Rhos-on-Sea has a small sandy beach protected from the worst of the elements by the piled stones of the breakwater wall.
Most of the time it’s quiet, with most beach-seekers opting for the bigger expanse of sand further round Colwyn Bay, but it can get busy on warm sunny days as it’s handy for the village cafés, shops and the all-important public loos. It’s popular too with some of the younger local Herring Gulls whilst the grown-ups are otherwise occupied with raising the next generation.
The nearby wooden jetty is a draw for those wanting to try out the gentle sport of ‘crabbing’ too.
But my interest in the beach is with other visitors, the opportunistic wildflowers that grow there, mainly at the back of the sandy beach pressed against the sea wall.
The line of small dinghies lodged haphazardly against the wall don’t get much exercise by the look of things, but they help give the plants a bit more shelter. There’s a nice spread of Wall Barley,
then more Wall Barley, touches of Dandelion and Groundsel surround a clump of Sweet Alison. This does have origins as a wildflower and it grows wildly around the Mediterranean, but is more familiar to us as a garden edging plant. This one is probably the offspring of such a one that has escaped the formality of a bedding scheme in favour of a wilder life.
There’s more Dandelion, past flowering for now, and a couple of clumps of Curled Dock. This is one of our two most common docks, whose narrower leaves with wavy edges make it distinguishable from the other more familiar Broad-leaved Dock, a much sturdier plant whose leaves we used as kids to alleviate the pain of nettle stings.
There’s some Sea Beet here, but much more further along, so I’ll get back to that. By far the most prolific plant though is Sea Mayweed, which has the odd flower open but although it’s leaves are pretty, it’s not at its best yet.
There’s another Mayweed too, the Pineapple Mayweed, so named because it’s supposed to smell of the fruit when it’s crushed.
More Curled Dock, silvery-grey leaved Fat Hen which is not flowering yet and Shepherd’s Purse with the distinctive heart-shaped seed capsules that give it its common name.
And to finish this section a nice group photo featuring most of the aforementioned main characters.
At the far end of the beach, there’s a change in character. The sand thins gradually petering out, and the now stony ground offers an opportunity for other plant species to stake a claim. I find it amazing that any plant can survive the harsh conditions of any beach, let alone one as exposed and seemingly hostile as this one. Some like the Sea Beet and the Curled Dock are perennials and look tough enough to have staked a permanent claim. Others appear at first sight to be small and fragile, although looks are often deceptive and some, like this White Clover should surely be somewhere more lush and grassy?
Growing through the clover in my photo above are bits of a plant I like very much, the Buck’s-horn Plantain, named for the shape of its attractive leaves. This one is a toughie, and is found on disturbed ground and on rocky sites mainly near the sea, but it may be pushing its boundaries a bit here.
There’s a sprinkling of Annual Wall Rocket plants
and a straggly looking Cat’s-ear, one of the few hawkbit-hawk’s beard or otherwise dandelion-flowered hawk-something that I think I know.
There’s more ferny-foliaged Sea Mayweed
more Curled Dock
and another one of my favourite toughies, the pretty Common Mallow.
There’s more Wall Barley too.
And some impressive specimens of Sea Beet. I’m surprised this doesn’t get fashionably-foraged for one of our trendier local restaurants – it’s the plant from which our cultivated beets originated, so does have edible roots.
Behind the now empty buildings it grows prolifically.
Speaking of the buildings, I stop and wonder what will happen to them. They are very much a local landmark with an interesting history. An impressive pier once stretched out into the sea from this point and the buildings, including the iconic octagonal one, originally served as a toll both and entrance building for passengers embarking on steamers that docked here. There have been a few subsequent changes of use since the council finally bought the pier and demolished it in 1954. Many people seem to particularly remember the café once located here.The walls on this beach side also form part of the sea wall, so perhaps partly for that reason their continuing presence was secured last May when it was added to the Grade II list of buildings.
Leaving the beach there were more little plants to see on the paved areas at the side of the buildings and on the steps leading up to the front of it, so maybe this area is not included on the council’s weed hit list.
Against the pink-painted wall
and from a crack in the paving
and growing across a drain grille was this White Stonecrop
From here I walked back along the Prom; this view is taken looking back along a section I’d already walked along
and this is going forward showing the embankment. Quite unusually I thought, it had been allowed to grow long, so was sprinkled with patches of buttercups, red clover and flowering grasses. It’s uncut state is probably more to do with council budget cuts than as an aid to wildlife. I’m sure it’ll be neatened up before the start of the official High Season.
Several plants have colonised the huge piled up rocks that provide extra sea defence, including a Sycamore tree which is currently flowering and visited by Bumblebees. Despite the sunshine and the flowers on offer, admittedly not a great selection, there were very few insects about. I saw perhaps half a dozen bees and one White sp. butterfly.
The daisies have been spectacular here this year.
To finish, almost home I spotted another couple of little gems tucked in against walls on the street
and two tiny pink-flowered Cranesbills