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Country diary: the Allen has become a river of gold

Allendale, Northumberland: The dazzling monkey flower is having a bumper year in the upper reaches of the Tyne river systemThe dry grass prickles my sandalled feet as I cross the biscuit-coloured field towards the East Allen. The green and cool haugh has burned up in the heat, its smell become Mediterranean, an earthy mix of dried clay and hay, bitter and sweet at the same time. The shrunken river threads its way between boulder islands, finding passage between rocks that are normally submerged. This year the monkey flowers are able to grow tall, untrammelled by the fast flow of water, unbattered by wind or flood. The Allen has become a river of gold.Monkey flower, Mimulus guttatus, was first recorded in the wild in Britain in 1824, having escaped from gardens. This non-native species comes from the west coast of North America, where it grows in wet places from sea level to high-altitude meadows. It is now well established along our water courses, around lakes and in damp pastures, setting abundant seed and rooting easily from fragments that get carried downriver. The more floods we have, the more it is likely to increase, so its spread may affect the richness of our riparian plant communities. It is certainly having a bumper year in the upper reaches of the Tyne river system. Continue reading...
Zdroj: The Guardian

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