Spring With Energy

Winter was almost like the olden days of fable. In other words, we had snow; quite a bit of it. More than that, it was long. 

Spring has arrived and life that was dormant appears impatient to catch up. This shouldn’t be a surprise. Evolution has adapted species to deal with a variety of conditions;the fact that wildflowers are now racing to complete their annual cycle is  evidence of that.

 

For us this means a wonderful wild flower display. I’ve been out and about today. Everywhere I looked, wildflowers are Blooming.

Here are some I saw, all within a mile of each other:

IMG_4898[1]Field forget me not (Myosotis arvensis)

 

IMG_4915[1]English primrose (Primula vulgaris)

 

IMG_4904[1]Dog violet (Viola riviana)

 

IMG_4908[1]Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris)

 

IMG_4903[1]Lesser celandine (Ficara verna)

 

IMG_4916[1]Oppsosite leaved golden saxifrage (Chrysoplenium oppositfolium)

 

IMG_4906[1]Wood sorrel (Oxalis griffithii)

IMG_4900[1]Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

 

IMG_4899[1]Bluebell (Hyacynthoides non-scripta)

 

IMG_4911[1]

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)

Thanks for reading and I hope you get out into nature to enjoy this spring’s marvellous display.

 

 

 

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Something different… Alpacas

Today I’m visiting the National Alpaca Show.

This Peruvian relative of camels is surprisingly popular, its coat making a fine lanolin-free wool, much softer than sheep wool and is in demand from the fashion industry.

“Cosy by Luciano” and Catherine Price exhibiting their wares.

The show has much in common with other agricultural shows but the range of trade stands reflects that this is an industry dominated by smallholder businesses.

Judging of competitions for the best animals and fleeces ensure that new generations of alpacas will continue to produce a high quality product.

However, my youngest informs me that the most important thing about alpacas is that they are adorable.

After a long dormant time

I haven’t blogged for ages but maybe the return of energy to nature is having a knock-on effect upon me.

Today I decided to travel paths near home that I haven’t walked for at least a couple of years, some many more. I was rewarded by encountering some remarkable trees.

This oak has suffered over the years but is clearly a good home to many bugs and grubs. In turn they provide food for birds such as woodpecker, nuthatches and treecreepers.

This ash recently fell but its surviving stump tell the story of a long life, probably pollarded to provide timber at a nearby small holding.

This amazing birch was probably part of a hedge. It might have been layed as part of that hedge but it appears the other trees in the hedge died a long time ago.

There are lots of good side effects to this long winter. Today one has been that the lengthening days gave me time to explore and the slow spring meant I could see the shape of these trees, un -obscured by spring growth.

Happy wanderings.

Ivy or Not Ivy

Ivy (Hedera helix,) an evergreen climbing plant, is a common sight in woods and on trees across Britain
It’s an important plant for wildlife, providing shelter, berries and nectar at times of the year when these are scarce. 


The first growth phase, as ivy climbs from ground level, into the tree


The second phase of ivy growth, with an oval shaped leaf

The plant spreads across the ground until it finds a tree to climb, then using micro-rootlets to grip the trunk, climbs the trees. The ivy changes its leaf shape once it has climbed the tree, from a palmate (pointed, star-shaped) leaf to an elliptical shape. Only after this will it flower and have berries. 

Ivy has been unpopular amongst foresters for many generations, their view being test iT world stamp and kill trees. In fact ivy would rarely swamp a healthy tree. 
In the modern age it has been suggested that mild winters have made ivy more vigorous. Ivy also poses a threat to trees by acting as a wind-catcher during winter storms, increasing the likelihood of the trees being blown over. 


It looks like ivy will be controversial for years to come. 

Garlic Mustard 

Right now there’s still time to take advantage of one of the easiest wild foods to use. 

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is abundant on verges, path edges and in the foot of hedgerows. As it’s name suggests, it’s related to mustard but the leaves taste deliciously of garlic. 


It can be added to salads or used as an ingredient in hot dishes; and is a great way to show off your foraging skills to those who don’t think they would enjoy wild leaves. It can also liven up a meal if you’re already out camping this spring. 

Is it worth ploughing every inch ?

This afternoon I took a walk on the paths around my village. One of the most popular paths follows a field edge where winter wheat was sown last autumn. 

The corner nearest the gate is a waste of space for the farmer. So much of the corner is bare ground, the corn having not survived the muddiness and trampling of feet over winter. Along the edge of the field three paths have formed through the young crop.

Was it worth cultivating this corner and spending money on seed that will never grow?Was there any point in ploughing right to the edge of the field and not sparing the path, leaving walkers to beat it hard with the action of their winter boots ?(and not all taking the same line )

The crop looks very sad along this field edge and I think the farmer could have saved himself some money and given a little more room for wildlife if he hadn’t decided to plough every available inch.