This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
In making any botanical survey of a country or district one has to consider that certain associations are natural, while others are artificial. If it were possible altogether to say how much of a given region were really aboriginal, probably that portion would require to be put down as an infinitesimal fragment. It is, moreover, clear that the artificial influence of man is an overlapping or obscuring mantle whose ample folds disguise all the small corners despised by man, from position or barrenness (from his point of view), or because they have been retained under the same conditions from time immemorial, where the last resort of truly native plants can still be seen.
These islets in a sea of otherwise purely artificial fields, meadows, woodlands, etc. (and we must chiefly exclude water from the artificial tracts), are really to the far-seeing botanist the most interesting part of his quest or study. For he knows quite well that the enclosed fields, with their modern ditches, hedges, trees, and turf, are no more natural than the hovels provided in the fields for the shelter of cattle, that so largely cause this alteration of the land surface.
None the less, since the entire crust has repeatedly undergone radical changes in surface vegetation, configuration, and so forth, it is necessary also to consider the composition of the essentially artificial tracts.
The artificial meadow and cornfields and bushlands have been already considered, and since roads and hedges are an important part of all regions and are best studied in a linear fashion, wherever they enclose or intersect the equally artificial fields or districts, we need make no apology here for making a special section devoted to the flowers of the roadsides and hedges which belong - as an appendix we may perhaps best consider them - to the previous section or meso-phytes.
We have in the roads first the macadam, with a gritty border, fringed by Silverweed, a zone of grass of varying width which varies with the geological formation, where grasses, sedges, rushes, and various dominant Compositae and Rosaceae grow, with occasionally a bushland of Sloe, Briars, Brambles, Sallows, etc. Then there is a boundary ditch, on the sides of which or in which is an aquatic or semi-aquatic flora, which includes such hydrophilous plants as Watercress, Water Ranunculus, Marshwort, etc.
Finally we have the hedge with a bank on which dry-soil forms grow, and various planted trees, with bushes and shrubs dispersed at intervals. In fields the hedges and ditches are a repetition of the last.
Photo. L. R J. Horn