“Shed not a clout till may be out…”

It’s not, as many believe, an instruction to keep your coat on until June; it’s telling you to take your cardigan off as soon as the may is in blossom, which has been known to happen as early as April.

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Celandine shine

Have you ever tried to photograph lesser celandine or buttercup flowers on a sunny day? The petals are so shiny, like little cups of mirrors, that the reflected sunlight flares and obscures the details of the flower; if you are trying to photograph a celandine in close up, you have to do it in the shade.

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Hazel

Always among the year’s first flowers in the reserve are the hazel catkins in the copse near the picnic place. They are a familiar and friendly sign that spring is on its way.

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Red dead nettle

This is a red dead nettle (Lamium purpureum), the commonest of weeds. It flowers for most of the year in untidy vegetable plots, roadside verges and, in this case, nature reserve car parks. Nobody gives it a second glance but its flowers, hidden among its topmost purple leaves, are extraordinarily beautiful.

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Invasion of the Spanish squill

On Friday we posted a gallery of grey squirrels, an invasive alien species that has almost completely replaced our native squirrel population. Unfortunately, our native bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) is also being threatened by the spread of an invasive alien: Spanish squill (Hyacinthoides hispanica), a similar bluebell species imported into our gardens from southern Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Lesser Celandine

The lesser celandines (Ficaria verna) are in flower. Celandines are the floral equivalent of the swallow, they appear around the same time and mark the coming of spring. In fact the word celandine comes from the Greek name for swallow: chelidon. One of its local names is spring messenger; others are brighteye, butter and cheese, frog’s foot, golden guineas and, less romantically, pilewort because it was once used to treat haemorrhoids.

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Pussy willow

A goat willow’s flowers, or catkins, known as pussy willow because they look like furry grey kittens’ paws, appear in February, one of the earliest signs of spring in the park.

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“Shed not a clout till may be out…”

It’s not an instruction to keep your coat on until June; it’s telling you that you can take your cardigan off once the may is in blossom, which has been known to happen as early as April.

Continue reading

Lesser Celandine

The lesser celandines (Ficaria verna) are in flower. Celandines are the floral equivalent of the swallow, they appear around the same time and mark the coming of spring. In fact the word celandine comes from the Greek name for swallow: chelidon. One of its local names is spring messenger; others are brighteye, butter and cheese, frog’s foot, golden guineas and, less romantically, pilewort because it was once used to treat haemorrhoids.

Continue reading “Lesser Celandine”

Celandine shine

Have you ever tried to photograph lesser celandine or buttercup flowers on a sunny day? The petals are so shiny, like little cups of mirrors, that the reflected sunlight flares and obscures the details of the flower; if you are trying to photograph a celandine in close up, you have to do it in the shade.

Continue reading

First snowdrops

Ian Bushell has sent us a picture of the first snowdrops, taken today on the wooded side of the path along the edge of Lambrok Meadow. Lovely!


Ivy flowers

The park’s ivy flowers between September and November; each plant’s flowering season is quite short but a succession of plants flowers all through the autumn. The flowers are small, green and yellow, and so insignificant-looking that many people don’t realise that that they are flowers at all.

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Jerusalem artichoke

A message from Ian:

May be of interest to you:   Jerusalem Artichoke, Helianthus tuberosus, identified by Lindsay Moore [County Recorder Flora].  Ali and I found it along the stream near the bridge at the bottom of the Blackthorn Tunnel.  I’ve added it to the Census.  Unusual, probably from some bird dropping seed. 

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