Friday, 18 September 2015

A Miniature Garden

If you walk along to the end of Ormsaigbeg and pass through the gate into the common grazings, you'll find an area of very close-cropped grass. It's home to a small band of sheep who, unlike the rest of the flock, seem to like to stay close to human habitation rather than take advantage of the miles of wilder common grazing available to the north and west.

Sheep grazing on the hills enjoy a varied diet of which, sadly, orchids are top of the menu, but almost everything is eaten with the exception, even more sadly, of bracken.

The response of the resident wildflowers seems to be miniaturisation. Even plants like tormentil and eyebright, which are pretty small even when growing in the best spots, are even smaller, while....

....ling not only grows small but also hugs the ground, as if cowering from the attentions of the next passing sheep.

The self heal flowers are tiny, almost difficult to find, and even....

....the few Scottish bluebells - harebells in England - which have the temerity to poke their heads above ground keep as low a profile as possible.

Sheep have been cropping these hillsides for generations, so one does wonder whether the plants have evolved in order to survive, whether, if one were dug up (illegally) and transferred to a fertile spot sheltered from sheep, they would retain their miniaturisation.

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