Sunday, September 8, 2013


Whoever is responsible for planting this fabulous display, in what has always been a rather dull patch of grassland on the low cliffs between Seaburn and Whitburn, near Sunderland, deserves to be congratulated. There is cornflowers, corn poppies, corn chamomile and corn marigold in the mixture but its the last of these that predominated in today's sunshine. 

The wild flowers have been sown in a broad strip around the field, leaving the grassy centre for the seabirds to roost and feed on at high tide. 

Just about everyone who walked past today stopped to take a photograph.

Corn marigold Chrysanthemum segetum, also known in some parts of the country as 'gold', was once a very common cornfield weed but has been eliminated from most agricultural land by the intensive use of herbicides. It does have a persistent seed bank in the soil because the seeds have a long viability period, and I have seen it grow naturally near Durham city in disturbed soil, long before it was a fashionable component of cornfield wild flower seed mixtures like the one that would have been used for this display.

The flower is an excellent source of pollen for late summer insects like hoverflies and when it's sown in the way that it's been used here it produces a stop-you-in- your-tracks display. Good for wildlife, good for people and, I suspect, a very economical way to produce a wonderful floral display at minimum cost to the local council taxpayer.

For a couple more examples of deliberately planted wild flower displays, click here and here.


  1. What a beautiful coastal path. I don't know the bit south of Sunderland (until you reach the Saltburn area). Most of our local 'wildflower' meadows are now (on first appearance) brown 'hay-like' fields with barely a flower in sight.

    Thank you, Phil, very much for your input on my Carlton Marshes mystery!

    1. It's a while since we've been to this spot Caroline, so it was a really pleasant surprise to find such a fine display of wild flowers.I think they must have been sown quite late.

      I'm not 100 per cent sure about that ID but there are quite a few small discomycete fungi that are of about that size and shape.....


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.