Nearly there …
Yes! My first Bluebells of the year today in St Augustine’s churchyard in Penarth.
The Spring sunshine has been a little sparse in recent weeks but the wildflowers are slowly continuing to appear. Here are some recent finds …
I couldn’t resist including more Bluebells (Hyacinthoides sp.) as they really encapsulate Spring for so many people.
First come the primroses, then these beauties take over: Cowslips (Primula veris).
You may know it as ‘Jack-by-the-hedge’, so-named for its love of a shady spot by a hedge, this is Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata).
Don’t forget to look down low for this burst of purple goodness. It’s Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea).
Blooming now on a wall near you, Ivy-leaved toadflax (Cymbalaria muralis).
Part of the large and mightily confusing dandelion family, this is one of the Sow thistles (Sonchus sp.).
If you go down to the woods today, make sure you take a peg for your nose … unless, like me, you love the smell of Wild garlic (Allium ursinum).
Though the weather has been pretty miserable most of this week, I have been seeing more and more wildflowers when I’m out on my wanders.
There will be no big fat juicy red berries from this little strawberry as this is a Barren strawberry (Potentilla sterilis) (it has fruit but they don’t become ‘fleshy and red’). I can tell which species it is from the top of the leaf that’s showing – the ‘terminal tooth’ is shorter than those on either side of it.
Last Sunday I saw my first Bluebells (Hyacinthoides sp.) of the year, almost certainly Spanish or hybrids rather than native Bluebells, but still beautiful to my eye.
I think this is Common stork’s-bill (Erodium cicutarium), a nice surprise growing amongst the grass at Cardiff Bay Wetland Reserve.
Cornsalad is such a dainty little plant, with very delicate, pale blue flowers. I almost missed these growing by the path at Grangemoor Park and have since seen them in a couple of places. This is probably Common cornsalad (Valerianella locusta), but the only way to be sure it’s not one of the other four varieties is to check the fruit, which won’t be possible till later in the season.
This is Danish scurvygrass (Cochlearia danica), originally a seaside plant that has now become widespread by following the road-salting trucks along the roads of Britain.
Gorse (Ulex sp.) never seems to stop flowering, though the truth is that there are two Gorse species and, when one stops flowering, the other takes over.
These Grape hyacinth (Muscari sp.) have become naturalised in my local cemetery, probably spreading from one or two deliberate grave-top plantings, or from nearby home gardens. I love their blue.
Petty spurge (Euphorbia peplus) is a very common little wildflower that’s often overlooked.
Spotting this flowering Ragwort by the roadside near Cardiff Bay was a bright surprise. It’s probably Common ragwort (Senecio jacobaea).
Red dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum). I’m a big fan of all the dead-nettles – the ‘dead’ in their name refers to the fact that they aren’t covered in stinging hairs!
Allium triquetrum, the Three-cornered leek, is a pretty, if somewhat smelly flower but considered an alien invasive plant species here in Britain.
Back in January I posted about the Cobalt crust-finding challenge I was taking part in with my friends from the Glamorgan Fungus Group. This month we’ve been at it again but our challenge species are rusts, specifically Uromyces dactylis (below right) and Uromyces ficaria which are both found on Lesser Celandine; Puccinia urtica (below left) on Nettles; Uromyces muscari (the other four photos) on native, cultivated and hybrid Bluebells; and on Nipplewort Lapsana communis.
Though finding and photographing the Nettle rust is more for the masochist than the faint-hearted – our group has joked about buying thick rubber gloves up to our elbows(!), the other rusts are less dangerous though no less of a challenge. I’ve had most success with the Bluebell rust – probably a reflection of the fact that everyone loves Bluebells so they’ve been planted almost everywhere, but have found only one specimen of one of the rusts on Lesser Celandine, despite the flowers being very plentiful and numerous in my local parks and wild areas. And I have yet to find a specimen of Nipplewort rust – probably because I have yet to positively identify Nipplewort (this is why I’ve taken up a botany menteeship!).
Still, just as we did with Cobalt crust, our group members have thrown themselves into this challenge and, to date, our combined total stands at over 140 separate finds. And, just like last time, our finds are being fed into our local biodiversity database so our challenge is helping to increase the knowledge base for these under-recorded fungi. Citizen science rocks!
I can’t believe it’s almost a year since I visited Cwm George. Luckily, I now live much nearer to this magnificent woodland so I’ll definitely be going back more often. I had a long walk here on Thursday with my friend Hilary, chatting and botanising and soaking in the beauty of the wild garlic and the bluebells and so much more.
This walk, called Salmon Leaps, is one of eight in the Vale of Glamorgan for which there are downloadable pamphlets available (see here for this one). Locals say there haven’t been salmon in these streams for years but don’t let that put you off. Ours was a variation of the routes in the brochure but with much of the same picturesque scenery. Let me show you me some of the highlights …
Crossing the Cadoxton River (well, stream, really)
The beeches of Cwm George, carpeted with swathes of wild garlic
Looking across farmland to the village of Michaelston-le-Pit
A weir, with a small lake behind, on the upper Cadoxton River near Cwrt-Yr-Ala (where the salmon are supposed to leap)
Heading in to another woodland, Cwm Penllwynog, and, below, some of its beautiful bluebells
Wildflowers lined the hedgerows as we headed back towards Dinas Powys along Beauville Lane
More woodland – this is Coed Twyncyn
Bluebell, Bute Park, Common dog-violet, Daisy, dandelion, Germander speedwell, Golden saxifrage, gorse, Greater stitchwort, Green alkanet, Herb Robert, Lesser Celandine, primrose, Red campion, Sweet violet, White deadnettle, Wild garlic, Wild strawberry, Wood anemone
This weekend I could have paid £12 to see what I’m sure would have been gorgeous flowers and inspirational displays at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Flower Show being held here in Cardiff’s Bute Park but, as I don’t have that kind of cash to splash at the moment, I decided to see what flowers I could find in Bute Park for nothing. With 18 different types of wildflowers currently in bloom I certainly wasn’t disappointed. Enjoy!
There were: Bluebell (mostly Spanish but I found a few natives) (Hyacinthoides non-scripta); Daisy (Bellis perennis); Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale); White deadnettle (Lamium album); Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum); Germander speedwell (Veronica Chamaedrys); Gorse (Ulex europaeus); Greater stitchwort (Stellaria holostea); Green alkanet (Pentaglottis sempervirens); Lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria); Opposite-leaved golden saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium); Primrose (Primula vulgaris); Red campion (Silene dioica); Common dog-violet (Viola riviniana) and Sweet violet (Viola odorata); Wild garlic (Allium ursinum); Wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca); and Wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa).