1. I am involved in talking to farmers about conservation, enhancement and restoration of hay meadows. One plant which is distinctive, but very local, in the North is melancholy thistle, Cirsium heterophyllum. A gap in communication became evident. The farmers were not at all enthused about fostering a thistle – imagining no doubt creeping thistle, C. arvense, or spear thistle, C. vulgare. One day a botanist and a farmer happened to meet beside a melancholy thistle. On being told that this was melancholy thistle, the farmer expressed surprise. ‘Oh,’ said he, ‘We call that the shaving-brush flower’ – a very apt description [Arnside, Cumbria, May 2016].
Image: Ivar Leidus, Wiki Commons.