20 Apr 2016

Nature in the City: Wildlings Wednesday



Nature is all around us and I can get my daily dose from nearby Hampstead Heath but, try as I might to ignore it, there's also a lot of bricks and mortar around.  That's London for you. Some of the architecture around here is brutal - in a modernist way - the local secondary school for example -while elsewhere in the neighbourhood there are parks and turrets, canals, domes and houses with lovely old walls and neatly planted front gardens. The contrast of old and new, concrete and nature is a daily sight potentially more so here than in the countryside.

Even in this all-embracing environment there are sights that just don't fit and one of these is the ability of plants to self seed into the most obscure places. It's awesome. Photographer Paul Debois held a similar fascination for this subject which he captured in his 'Wildlings' exhibition a couple of years ago.

The definition of a wildling is a plant that's escaped from cultivation.  I like that, the idea of a plant planning on how to tunnel out of a tidy garden or leap over the boundary wall - or just the thought of plants having a secret desire to live life on the other side.

Some wildlings are welcome - purple campanula is a regular sight growing out of walls around here, as is Corydalis lutea - and a memory of the lily of the valley and mint that crept into my mother's garden under the next door neighbour's fence has just come to mind. But around here, I'll take what I can get.  These for example, spotted on a sunny spring walk - gives a whole new meaning to the phrase 'a weed is only a plant in the wrong place'!



2 types of fern and herb-Robert | Polystichum setiferum | railway bluebells 


Clockwise from top left:
Calendula on the railway embankment,
Feverfew, Brunnera, Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) all growing amongst stone pavers.


Random facts:
Apparently fresh leaves of Herb Robert can be used in salads or to make tea and are said to repel mosquitoes if rubbed on the skin.  



10 comments:

  1. It is so easy not to notice these "Wildlings", one of my blogging friends is always featuring them and has made me look more closely to see what I can find. It's amazing how so much can grow in such hostile environments, isn't nature wonderful! Sarah x

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    1. Ooh, sounds like a blog that I'd like to read! Do tell, if you happen to pop back to this comment thread, Sarah. I love the perseverance of plants - I recall the most beautiful pink poppies that grew by the railway at the city farm a few years ago; don't know where they came from or where they went and, sadly, didn't get a photo. :o( Cx

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  2. I love to see plants growing out of walls and paving stones. There are some that I see on the school run in the mornings, I always look out for them. And in the garden there's a daisy growing out of bricks in the path. It's amazing how they manage to survive isn't it. CJ xx

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    1. There's an enormous self-seeded Euphorbia growing out of a vertical brick wall in the gardens here. It must have found a tiny gap in the mortar and made itself a home and now I can't bring myself to pull it out, even though it's practically blocking the steps down into the garden! I hope to grow Erigeron daisies in the garden this year in the hope that they'll colonise the walls and paths! Cxx

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  3. Yesterday I was looking at "Foundlings" - something (originally a human baby!) abandoned by someone, but adopted / picked-up by another. A different name for what we usually call a volunteer?

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    1. Ah, I hadn't thought about that! I know the term 'foundling' as there is a Foundling Museum in London, a remnant of the Foundling Hospital where mothers left their babies, hoping one day to be able to return for them. Very sad and poignant.

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  4. Plants are flipping amazing. They colonise an abandoned space or any tiny crevice as quick as you blink. It cheers me up immensely.

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    1. I'd have to agree! What's even more amazing is that plants that you struggle to grow in the garden will happily sprout in the guttering of someone's house! (Or somewhere equally inappropriate.)

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  5. Interesting post and good pictures. It's always nice to see pot marigolds. Flighty xx

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  6. I love wildings not least for their determination to have a life wherever and whenever they choose. We have self-seeded hollyhocks and Erigeron karvinskianus popping up all over the pavement where it meets the houses in the back lane. And out the front a terrace of fifty houses with front doors opening onto the street the steps are awash with Alpine campanulas.

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Caro x

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