in a profusion of purple.
I wonder what wonders we will find on our next trip to the Plain?