Thursday, 15 July 2021

Secret Hills Discovery Centre, Sun. 18th July

Hot on the heels of last weekend's field meeting we are out again next Sun.18th, for a morning botanical mooch around the grounds of the Secret Hills Discovery Centre, Craven Arms.

There are 30 acres of meadows alongside the gorgeous River Onny, with flowery hay meadows, pond, riverside damp woodland, hedgerows and mature trees. You are welcome to stay on (or slip away!) for an ice cream as the centre itself has great facilities with a cafe, shop, information area and a mammoth!

We're meeting at 10am in the centre car park and joining up with a group of the centre volunteers who want to know more about the botany of the land they help care for. We'll be staying outside and the forecast is warm and sunny, so be sun and bitey insect aware, as well the other thing that has become part of our lives! For booking email: Mags Cousins

Here's a snippet from a few weeks ago:

Pond with good weeds, including Ranunculus peltatus

Meadow Saxifrage, Saxifraga granulata

Flower rich meadow

Pink Purslane Claytonia perfoliata

Sunday, 4 July 2021

Next meeting Sat. 10th July. All Saint's churchyard, Clive, then up Grinshill (optional)

We'll be meeting at 10:00am at All Saint's church, Clive at SJ51462408.  

There are only a few parking places alongside Drawwell Street, just north of the Church. Otherwise the access will be very easy into the churchyard for the first part of the field meeting.  The churchyard is a great setting under the spire of All Saints’ church.  The church dates back to the 12th century, and was fully restored in 1887, with the spire added in 1894. The church also has a refurbished peal of six bells – the heaviest in the county, which are regularly rung.  We will be exploring the botany of the churchyard and the outing will be a mix of recording and training.  

After the churchyard the going gets moderately hilly up Grinshill. The hill is Triassic Sandstone which was quarried for building.

Photo courtesy of

Attending for just an hour or two in the churchyard is fine. For further information about the meeting please contact Andrew Perry,

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Smiling Tree Farm, next Sun 27th June

It has been all smiles so far for our field meetings programme which is going very well, and our next outing is a recording visit to Smiling Tree Farm, no less!.  The aim is to record as much as we can on the farm as the owners are really interested to know what they have there.  All we know so far is:

Smiling Tree Farm is in South Shropshire between New Invention and Bucknell, at SO31627582 and is a pastoral enterprise, so there will be fields and hedgerows, cows and sheep and beautiful views of rolling countryside!  Booking is necessary, email: Mags Cousins, so you can be given access instructions, as it is quite rural with limited parking.


Hope to see some smiling faces at Smiling Tree Farm!

best wishes

Mags Cousins

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Next field meeting Muxton Marsh Sun 6th June

The first field visit of the season, last Saturday, to Brook Vessons delivered on all promises; plants, weather, company, views and there is a lovely photo album on Dan's Facebook page

Next one is Sun. 6th June to Muxton Marsh SSSI and Shropshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve at Granville Country Park, north east of Telford.  It combines industrial heritage with fabulous species rich habitats, with damp meadows, sedge fen, alder carr and some ancient woodland. 

Muxton Marsh SSSI citation says "The site is part of a complex of habitats which have developed in an area of north-east Telford left semi-derelict by past coal-mining. Impeded drainage caused by spoil dumping has contributed to the formation of wetland habitats here...  and this site is the best remaining example of unimproved grassland, fen and carr. 

Shropshire Wildlife Trust reserve description is slightly more poetic; "An abundance of bird’s-foot trefoil now feeds generations of caterpillars of Telford’s speciality butterflies, the dingy skipper and green hairstreak. Orchids, ox-eye daisy, cowslips and yellow rattle, rarely seen now in agricultural fields, have miraculously appeared in what was, in the not-so-distant past, a grim and uninviting landscape."

Penny knows it well and is leading this one, m
eeting at 11:00 am in Woodbine Close. This is a cul-de-sac off Marshbrook Way, Muxton at SJ7146 1351. Park between drive ways as discreetly as possible.  For further information about the meeting please contact Penny Wysome, 01952 242617,

Saturday, 22 May 2021

Our second field meeting of the year is coming up next weekend, we are going to the lovely Brook Vessons Farm and Paulith Bank below the Stiperstones, on Sat. 29th May.  There will be lots to enjoy with varied habitats and a beautiful landscape:

The many delights of Brook Vessons Farm and Paulith Bank

Everyone is welcome but do check arrangements first with the leader Dan Wrench, Mob 07718391794, 

Meet at 10:00 am in the farm yard at SJ395012. Parking spaces are limited.

Be prepared for all weathers with plenty of layers, strong boots, food and drink. 

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Coming soon, a talk on the North West Rare Plants Initiative by Joshua Styles

Spring Meeting, 2-3.30pm, Sat. 24th April, by Zoom

“3 years into the North West Rare Plant Initiative”, a talk by Josh Styles 

This weekend Joshua Styles is giving an online talk to Shropshire Botanical Society on the North West Rare Plants Initiative (NWRPI).  Josh set the initiative up in 2017 aiming to re-establish rare plants into the wild in the NW region where they had become locally extinct.  He has done some brilliant propagation from wild plant propagules (all under appropriate licence) growing them at home in the garden.  He has a list of 45 priority species which includes Drosera anglica Great Sundew:

Drosera anglica Great Sundew (Scotland) photo Mags Cousins

There are historic records for Great Sundew in Shropshire, such as at Wem Moss and perhaps with recent bog restoration undertaken by Shropshire Wildlife Trust there is a chance we can see this plant again in the county.  We are more familiar with Drosera rotundifolia Round-leaved Sundew, which  although more widespread is still under pressure due to habitat degradation:

Drosera rotundifolia Round-leaved Sundew
photo Mags Cousins

Everyone is welcome to join the talk, just message us for a Zoom link if you haven't received a link already:

Monday, 29 March 2021

Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem, Gagea lutea

We are lucky in Shropshire to have a few populations of the delightful Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem Gagea lutea.  It is described by the BSBI as a "bulbous perennial herb of moist, base-rich, shady habitats including woods, hedgerows, limestone pavements, pastures, riverbanks and stream banks; sometimes washed down on alluvium in riverine woodland subject to seasonal flooding, mainly lowland."  Populations are mostly small and widely scattered in the UK and the species is on the Vascular Plant Red List for Great Britain as Least Concern.  

Gagea lutea is a rare plant in Shropshire restricted to a handful of sites in base rich open woodland, W8 Fraxinus excelsior Ash woodland, including on the limestone of north west Shropshire and streamsides south west of Bridgnorth.

Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem Gagea lutea

It flowers in March, so now is the time to look for it.  It can be a shy flowerer, and if not flowering can be easily overlooked as the leaves are strap shaped and very similar to Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta with which it often grows.  The two species can be told apart by the 3-5 ridges on the back of the leaf of Gagea, which is a brighter green and narrower: 

Underside of Bluebell leaf bottom and Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem, top

Bluebell, Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem and Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa

The photo below, shows the precarious site on a mobile sandy river bank on which there was a population south west of Bridgnorth in 2017, hopefully it is still there:

Wooded river bank habitat of Gagea lutea, south Shropshire

Gagea lutea in open calcareous woodland, north Shropshire near Llanymynech

Ruth went to check on the populations local to her, this March in north Shropshire and was pleased to find it flowering well:

Yellow Star-of-Bethlehem Gagea lutea, 27th March 2021, photo Ruth Dawes

If you do manage to see this lovely plant, please send in your records plus a photograph, an accurate 8 figure grid reference and an assessment of population size, to the v.c.40 recorder: Dr Sarah Whild