Sandy, Bedfordshire: There is a beautiful savagery to this plant that begins life as a softie
Summer has grown tall around the farm reservoir, and among the living spires and steeples are plants that stand head and curly shoulders above the rest. The hard-stemmed teasels that look down on me now showed a softer character on their way up. Five or six weeks ago, I stroked their furry tops, yielding and pliable like pussy willow catkins. I dabbed at the raised bumps on floppy fresh leaves, and fingered the puppy-dog teeth on lime green stalks that still had enough give to avoid me saying ouch.
The flower heads have stiffened with maturity, feeling like the bristles of a nylon paintbrush. And some have begun the slow burn of blooming, blazing one coil at a time like a firework sparkler, creating pale purple rings of florets.