I took the opportunity to visit Benfield hill in Hangleton on Friday morning hoping to catch a glimpse of the solar eclipse. Like most folk in Sussex that morning, I was left disappointed. The smog that swept over from Europe just the day before had left a haze cloud which lingered in the skies just long enough to hide the moon moving across the sky to cover the sun.
Back on the ground my attention was drawn towards a sun-shaped flower – Carlina vulgaris. I had first come across this flower a few days before and was hoping to bump into it again to take some photos. The flowers are last years dead heads, persisting still, rather like the smog in the skies. They are strikingly sun-like, even in their dead and worn out state. The inner florets remain a rusty yellow colour with straw-coloured bracts radiating out like the suns rays.
I liked this thistle. I’m surprised I had never come across it before now. It is very distinctive and inhabits chalk grassland – of which there is plenty in Sussex where I have been studying botany these past few years. There is something momentarily beautiful about discovering something you are fascinated by and knowing it has been there all along. It has just taken time for you to discover it.