Saturday, 19 April 2014

In Search of the Pasque Flower

8th April 2014

The Pasque Flower is very rare being found at only 19 sites in the UK, and is the county flower of Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire. Its local stronghold is Church Hill on Therfield Heath and I have been meaning to go up there and photograph the flowers for over 30 years now but have never got round to it. However, now I am armed with my new macro lens this year was the year. They flower around Easter time but the exact period is rather weather dependent so we set off in the hope that we had got it about right.

The weather forecast was for sunny spells but with a 15mph westerly blow which is not conducive to flower photography, but when we arrived on the heath the wind was almost gale-force and difficult to walk against. As we arrived at the end of the wood by the golf course we turned onto Church Hill and had hoped to see a carpet of purple flowers. There were none.

The hill has an extremely short sward due to the substantial rabbit population and a few plants were staking their claim on this fairly inhospitable chalkland. It was noticeable that the Cowslips were relatively short compared to their relatives living in more sheltered conditions, and a few bare patches were home to the Common Dog Violet. There was precious little else.

We continued our way up the hill and came across this structure. Could this be the gateway to the Pasque Flowers? We opened the gate and went through, being careful to close the gate behind us.

But instead of taking us to the Pasque Flowers, it led us to this important public announcement. It is refreshing to know the Police are looking after the golf course, but it is a shame the printer cartridge ran out before detailing the punishment if found guilty.

Things were not looking good. We continued to scour the various hills but no sign of any purple flowers or even any buds. But at that point we climbed on to the last hillock and there before us were a number of these beautiful flowers dotted around. This is a very poor season by comparison, as in good years the plants can number several thousands, but two hundred is quite sufficient for a few photographs. Mission accomplished.

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