Meadow Saxifrage in Bradwell

 In Derbyshire walks, Environment

My recent article on bluebells at Chatsworth reminded me of other flowers I love. The fields around Bradwell are currently displaying masses of meadow saxifrage. When I lived down south this was a rare flower. I only know that because when I managed cemeteries and crematoria in Croydon, staff found these flowers in one of our conservation zones. They called me to see if I could recognise them. It was no problem, this being a flower that somehow stayed in my mind from reading wildflower books. At Croydon, that flower was a remnant of a long gone Victorian meadow. Most city cemeteries were located at the edge of suburbia, usually on hay meadow. That was because vast quantities of horses used in the city needed hay. Sometimes, the flowers hung on. The meadow saxifrage in Bradwell is also hanging on.

Unploughable fields

Most of the fields in the Peak District have been ploughed and re-seeded. The farmer wants grass, unaware that the other plants, often what we would call herbs, offer so much nutrition. Before the field is ploughed, a herbicide is used to kill the present vegetation. I recently ran from Ashford to Monsal Head and not a flower in the fields. It looks green and pleasant to all, the unaware, who see it. The farmer himself, with a knapsack sprayer on his back, was out killing nettles, thistle and any errant plant. However, later fields and then the steep edge of the valley were floristic. Some farmers understand that it is not the end of the world to leave some areas to nature. Usually, that is the rough areas, often where rock sticks out and threatens to damage the plough.

Meadow saxifrage in Bradwell

A field we walk is currently more like a garden, a mass of flowering species including this flower. In amongst those is pignut, another of my favourites. Further on, a mass of meadow saxifrage grows along a wall top. This wall is covered in moss and I think that the long period of rain in spring helped the saxifrage to germinate. I am fortunate, being able to find joy in seeing such things. It also means I have no need for meditation or mildfulness. My spirit thrives on a simple flower, one that throws a peculiar whiteness in my face and shouts, look at me.

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Bluebells at ChatsworthThe Great Ridge