Flowers of the Dunes

The south-west coast of Wales is edged with a wide band of yellow sand along much of its length from Crumlin Burrows on Swansea Bay, along the northern edge of the Gower, Cefn Padraig and Cefn Sidan to the west of Llanelli and over the dunes at Penbre to Pendine and the sandy beaches of South Pembrokeshire beyond. This forms a calcium-rich habitat between the sea and the acid soils of most of West Wales. There are occasional outcrops of lime from a narrow band running between the coal measures in the south and from the old red sandstone of the Brecon Beacons further north. But it is on the sand dunes where plants of the limestone areas grow in this part of the west. At Pendine the lime-loving yellow crosswort grows in abundance on the sea side of the dunes, while on the land side there is sheep sorrel which is usually only found on acid soils. Everywhere on the dunes at Pendine the pyramidal orchid grows and also the brilliant blue vipers bugloss which has bristly hairs and protruding stamens giving the whole plant a fearsome appearance. Here too, I found the delicate round leaved brookweed in a willow wood where the dunes end, and then on a desolate patch, marsh hellborine, blue fleabane (in the dryer patches) and yellow wort among many such jewels of the greenworld, some of them seen for the first time. Most exciting of all I found, in a dry sandy patch between dune and heath, a tiny green fern which alone would have made the walk in the rain worthwhile: moonwort. Just as I always blow a kiss the New Moon when I see her silver crescent flashing in the sky, so I did to this fern, in reverence of the magic that such things bring to our lives


Magaly Guerrero said...

You know? I can be having a bad day and as soon as I read your latest post everything seems much better. You have such an eye to see the best in things. You don't see a lonely fern in the middle of nowhere, but a miraculous traveler that has made it no matter what. I say it again, I enjoy seeing the world through such poetic eyes ;(

Bo said...

That was beautiful, as always. Only seen moonwort once, and had never even HEARD of blue fleabane! (Yellow, yes.)

Wonderful writing, thanks for it.