There’s an air of something new afoot when I visit the Sauveplaine, site of a wild fire catastrophe last year. The feeling that I’m in a plant cemetery with remains in ashes all around is being replaced by another impression. Plants are returning, slowly, but it’s not just that gradual replacement of one generation by another – there’s a sense in which Nature is doing it’s own thing, which is not what we expect. A scene of devastation changes into one in which the blackened limbs of bushes become a style of architecture for the return en masse of the stately asphodels.
And the new growth finds ways to use that architecture: I’ve not noticed wild asparagus climbing like bindweed before, and the embrace of the charred trunk is very moving.
Then there are the new arrivals, plants I haven’t seen there before, perhaps because they had been hidden by dense undergrowth, perhaps because they are profiting from the empty spaces. One is this lovely little red-brown flower I hadn’t seen anywhere else, I see from tela botanica that it’s not very common. It’s Nonea – Nonea erecta to be precise.
Another new one from the Boraginaceae family, to accompany the Cerinthe I posted the other day.
And this little Valerian: Valeriana tuberosa.
Finally and most spectacularly, this group of squills: Scilla hyacinthoides, which were probably there before since they grow from bulbs, but which were somehow unremarked in in my careful quartering of the ground. As is the case for the valerian and the asphodels which grow from tubers, the plants with underground reserves are having a field day.
I’ve read that the biodiversity after a fire reaches a peak in the second or third year afterwards, and then declines as trees and shrubs start to take the light and as conditions get more competitive. I’ll watch and report.
So, it’s not a slow return of what was before, it’s something else. Cue for a tune.