November Wildflowers

November Wildflowers

Although wildflowers are fewer and farther between in the winter months., that just makes finding them even more exciting. The milder Autumn weather that we are enjoying this year has extended the wildflower season for some hardy species. Here is a November round-up of of wildflowers seen around the Bracknell/Reading area.

Sulham Gap

November Wildflowers
Wild radish flourishes at Sulham.

Sulham Woods is a really popular dog walking area, just beyond Tilehurst. The whole area is criss-crossed with footpaths.  The woods slope down westwards towards the valley of Sulham Brook and the River Pang, which flow side-by-side from south to north. There are woodland and copses throughout the area, on the high ground and also on the slopes and lower down in the valley. The woodlands are interspersed with fields and open grassy stretches of countryside. In these open areas, where the winter sunlight still warms the ground, it is not too difficult to find November wildflowers.

 

Wild radish grows abundantly across the fields between the woods.  Both  the white and yellow varieties are plentiful here. Wild radish is edible and grows to  a metre tall.  It has dark green, deeply lobed leaves and the roots are white, long and slender with a tough outer core. Peel before eating.

Tall Melilot, November Wildflowers

Tall Melilot also grows here but there are only a few plants still flowering in November. The stems grow about up to 1.5 metres. The main stem is strongly ridged and the bright yellow, pea-like flowers grow along the smaller branch-like stems.

Swinley Forest

Swinley Forest
Swinley Forest

In the open spaces at  Swinley Forest, Bracknell there are plenty of November wildflowers to be found. The woodland is part of the Crown Estate,  stretching over 2,600 acres from Bracknell to Crowthorne. The Look Out is based at the edge of Swinley Forest and is a popular place to begin exploring the area.

Bracken.

Today, Swinley Forest is mainly comprised of Scots pine trees. Among the trees bracken,  covers much of the ground and is one of the most common British ferns.  Dying back in the Autumn,  bracken turns orange and brown during Winter months.

Red Dead Nettle.

red dead nettle November Wildflowers

Red dead nettle can still be seen here in November. The leaves are aromatic, hairy and heart-shaped with toothed edges. Some leaves near the top of the plant have a lovely purple tint.

Common Field Speedwell.

Common field speedwell November Wildflowers

Common field speedwell is a low, short and sprawling plant with branched stems and hairy leaves.  Growing throughout the year in cultivated grounds, gardens, and arable fields. The pretty, blue flowers of the common field speedwell are widely seen throughout Britain.

Lesser Hawkbit

Lesser hawkbit, November Wildflowers

Lesser hawkbit is a short, slightly hairy plant without leaves or leaf-like bracts on the stem. Lesser hawkbit grows in grassy places and it particularly likes sandy or chalky soils. The best months to see Lesser hawkbit flowering are from June to October.

Happy Wildflower hunting in November.

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Kim Mackenzy Andrews is a children’s book author, nature writer, photographer, and artist.

Find her Nature books for children on Amazon.

Wildlife articles for nature lovers: – patch reporting for the BBC Wildlife magazine.

Kim Mackenzy Andrews - Childrens Author

Kim Mackenzy Andrews  Children’s Author
https//: www.facebook.com/KimMackenzyAndrewsChildrensAuthor
Twitter:@Kim_M_Andrews

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Tips for Photographing Wildflowers

Wildflower Photography Tips:-

Wildflower photographs

for the non-photographer.

If you don’t have a  camera or just didn’t bring it with you when you spot a wonderful wildflower, you can still take some great photos using a mobile phone camera. These wildflower photography tips will help you.

Scabious Wildfower photography

Sharper images.

Our eyes are always drawn to the sharpest part of an image so consider carefully which part of the wildflower you want to be in focus.

Using a tripod is always helpful but they take time to set up. Shoot lots and lots of photographs because wildflowers are often so gentle that the slightest breeze sends the flowers bouncing and bobbing. Try to protect them from the wind, using your own body or get a friend to hold your jacket as a shield. This can be difficult and also sometimes means that the lighting direction becomes spoilt by your own shadow.  You can always try to capture the flower in between the movements of the wind. Again, you will need to shoot lots and lots to stand the best chance of a sharp result.

Background wildflower photography

Best backgrounds.

A good background is essential because it helps to draw attention to the main subject of the flower. Often the best backgrounds are:-

1) a strong contrast colour from the flower

2) smooth and seamless

3) out of focus

You may need to look around to find the best bloom that with a background made up of one smooth colour which contrasts well with the flower. To get the out of focus background without the use of any specialist equipment or lenses, you simply need to maximise the distance between the flower and the background.

wildflower photography

Creating flower portraits.

The perspective you choose when you take your photograph makes a big difference. If you stand directly above the flower (the most natural angle in many ways) you will be looking down on the flower and this psychologically diminishes feelings of friendliness. To create a more intimate and friendly feeling it will help to make the viewpoint eye to eye. This may mean lying down on wet grass or other unpleasant surfaces, but the results will be worth it.

leave no trace

Leaving no trace.

Be careful where you step. Stick to paths where possible.

Clean away seeds from your shoes and backpack before and after your hike. To help prevent the spread of invasive species.

Only clear dead vegetation from your backgrounds. Don’t remove anything that’s growing no matter how tempting.

Leaving no trace ensures that the next visitor can enjoy the same experience but importantly it greatly increases the chances for wildflowers to return again next year.

wildflower photographs

Make identification easier.

One of the most rewarding aspects of wildflower photography is learning how to identify them. When we can place a name on something, we feel more connected to it. To help with this process, take photographs from lots of different angles. Take photographs of the leaves, both the stem leaves and basal leaves as these may be different shapes or sizes. See how the leaves attach themselves to the stem, e.g. some will have stalks, some will clasp the stem. They may be arranged in directly opposite sides of the stem or be alternately placed on the stem. Look to see whether the stem or leaves have any hairs on them. If there are seed heads, photograph these for reference also as their shape and size are likely to prove important. All these details can help as you look through any wildflower guidebook. When you have identified your flower then label your photograph. If you are not sure what it is, then consider its specific location as that can also provide important clues. If you are stuck and would like some friendly help you can try posting it on #wildflowerhour  onTwitter. Lots of keen experts are online between 8.00p.m. and 9.00p.m. on Sunday evenings to help if they can.  I recommend posting your photos, alongside the question:- Can anyone help with ID? Don’t forget the hashtag #wildflowerhour.

Conclusion.

I hope these simple wildflower photography tips will encourage you to capture the next beautiful or interesting wildflower that you see. Go on, give it a try.

****************

Kim Mackenzy Andrews is a children’s book author, nature writer, photographer, and artist.

Find her Nature books for children on Amazon.

Wildlife articles for nature lovers: – patch reporting for the BBC Wildlife magazine.

Kim Mackenzy Andrews - Childrens Author

Kim Mackenzy Andrews  Children’s Author
https//: www.facebook.com/KimMackenzyAndrewsChildrensAuthor
Twitter:@Kim_M_Andrews

 *PARENTS* Get your FREE play with nature activity ideas here.

Why are wildflowers important?

WHY ARE WILDFLOWERS IMPORTANT?

Thyme Why are wildflowers important?

We find it relatively easy to feel passionate about some of the miserable experiences and conditions that humankind suffers all over the world. We get upset about many injustices and tragedies. In addition, we can feel distressed about the suffering or the threats to the survival of animals in the world.

But we can quite understandably overlook the predicament of wildflowers – This is easy to do, particularly because not many people even realise why they are important. But this may mean we are sleepwalking into a disaster for the world.

All plants play a vital role on our planet: – here are some of the many reasons why.

 

red planet Why are wildflowers important?

Beautiful landscapes and human wellbeing are closely linked.

Can you imagine how the earth may look if there were no plants?  Currently, forests, meadows, highlands, and lowlands are filled with diverse vegetation which beautifies those landscapes.

tree Why are wildflowers important?

Improving Air Quality.

Wildflowers help the air quality of our planet.  Plants take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen by a process called photosynthesis.  Having plenty of vegetation around ensures we have enough clean air to breathe as it goes through this filtering process.

Waterscape Why are wildflowers important?

Improving Water Quality.

Plants play an important role in the quality of our water.  When water passes through plants and vegetation it is filtered by them. This removes many pollutants. Plants also increase water clarity as they reducing soil erosion. Plant roots can help to hold the soil, sand, and gravel beneath them in their place.

Improving the Weather.

Plants also influence our weather.  Having plenty of trees and plants including wildflowers can moderate climates.  Many droughts happen in places that are devoid of vegetation. Areas without forests record more droughts than elsewhere.

Weather Why are wildflowers important?

Conclusions.

In our town and cities, we may find wildflowers, deliberately planted along the roadsides and verges.  By understanding the reasons why this is a good idea, we can encourage and support to ensure this practice continues and develops more widely.

We can all do our bit to help further as by planting wildflowers in your own garden or windowbox as in this way both plant and animal diversity is increased. Wildflowers also help wildlife, giving them a place to hide and stay. They are a good, natural food source for many insects, birds, and animals.  In turn, these creatures will pollinate the plants and eat them. Helping to spread seeds by dispersing them naturally.

Happy Wildflower Gardening!

****************

Kim Mackenzy Andrews is a children’s book author, nature writer, photographer, and artist.

Find her Nature books for children on Amazon.

Wildlife articles for nature lovers: – patch reporting for the BBC Wildlife magazine.

Kim Mackenzy Andrews - Childrens Author

Kim Mackenzy Andrews  Children’s Author
https//: www.facebook.com/KimMackenzyAndrewsChildrensAuthor
Twitter:@Kim_M_Andrews

 *PARENTS* Get your FREE play with nature activity ideas here.