Bignor Park

Field meeting reports
Picture of Lathyrus linifolius (Bitter Vetch)
Lathyrus linifolius (Bitter Vetch). Photo: Nicholas Sturt

Meeting date: 5 June 2016

(Leader: Peter Jones)

It had been another remarkable day in the field. Driving back, Elisabeth and I debated as usual what ranked as Plant of the Day. Under normal circumstances it could have been Carex pallescens (Pale Sedge), which was present in some quantity in the slightly heathy part of the estate covered in the morning, and then Lathyrus linifolius (Bitter Vetch) is a perennial favourite of ours, and the Hypericum pulchrum (Slender St. John’s-wort) was particularly fine.

Picture of the lunch break in a botanical field meeting
Taking lunch in the meadow. Photo: Nick Sturt

The meadow in which lunch was taken provided further candidates: it is always good to come upon Briza media (Quaking Grass) off the chalk and here it was present with Schedonorus pratensis (Meadow Fescue), Carex panicea (Carnation Sedge), Silene flos-cuculi (Ragged Robin) and Dactylorhiza praetermissa (Southern Marsh-orchid) as evidence of very pleasing old grassland which was much appreciated by the eight members present. Even better was to come. A pond provided plenty of botanical interest plus, in a gorse bush, the nest of a long-tailed tit beautifully crafted out of fragments of lichen and feathers.  After this we proceeded towards the House and were astonished to be examining classic ancient meadow. The first clue was on the mown area where extensive sheets of Chamaemelum nobile (Chamomile) were spotted: surely this should be nominated Plant of the Day? On three sides of the lawn, however, the sward had been allowed to grow up and here was an assemblage of genuine plant celebrities – among more Carex panicea and Schedonorus pratensis there was Silaum silaus (Pepper Saxifrage), Succisa pratensis (Devil’s-bit Scabious), Danthonia decumbens (Heath Grass) and – surely Plant of the Day – Carex pulicaria (Flea Sedge). We are very grateful to Viscount Mersey for permission to roam his estate.