2017 Flower Reports

Flower report 2017

By Charles Helm

The early months of 2017 were again relatively mild, with scant frosts: but the difference this year was that the weather was dry, very different from in 2016. Spring followed, again mainly dry: conditions which laid the foundations of the main flowering season.
Again we saw Celandine flowering on January 1st, near Spennithorne and, only a few days later, on a sunny bank near Preston under Scar. The first Snowdrops appeared in mid-January, in the usual places, and flowered well throughout February, mainly over by mid-March. Aconite flowers seemed to be over quickly.
Dog's Mercury was out in mid-February, with leaves of Cuckoo Pint and Cow Parsley.
Early March saw the first Wood Anemone flowers along Low Lane and, during a spring-like warm spell Celandine prospered and Blackthorn bloomed. Rapidly growing Ransoms leaves appeared. In late March Coltsfoot, Marsh Marigold, Golden Saxifrage and Violets flowered. Primrose and Moschatel were seen in Coverdale, and white Violets in a West Witton roadside. Shortly thereafter Cowslip flowered.
April started cold, but continued very dry. On 2nd Great Horsetail "flowered" at Locker Tarn. Plants bloomed quickly so that by mid-month Red Campion, Bluebell, Ransoms, Ground Ivy, Sweet Cicely, and Greater Stitchwort were out. Oxlip flowered between Lord's and Wensley bridges. On the riverside path between Cover bridge and Middleham were noted Goldilocks and other Buttercups, Meadow Saxifrage, Milkmaids and, at the Castle, Fairy Foxglove. May blossom was plentiful by the 1st: by which time there had been no rain for several weeks. Walking from Wensley to Redmire over 50 species were flowering including Yellow Pimpernel, Wood Sorrel and Sweet Cecily. But May continued cold. Along Leyburn Shawl Rockrose and Good King Henry flowered, and near Preston Greater Celandine and Early Purple Orchid. In Leyburn Glebe Field, earlier than usual, Yellow Rattle, Greater Burnet, Milkwort, Red Clover, and Lady's Mantle were a ll out, but there was very little grass growth. White Star of Bethlehem flowered near Wensley, and by the end of May Ragged Robin. Butterwort and Bird's Eye Primrose were abundant at Locker Tarn.
On June 2nd Rosebay Willowherb flowered in Collywath Lane, Harmby; remarkably early for a flower usually prolific later in summer. On 3rd on Thornton Rust Moor we saw many Bird's Eye Primrose and a couple of new (to most of us!) species: Hutchinsia and Lesser Twayblade. On 8th Meadow Saxifrage had finished in Richmond. Meadow Cranesbill flowers started in roadside verges, and Harebell and Knapweed followed. Later Jenny White and others reported Bee Orchid flowers in the Glebe Field. Near the end of the month there were several wet days, but by then most of the regular summer flowers had opened, including Betony, Agrimony, and Greater Bellflower (again very early).
On the Keld flower walk on July 1st there were Melancholy Thistle, New Zealand Willowherb and still a few late Primrose but, in the Muker meadows, most Yellow Rattle was in seed. The Waitby Greenrigg walk on 10th was pasting memorable for two reasons: the incessant rain, and the amazing flowers - lots of Marsh Helleborine, Fragrant and Fly Orchids, Twayblade, a few Sawwort, and many more. Marjoram flowered in Low Lane, with abundant Meadow Cranesbill, now joined by Meadowsweet.

In early August an unusual plant appeared on Leyburn Shawl close to where the path branches: Thorn-apple (Datura stramonium). This poisonous plant was last seen near Eshington Bridge and another in rubble near Thornton Rust in 2006, when we speculated that it was from seed in bird food, or garden seed packets. Eventually four conker-like fruits formed, but then all disappeared in path-edge strimming in mid September. During a walk out along the Shawl and back along the Ure bank from Wensley we noted over 100 species flowering, including Ploughman's Spikenard, Crow Garlic, Greater Knapweed, Chicory, Yellow Loosestrife and Wild Basil. In late August we found one of the most spectacular flower displays of 2017: a stunning area of Autumn Colchicum in a field corner along Bay Bolton Avenue up to Park Gate Farm near West Witton. Also near West Witton Carline Thistle was seen on Green Gate.

Summer flowering continued throughout September, another cold month, but by now, with the early spring flowerings, many were setting seed. It was a surprise to find Cowslip still flowering at Nosterfield on 24th. Autumn fruits were now on the trees and hedgerows. Conkers were early and plentiful: acorns less so. Haw, Holly, and Rowan berries were abundant. After the very dry early conditions grass in the fields recovered during the summer, and remained green thereafter. In October Spring Sandwort still flowered on Greets Hill.

November continued mainly dry and a few species continued flowering, but with heavy rain in the upper dale followed by a frosty period, then snow, the countryside took on more of a wintry look. In mid-month Deborah found many recently emerged Bee Orchid rosettes at Marfield: a new flower there and a hint of things to come in 2018!

Our 2018 Flower report is now published in our 2019 Bulletin, distributed to our members