The weather in our area of the south of England has been relatively good. The garden is looking very green, with varying colours appearing within the vegetation. The odd day of rain, really seems to help the garden get through the dry hot times. Some of you may be surprised about how I am going on about the hot weather ............. well we are in the lucky position, that even though our garden is small, it is surrounded by a brick wall, so it has somewhat its own little micro-climate.
Despite this positivity we decided to escape last Sunday to Lepe Beach. This is located the other side of Southampton Water and is within the New Forest National Park. This area of coastline and the adjoining marine habitats, have a variety of important conservation designations. It is within the Solent and Southampton RAMSAR (a wetland habitat global designation), Solent and Southampton Special Protection Area (SPA), Solent Maritime Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and also smaller areas include Lepe Point National Nature Reserve (NNR) and the North Solent Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
One of the reasons for going was to see if we could find some Restharrow in bloom, for the Irish Botanical Alphabet that I am involved with. No luck there ! Never the less we found one of my favourite plants - the Yellow-horned Poppy Glaucium flavum.
Last year I found some plants at our local beach, but never the numbers that we found here at Lepe.
This plant is found on shingle banks and beaches and is generally in bloom between June and September, with each flower only lasting a day. The flowers are a beautiful sunshine yellow, and its leaves are a glaucous greeny-blue with a waxy, hairy surface.
The most distinctive feature of this plant are the thin curving, sometimes twisting seedpods, which can reach to 30cms long.
If the plant is broken, it can exude a yellow sap which is poisonous, so care must be taken.
It was once thought to be good for applying to bruises, hence it was known as 'bruiseroot'.
Back to Lepe beach - as you walk eastwards along the shore, you approach an area where the Mulberry harbours were assembled prior to the D-Day landings. Many vessels also left this area for the same purpose. It was along this stretch that we came across the numerous plants, some bordering the fence of the NNR, others scattered across the upper beach.
We settled down and found a suitable spot for sketching the plants. Hubby went off to look at the remnants of the Mulberry harbour construction area and I set to portraying what I could of these fascinating plants.
I hadn't realised how windy the spot would be. It was difficult keeping any part of the plant still, especially the petals. I carried on and got as much information down on paper as I could. What I wanted to be detailed painted observations, ended up being more of a sketch, filled in with a somewhat 'looser' painting style. I was happy with the results though.
With a small part of a plant in my collection box, a couple of more detailed studies were completed back at home. The leaf, a petal and the early formation of the seedpod with some of the stamens still attached.
As always, I like to find out more about the plant that I am thinking of doing a painting of. One series of books that is always my first 'port of call' is the 'Drawings of British Plants' by Stella Ross-Craig. Each of the books consists of line drawings showing all parts of the plant and at various stages of growth.
Yellow-horned Poppy © G.Bell and Sons 1948
I then remembered that I had a painting by my good friend and fellow artist, Connie Harrison. Connie is wonderful artist with a really good sense of design. This painting I bought as a folio last year at one of the SFP exhibitions.
© Connie Harrison 2012
I hope you enjoyed this post. I'll try not to leave so long next time ! In a couple of weeks we are off to Monmouthshire and will be exploring some of the Wye Valley. I'll have my new Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook in tow ! In the meantime, here are a couple more pictures of the Yellow-horned poppy.