Documenting the seasons of coastal Dorset. I'm a complete amateur so don't trust I'm always right. If ever you see I'm wrong - whether with identifications or in anything else - do say!

Monday, 4 June 2012

THE LAST PLANT IN ENGLAND


If you keep walking and walking in England, you will eventually come to the sea.

Rocks and sea, right at the end of Portland Bill in Dorset
If you arrive at the Welsh or Scottish border first, keep going - and the same, eventually, applies.

In some places, land takes a while to dissolve and you will find yourself sinking before you get to the swimming. In others the swimming is pleasant. You arrive, take off your clothes, put on your swimming gear, paddle out - and off you go. (Assuming you can swim.) In others, if you don't stop, you fall off.

Portland Bill is the fall off variety. There are a couple of boat cranes but no way down for swimmers. Which is lucky - for you'd be sucked under, drawn out or smashed up if you tried. The sea here is dangerous. The waves can be massive. The waters are always strong and choppy. The currents famously powerful. Do not be deceived by that blue view.

If you arrive by walking along the East Cliffs, you can find yourself ankle deep in flowers. Keep going, past the last lighthouse . . . and you are in one of the Dorset other-worlds.

I did that. I kept walking till I had to stop. If you look up to the right (in the picture above) there's a fence. This part of the world is popular with industries like the navy . . . QinetiQ  . . . I'm not sure who's up there (though I expect there's a notice) but . . . even if I could get over those rocks, I would have to turn back.

Rocks and sea, right at the end of Portland Bill in Dorset

But I can't.

Which is why I am searching here for the last plant in England. In other places, geographically, the first is also the last, but at the end of Portland Bill - it is definitely the last. You can come from only one direction . . . then, unless you are to dry out or bake or freeze (not literally - but it does get very cold in winter) or be blown into tatters . . . you have turn back.

But where is that plant? How can I find the last plant in England if there isn't a plant in sight?

Rocks, right at the end of Portland Bill in Dorset




Scan round.

Nothing.

(The lighthouse isn't a plant.)

Portland Bill Lighthouse

Rocks / Cliff with  Greater Sea-spurrey - Spergularia media just about visible at their foot



I walk ahead . . . and look behind in case there's something I've missed. Yes! There's a splodge over there - about a foot of something flat on the ground.

I go closer. A plant!



Greater Sea-spurrey - Spergularia media - with rocks ahead


By putting the camera behind it, we can see the world as it sees it.

But only at home, when we are out of the glaring light . . .












have enlarged the picture . . .

and have zoomed in . . .

Small plants of Rocks / Cliff with  Greater Sea-spurrey - Spergularia media - just about visible growing between stones

do we really see what's really there

I'd missed what I'd walked on.

Do you know the poem 'Cats Sleep Anywhere' by Eleanor Farjeon? . . . 'Cats sleep anywhere, any table, any chair. Top of piano, window ledge, in the middle, on the edge . . . '? That's what plants do too.

Greater Sea-spurrey - Spergularia media - flowering
And the plant? Greater Sea-spurrey - Spergularia media 

And, even though they are small . . . they flower . . . which is what this one was doing, all to itself and to a multitude of little, easily walked on, neighbours. (Not that the place was exactly crowded with people - for all that a few minutes walk away there's a cafe where you can buy a cup of tea and an ice cream.)


21 comments:

Down by the sea said...

I love your search for the last plant on Portland, it is beautiful and well worth seeking and finding.
Sarah x

Tim said...

I love the originality of your posts. Thanks for sharing :)

Plant Chaser said...

This post was an excellent read. I wonder if you would have still written it had you not found the Spergularia. Still, I am happier that you did find the last plant. Well done! -- Bom

Lucy said...

Hi Sarah - I expect you have done something similar - not necessarily the last plant but along those lines.

Thanks Tim.

Hi, Bom - of course I would have written it for there has to be a last plant. If it had not been that one, it would have been another, perhaps of a different variety. Indeed, I know what the next one was - and the next, and the next but putting them all in this post would have made it too long. After that, there is grass and . . . suddenly . . . a tremendous blast of colour and variety. I find it fascinating because it is so very different from my usual hedgerow habitat where everything is bunged in and tangled up together.

Kristi said...

Such a welcome contrast to the rocks.

Crafty Gardener said...

Don't you love those unexpected captures in the photos that we don't see when we are busy taking the photo with our focus on the main object. Love the rock photos, stark yet beautiful, with so many tales to tell.

Dimple said...

This was an enjoyable search; the last plant (and its friends) is beautiful.

I had never heard the poem before, it made me laugh, and it is so true!

Hollis said...

Enjoyable story and a nice way to launch this first day back at work ... thanks so much.

hurtlingtowards60 said...

Love it! Well done on your search for the last plant. :-)

Toffeeapple said...

And very pretty it is too. I like your lateral thinking.

Diana of Elephants Eye said...

I was caught by the lighthouse, tucked in discreetly, almost an afterthought. Where usually they are out there, and in your face.

Donna said...

Love your search and what a lovely little plant to find in between all the rock and stone.

squirrelbasket said...

A bit of a cliffhanger, but I loved the ending :)

Bridget said...

Beautiful post! I'm glad your persistence paid off.

Bangchik and Kakdah said...

Worth it! complete with lovely flowers...

Mark Willis said...

Love the storyline presentation of this post! The last plant in England according to me would be at Land's End (I'm a Cornishman, so I would say that, wouldn't I?) - but it might well be of the same variety - or possibly Sea Pink.

Gardens at Waters East said...

Lucy, I so loved reading your posting today. Great description of walking along the shore. Reminds me of here on Lake Michigan and my many walks and the small plants I encounter in unexpected places. Really a great posting today. Glad I visited. Jack

Lucy said...

Hello Kristi - I was taken aback that I didn't see plants straight away and was wondering what kind of post it would be if I had to go much further before I found anything. I am more used to rocks washed by the sea and covered in seaweed.

Hello Crafty Gardener. You are right. I'm always excited to see pollen grains in photos - and I often find creatures in pictures that I hadn't noticed was there.

(Will return to say a proper hello to the rest of you later! Meanwhile, here's a little 'Hi!' Hi!)

David, Little Omenden Farm and Nursery said...

Puts me in mind of a story from my science fiction phase in the early 70's:some space/time travellers return to an afflicted earth far in the future only to find some mysterious buildings and a patch of sparse grass.Disturbing.

Rowan said...

An enjoyable postand written from an unusual point of view. Plants are amazing and seem to be able to live in the most unlikely places and conditions. The sea spurrey is really pretty too when seen close up.

elaine rickett said...

Isn't it amazing that a plant can survive under such harsh conditions - I love finding plants in unusual places - a huge valerian plant growing out of a wall, a red hot poker on top of a railway bridge. Enjoyed the post Lucy - you have a keen eye.