Aberystwyth in bloom: Part 1

Whilst lockdown has been an awful and difficult time, there have also been several positives which have emerged from this bleak situation. I like many others around the country have found absorbing myself in nature a great distraction and a way to stay positive and uplifted over the past 10 weeks or so. I’ve particularly enjoying watching the transformation of our urban spaces where, without the usual human interference, nature itself is thriving.

All around our little town of Aberystwyth there are signs that something is a little different this year. Aside from the obvious lack of people, the streets appear more vibrant and full of life, thanks to a sudden abundance of wildflowers which would normally be stripped away by council workers keen to keep everything looking neat and tidy.

Looking out at the view from behind my home, above the twinkling water of the harbour mouth is a patch of pink standing out among the drab buildings. Intriguing, and well worth a closer look…

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It certainly was! The sight which greeted me was stunning and rather unexpected. I hadn’t expected there to be quite so many flowers! A huge patch of red valerian has colonised this bank, spilling out over the wall and onto the path below creating quite the spectacle.

The photo doesn’t quite do the scene justice…

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Red valerian is a hardy plant, able to thrive in poor soils and grow in a variety of habitats from cliffs to wasteland and even right through walls! The plant originates from the Mediterranean but is now widespread throughout the UK, with a preference for coastal habitats.

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Hundreds of these pink conical flowers tower high above your head, swaying gently in the breeze against a backdrop of clear blue skies. Whilst they certainly looked impressive from my vantage point far below, photographing them from down on the ground wasn’t easy, although the results I feel were worth it!

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Not only do they look beautiful, these flowers will also provide a valuable habitat and food source for many tiny creatures. The flowers appeared to be particularly irresistible to a bizarre looking insect, the aptly named thick-legged flower beetle.

This individual pictured is a male, with his distinctive bulbous rear legs, which are lacking in the female.

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*information sourced from the The Wildlife Trusts

Share your photos of how nature is thriving around Aberystwyth using the hashtag #AberystwythInBloom !

All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography © 2020
www.greyfeatherphotography.com

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