Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Fields of Gold

Who could have failed to notice the proliferation of fields of gold in the countryside this summer? At first glance, it looks as if crops of the ubiquitous rape have taken an even stronger hold of the fields and meadows but it is, in fact, the dazzling sparkle of the creeping buttercup.

The very wet weather last year, lack of spraying and compacting of the soil by cattle hooves, which stops water from draining away, have created favourable conditions for swathes of ranunculus repens on grazing land. And they have cropped up in other places: roadsides, gardens and village greens. There is even a clump tumbling into the water from the side of the pond on my allotment. So heartening a sight is this vivid display of wildflower in these days of uncertain climate – both meteorologocial and economic – that I am embracing the invader and letting it share my plot.

Others are not so accommodating. Being toxic to horses, cattle and sheep, fresh buttercups are a problem for farmers. That is why those yellow pastures are not inhabited by livestock at the moment; but spraying is apparently ineffective once the buttercup has flowered. So, we may as well enjoy the vista and let our children keep checking who likes butter.

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