My encounters with flora at the tide’s reach. Part 1.

Jun 3, 2020 | Blog

We invited Heath Nickels a wildlife and wildflower enthusiast to write a blog about flora at the tide’s reach after a walk we made between Exton and the mouth of the Clyst. Tidelines is very much about valuing all our experiences and knowledge of the Exe whether you are a professional, a resident, a walker or a visitor. It builds a wider picture of the estuary and coastline. So further blogs are welcome. Over to you Heath…

Image from My Devon Year

About five years ago, a chance conversation about a book, published in 1904, changed my whole outlook on wildflowers. Up until then, I would quite happily wander along a path or a lane, even the dunes, and have very little idea about the wildflowers  I was passing by.

This book changed that. It was written by a Devon author called Eden Phillpotts and entitled ‘My Devon Year’.

It appealed to my curiosity for place – a need to know exactly where locations are, in the world. Each chapter is a very highly descriptive narration of a different part of Devon and scattered within these thoughts, are a catalogue of the wildflowers that he found on his travels. 

Thus, I became determined to teach myself the names of these species I once walked by, and to see whether the flowers, from over a hundred years ago, are still here in Devon.

One chapter is called ‘Sand-Dunes’ and is a description of a trip to Dawlish Warren, by Phillpotts. He writes about the wildflowers found there and has the following passage on the Exe:

“Then the estuary of the river stretches like a band of silver, and in the distance, under the haze of Summer, there lie woodlands and cornfields upon the bosom of a hill.

I have seen dawn upon the Exe, and can remember how a great mist rolled down the river to meet the morning. In billows it came under a breeze from the shore, hid all the heron-haunted flats and marshes, heather ridges and sleepy dunes; then the risen sun touched it, and it waned gloriously in a rosy glow against the increasing blue of the sky; while from its depths stole Exe to the sea; and I saw red cliffs and marble beaches and fishers with bright sails setting forth into an ocean of light.”

So now, five years on, I am taking the spirit of Phillpotts onto the Exe – I want to know, apart from other things, what wildflowers, and other kinds of flora, can be encountered there… (read My Encounters with Flora, Part two)

Heath Nickels

My encounters with flora at the tide’s reach. Part 2.

My encounters with flora at the tide’s reach. Part 2.

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