Allendale, Northumberland: Growing abundantly along motorways, these pristine white flowers with their yellow centres have an endearing simplicity, like a child’s drawing
Driving north from Newcastle up the A1 there’s an upside to the slowing traffic. It’s an opportunity to look at the high embankments on either side that are crowded with oxeye daisies, Leucanthemum vulgare. Growing abundantly along motorways, these pristine white flowers with their yellow centres have an endearing simplicity, like a child’s drawing. Mixed among them I can see the yellow of buttercup, mauve of vetch, sharp pink of campion and isolated patches of red clover. Lower down, near the gritty edges of the road, are canary-yellow sprawls of bird’s foot trefoil, colours that have mostly been banished from farmland.
I grow all those wildflowers in my garden. All have nectar for bees, butterflies and hoverflies. The golden centre of the daisy head is not one flower but many, a composite of tiny disc florets, each containing food for insects. A grass path curves through my small perennial meadow, where chimney sweeper moths flicker between umbels of pignut and ragged robin. As I pause there in the evening light, there’s a delicacy to the planting with its fine grasses and small bursts of colour. On tall stems, the oxeye daisies glow as the sun drops behind the wood.