In which I share a little video of the latest wildflowers to bloom in my neck of the woods …
‘Modestly cheerful’ – this is how Richard Mabey describes Common whitlowgrass (Erophila verna) in Flora Britannica. He continues: ‘The small white flowers are amongst the first to appear in March, and are followed by seed-pods a little like miniaturised versions of honesty’s.’
He also explains that the name is due to the plant’s use by medieval herbalists to treat whitlows, not a medical condition I was familiar with but which the Oxford Dictionary defines as ‘an abscess in the soft tissue near a fingernail or toenail’. I don’t recommend a Google image search as the condition looks quite gruesome, but these wildflowers, often present in large massed displays, are a delight.
Despite our un-spring-like weather, more and more wildflowers are coming in to bloom. Here are some I’ve noticed during the past fortnight’s ramblings in my local countryside: Comfrey, Field scabious, Flax, Knapweed, Oxeye daisy, Ragged robin, Red campion and Red valerian, and Yarrow. Though my video shows a decidedly blue-pink range of hues, there are other-coloured species in bloom – it’s just that I intend doing some family- or species-specific blogs so will save those photographs for now.
This native British wildflower may well be the ‘common weed of gardens, arable fields and waste places’ that my Flora Britannica describes, but I’ve only found it once, earlier this week, in my local area, despite there being plenty of those suitable habitats. This is Common fumitory (Fumaria officinalis), which also goes by the vernacular names of Earth smoke and Red-tipped-web. Flora Britannica goes on to explain:
Both scientific and English names stem from the Latin Fumus terrae – ‘smoke of the earth’. The delicate, grey-green leaves do have a slightly smoky appearance, enough to persuade one seventeenth-century herbalist that ‘it appeareth to those that behold it at a distance, as if the ground were all of a smoak’.
Although I’ve seen Spanish Bluebells that are white and even shades of pink and lilac, this was the first time I’ve seen white native Bluebells. There was only one, amongst the thousands in this fabulous piece of ancient woodland, but it certainly stood out from the crowd.
As the Bluebells are beginning to fade, especially after all the rain we’ve had in the past week, I thought I’d make a little video of some of my favourite Bluebell images. Enjoy!
A month ago, I shared some of the yellow-flowered wildflowers I’d found for the weekly #WildflowerHour challenge. In the weeks since, more yellow flowers have begun to bloom and, as today’s weather (I’m writing this on Saturday, as we sit under a heavy rain warning) is grey and windy and very wet, I fancy some bright sunshiny yellow. So, here we go …
The flowers are the butterflies’ favourite Bird’s-foot trefoil and the vibrant bushes of Broom. Although I shared some of these last time, I couldn’t resist a Shrew’s-eye view of more Cowslips. The buttercups are beginning to take over from the Lesser celandine as Nature’s yellow carpet in the meadows – these are Creeping and Meadow buttercups. Prickly sow-thistles line the edges of the lane behind my house, and Spotted medick is now brightening up the pavement verges. I’d glimpsed Yellow archangel last time but now these lovely spikes are popping up everywhere in my local woodland, a beautiful compliment to the Bluebells.
The 2021 orchid season has begun!
In my local area, the first orchids to bloom are the Early-purples (Orchis mascula) and this week I was delighted to find them in two local areas, one a nature reserve, the other a woodland I regularly visit.
The Plantlife website notes that there is a legend the ‘Early Purple Orchid grew under Christ’s cross, and the leaves were splattered with the blood of Christ, have resulted in the names Gethesmane and cross flower.’
The website also lists some of this orchid’s other vernacular names: ‘adder’s meat, bloody butchers, red butchers, goosey ganders, kecklegs, kettle cases and kite’s legs’. Personally, I just call them beautiful!
More luscious wildflowers have begun blooming in recent days. Here are some I’ve noticed:
As I witnessed when taking these photos, bumblebees adore Bugle (Ajuga reptans). I can’t think of a better reason to plant some in your own wildflower garden.
You can tell just by looking at its flower shape that Common vetch (Vicia sativa) is a member of the pea family. Apparently, in ancient times, people cultivated this plant and ate its seed pods, just as we do today with peas and beans.
I’ll bet you all have a bunch of names for this plant, Cleavers (Galium aparine). Sticky Willy is a favourite.
After I recognised the leaves of this plant, I revisited the spot in my local woodland each week until, finally, the beautiful flowers began to open. This is the sweet-smelling Woodruff (Galium odoratum).
This plant was growing quite close to where I found the Woodruff and was a first sighting for me. Gardeners will, I’m sure, recognise it as a Euphorbia because Wood spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides) is the ancestor of today’s popular garden varieties of Spurge.
There’s something quite startling about a tiny blue creature flying through your field of vision – it’s certainly eyecatching. I saw my first Holly blue of the year during Sunday’s meander but that one didn’t linger for a photograph. Yesterday, in a location where I didn’t see any last year, they were like buses – I saw four in total, including these two that floated in together.