Walking along the canal path at Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, England, recently, I came upon this interesting looking plant, which was new to me. It was growing abundantly along the side of the canal, separated from the path and reminded me of a small orchid.
When I got home, I looked it up and this is what I found:
'Indian BalsamImpatiens glandulifera
Introduced as a garden plant from the Himalayas in 1839, and naturalised along waterways and in waste places, this tall, stout-stemmed species grows 100-200 cm high. It is hairless and the stems reddish. There is no mistaking the rather orchid-like, mave, dangling flowers.
Flower: purplish pink, 2-5.4 cm, petals 5, forming a broad, lower lip and hood; sepals 3, lower forming a mauve, spurred bag.
Flower arrangement: long-stalked racemes arising from leaf-axils.
Flowering time: July - October.
Leaf: opposite or in threes, 5-18 cm long, elliptic, toothed; reddish glands along basal margins.
Fruit: capsule, club-shaped, opening by 5 valves, which spring into coils, shooting out seeds.'
Information from 'Illustrated Guide to Wild Flowers' by Stephen Blackmore
The Indian Balsam flowers were just behind me as I stood admiring the lock keeper's cottage below.
Join me as I walked along the towpath. If you look carefully at the next picture, you will see the Indian Balsam flowers just behind the signpost.
The red and black boat is preparing to use the lock to descend to the lower level (see next picture).
The lock gates must be opened to allow the boat to pass through and down.
We caught up with the red and black boat further down the canal just after we had lunch.
This was the pub where we had lunch. It was called the Globe Inn. We had a lovely lunch of fish and chips, scampi and chips and hunters' chicken with chips.