This was my first walk outside of the Liverpool City political boundary since the lockdown began eight weeks ago. Though Sarah gets out all across what we’re calling the City Region for her funeral work, I don’t. So getting just over the municipal border into Knowsley for this Saturday afternoon’s walk was a big deal for me, even if it is only a couple of miles away from where we live in Wavertree.
We were mainly on a wildflower hunt for Sarah’s Identiplant Correspondence Course, one of the highlights of her own lockdown activities. And we weren’t just in the park, but began our searching in the no-one-goes-there edgelands of the middle of the roundabout and approach road verges of the nearby M62 motorway junction. Carefully road-crossing as we searched.
We also remembered when the park contained the National Wildflower Centre, including its beautiful millennium-wall of a community building, run by Landlife but closed since 2017. Looking sorry for itself these days behind it’s locked-in fence, but also a bit like a secret garden that’s not done with us humans yet. Maybe part of Incredible Edible’s plans?
We used to book the place for gigs years ago, when we were running ‘A Sense of Place’ as our business. And we always loved being in there and going up onto its grass roof. So let’s walk around the park then, and also have a nose through that fence.
What’s happened here is a complicated story that I don’t know much of and we’re not here to tell. But it would be great if the place could somehow come to life again? Hardy as a wildflower itself after the several cold winters since it closed in 2017. Let’s hope so.
Into the park then.
Most of the sampled I just photograph, though several she needs to collect, though only where there are plenty to pick from.
Here’s Sarah then, on her findings:
“The current plant family on my Identiplant Course is the Campion, a large family of plants with flowers of 4 or 5 white or pink petals – which includes Red Campion, the bright pink flower which looks particularly attractive at the moment alongside the masses of buttercups which seem to be everywhere. The Campion family also includes Stitchworts and Chickweeds with small white starry flowers (the species name is ‘Stellaria’), and are part of my homework. They are often overlooked as ‘weeds’, but in my opinion they are gems.
Along the way to Court Hey, looking for my homework finds, we saw purple Vetch scrambling in the roadside verges, with several yellow flowered Trefoils, and Scurvy Grass too. This last a white flower from the Cabbage family, which I was glad to find as I didn’t find it back in April, although it is a common roadside plant, having migrated from it’s natural coastal habitat, and survives on roadsides because of the winter salt added to the road grit.
As we came into Court Hey Park we were delighted by masses of Cow Parsley, the odd Native Bluebell, though finishing now, plenty of yellow Wood Avens, as well as Water Avens down by the stream. Plantain, Garlic Mustard, Herb Robert and Shining Cranesbill were also around, and a couple of yellow flowering members of the Cabbage family, bright blue Speedwell, and of course, the delightful shining yellow Buttercups – which Ronnie can now identify and differentiate as Ranuculus acris, Meadow Buttercup and Ranunclus repens, Creeping Buttercup. He turned to me at one point in all this and said, ‘It makes it more interesting doesn’t it?’ Yes it does, we were surrounded by friends here.”
We had a lovely time, thank you Court Hey Park, and we’ll be back.
And by the way, for any parents, teachers or children reading, there are park type things in here too, for riding on and good fun. But we didn’t have a go on any on them because they’re locked up for Covid at the moment. And besides, we just wouldn’t would we?!
Thanks to Sarah for her steady and rigorous sense of enquiry, and for continuously telling me the names of the wildflowers. It’s an education to follow her around.