Field meeting reports

Meeting date: 28 May 2003

(Leader: Rita Hemsley)

Someone was bound to use the word ‘balmy’ to describe the evening and it was as well that this was done early on in the meeting so that we could concentrate on the survey of land on the Downs above the Adur. Rita led us with an unobtrusive sense of purpose through field and wood as dusk began to fall gently on our efforts. There was a good array of plants including, in one field, an unusual quantity of Carex spicata (Spiked Sedge). The most remarkable discovery of the evening, however, was a group of five Helleborus foetidus (Stinking Hellebore) in a clearing in one of the woods. Such is the history of the relationship of this plant with Sussex Man that it is difficult to pronounce on the origin of any given specimen encountered in the wild and I fear that the inclination among most members of the party was to assume ‘garden origin’. Circumstantial evidence to the contrary view comes from the owner herself, who had not introduced these plants in the 34 years of her occupancy, and also from an otherwise unspecified record for ‘Steyning’ in the mid 19th Century. I am, however, painfully aware of cynics out there who will suspect skulduggery since the author of that record, W. B. Hemsley, is surely some distant connection of Rita’s.