Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Wonderful Wild Flowers


20 members of Louth U3A, many of whom are also LAG members, enjoyed a bright sunny day with brilliant cloudscapes and an extremely knowledgeable guide. It could not have been better. Harry Turner, the volunteer warden at Red Hill has worked so hard for the last decade to convert barley fields into wild flower meadows that have become recognised as an SSSI and as a Coronation Meadow.
We walked across a ridge and up and down hilly meadows with stunning views and excellent visibility. We saw Lincoln cathedral 20 miles away! Harry identified the flowers - I jotted down 80 species - and butterflies whilst describing the ways in which he had managed the site in cooperation with the LWT, councils and other public agencies.
We collected £27 for the LWT and furthermore some of us agreed to join with members of the Louth Area Group of the LWT to provide some 'hands on' assistance to Harry later in the year. Thanks to Sue Coxon for the group shot:  

Some interesting 'Harry facts'.
  • The chalk and sandstone strata of rocks exposed by the quarrying continue across eastern England to emerge as Hunstanton cliffs.
  • Until 1933 Red Hill quarry was actively producing limestone with the chalk being burnt in an earth kiln.
  • The LWT have had the site since 1948.
  • LWT sources provide wild flower seeds for farmers to sow on the verges of their fields.
  • 9 specimens of fairly rare Kidney Vetch have been specially seeded to cover an acre.
  • Tor grass on the scarp slope is the home of the caterpillars of White Marbled butterflies.
  • The Bladder Campion is the sole food source for the tiny moth - Coleophora silenella
  • The soil has to be poor for wild flowers to flourish
  • White clover is not good for a wild flower meadow as it fixes the nitrogen in the soil too efficiently.
  • The very rare Horseshoe vetch, Blue Milkwort, together with rare Yellow Wort and Pasque Flower thrive at Red Hill.
  • Weld - a plant with metre high spike flowers - can be processed to produce a yellow dye.
  • Eyebright is used to treat eye infections and until recently was grown commercially for 'Optrex'.

Self heal - you probably have it growing in your lawn! Prior to World War II, it was used to staunch bleeding and for treating heart disease. A decoction of the leaves was used to treat sore throats and internal bleeding. It is used as an anti-inflammatory and has anti-allergic activity. In western medicine it is used externally for treating minor injuries, sores, burns, bruises and can also be used as a mouthwash to treat mouth ulcers.
Ray Woodcock


  1. About 55 million years ago the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) is marked by the Red Chalk. This was a time of global warming, caused by increased carbon dioxide in the air. Ocean acidification resulted in the mass die-off of most of the creatures whose shells formed the Chalk. The deposition of white Chalk only resumed after some 100,000 years. The man-made emissions of carbon dioxide are now causing a more rapid increase in ocean acidity than had occurred at the PETM. The consequential marine die-off now seems inevitable. This week’s issue of Newsweek features the disaster we have wrought.

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