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This report is taken from PN Review 245, Volume 45 Number 3, January - February 2019.

from the Journals
‘Small precise things’
From the Journals, 8 March 2008
R.F. Langley
Overcast, altostratus, almost raining most of the day and a wind getting up which will reach 80mph, the papers say, in the West and South tomorrow night. Not so fierce here, but blowy. Edward’s Lane, after picking up a bottle of milk from Clarke’s in Low Road, this morning. Celandine opening quite thickly now on that north bank, which is of course south facing. Amongst it I notice a small white flower and pluck a piece of it to check it, and one leaf of it looks so much like the leaf of English scurvy grass in the book that I jump to this identification, and begin to juggle with the possibility that it is a hybrid with common scurvy grass, or even Danish, or early scurvy grass since that flowers now rather than in April, and has spread because of railway ballast, and the railway bridge is close by.

But I go back this afternoon, with B out prompting at Louise’s play at the Cut, and take a proper sample, finding that the plant has seedpods, thin, upright and dark, protruding among the flower heads, and upper leaves much thinner than the one I was looking at this morning, and even that the rounder lower leaves do not slope into their stems so much. It is hairy bittercress, as might be expected from the date and the position on a field bank rather than on mudflats or riverside.

Looking more carefully at the bank this time, I find that the red deadnettle is out in some profusion, packed beds ...


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