It’s the position I have to adopt to take pictures of what’s going on up on the sauveplaine at the moment. I wrote about my discovery of this area here on the blog two years ago, and I go there about as often as believers go to church/chapel/mosque etc, and for some of the same reasons: awe at something which is much greater than myself. There are lots of flowers coming into bloom, but many of them are little, low down or downright ground-hugging. I was on hands and knees anyway because the thyme is in flower and this is the moment to pick the delicate tips, which have the most flavour, and take it home to dry for seasoning dishes during the rest of the year.
I wasn’t the only one appreciating these miniature bouquets – I had to be careful not to pick bees at the same time.
I know there are many species of bee, and maybe some kind person, say Morgan from the wonderful blog The Reremouse will tell me which this is. She has a different standpoint: she once wrote that she sees a flower as something for insects to perch on, while I see an insect as something which flowers use to have sex. If you’re interested by nature – and why else would you be reading this – and you don’t know The Reremouse, you’re missing something. So what else did I see while I was down there on the ground? I’ll start with the highlights: two orchids. The first is the common Yellow ophrys (Ophrys lutea), of which there was quite a colony.
The other was the white orchid , Narrow-leaved helleborine (Cephalanthera longifolia).
Now two ground-hugging prostrate plants which I photographed for the first time the other day on the sauveplaine. Both from the same family, the Fabaceae – you know, beans and peas and all that. The first is a sort of broom, Cytisus supinus, which I identified with the help of another excellent site, Florealpes. The site says this plant can be confused with a Bird’s foot trefoil (Lotus spp.), one difference being that the latter has leaves with stipules, little mini-leaves at the base of the leaf-stalk, while the former doesn’t.
This sort of plant is often most easily identified by its fruit, since the flowers and leaves are very minor variations on a common pattern. I was lucky to have caught the charactersitic fruits of the second plant, Hippocrepis biflora, which are flattened and a bit like a strange saw-blade.
And the rest? A quick round-up, starting with a couple of spurges – a favourite of mine – I did three posts on the genus a little while ago. The common Euphorbia serrata:
and a rarer sight, the remarkable Euphorbia exigua:
A Star of Bethlehem, Ornithogallum montanum:
Wild Clary, Salvia verbenaca:
Rosy garlic (Allium roseum):
Grey-leaved cistus (Cistus albidus):
The title for the jazz came easily from a phrase I found I’d written: it’s the guitarist Grant Green with the tune Down here on the ground.