BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘vetch’

#365daysofbiking Down the tracks

May 17th – At the other end of Brownhills, since the weather has dried out, the McLean Way is looking and riding rather well at the moment, I must say.

This is the new trail created by volunteers on the trackbed of the defunct South Staffordshire Railway that ran from Walsall to Lichfield.

It’s alive with wild flowers like vetch, birdsfoot trefoil, buttercups and all manner of rarities. There are birds from wrens to buzzards, and you even get foxes and deer down here.

With people taking exercise during lockdown, it can get quite busy but when you do catch it quiet, it’s a lovely spot.

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#365daysofbiking Kidney at stake:

June 7th – Kidney vetch is an odd little wildflower, which consists of tiny yellow flowers cluster around a fluffy, downy head. I always imagine it’s a plant of late summer for some reason, and it’s appearance in midsummer always surprises me.

It grows profusely on the grass around the top of the new pond embankment at Clayhanger, one of the few places I know it exist, yet every year, like the orchids, it’s cut down by Canal and River Trust’s mowing team who insist on obliterating anything in their path.

I preferred canals when they were more unkempt, if I’m honest.

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June 28th – One thing that is absolutely beautiful this year and I haven’t mentioned to my shame is the vetch. This beautiful, delicate purple flower is absolutely everywhere and very beautiful.

It’s one of my favourite summer flowers and lasts for ages, whilst growing in some of the most inhospitable edge lands.

A real summer treasure.

May 31st – Since were in the largely purple phase of flowering now, it would be wrong to overlook this tiny gem. Prolific on grass verges, towpath margins and anywhere with decent light and room to spread, vetch is a gorgeous, long lasting lilac-violet colour and brightens many otherwise dull corners.

It really is a highlight of summer and one I look forward to enjoying seeing.

July 13th – Back on the bike, the vetch at Walsall Wood is very long lasting and profuse this year.

A lovely purple flower, it grows in scrubs, edge lands and hedgerows, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a good year for it.

Wonderful to see.

July 4th – Kidney vetch is a local oddity. I only know of it growing in two spots hereabouts – on the bank above the new pond at Clayhanger, and alongside the cycleway running along the old rail line through the Goscote Valley. These two places are entirely consistent with the usual habitat of the plant: cuffs, slopes and sandy soils. 

It’s a fascinating flower, little yellow buds seemingly on little fluffy white balls of cotton-like fibre.

A real curiosity that’s worth looking out for.

June 26th – Cutting across the common, there are plenty of flowers in bloom, and the bees are busy. Blues and purples seem the order of the day, with late forget-me-nots, purple comfrey vetch and others all showing well. 

Also rather lovely are the dandelions – not just those flowering, but those gone to seed, too – such lovely, natural engineering.

June 24th – And by the canal in Leamore, just near Pratts Mill Bridge, a clump of purple vetch was proving irresistible to the bees, who buzzed around it with an air of frantic, but random purpose.

The vetch, like many other flowers is profuse this year. I hope the bees prosper from it. They need our support…

June 24th – The wildflowers have peaked now – as summer draws on, only the old familiars will really remain as the more showy specimens fade. One of my favourite long lasting flowers – up there with birds foot trefoil – is this vetch, an electric blue/violet delight. It’s growing in abundance on Clayhanger Common and near the Pier Street Bridge in Brownhills, and is really rather splendid. 

It always seems alive with bugs, too, so it serves a useful purpose to boot.

May 16th – Early summer, I guess now. I noted yesterday the dog roses in Tyburn, Birmingham, yet hadn’t noticed the highly fragrant bush on Clayhanger Common, just by the canal near Catshill Junction. This time of year is predominantly purple, pink and blue for flowers. Close by, a gorgeous cornflower, and a tiny, delicate vetch.

The flowers will be excellent for the next month or so. Bring it on!