Sunday, May 23, 2010

Spring flowers

“Relentless” is a word I find myself overusing at the moment but thus seems our pace of life and my blogging is weeks behind what’s now happening. I’ve been wanting for a while to publish some photos of flowers in our woodland. This year's widening carpet of bluebells need no introduction.

Next up is the primrose, the prima rosa, meaning first flower of the year. It’s a bright and reassuring sign that spring has arrived and the sap is rising once more in the deciduous trees. It was Disraeli’s favourite flower; 19th April has become Primrose Day, when primrose flowers are placed on Disraeli’s statue and grave. Hmmm … which flower would we use to remember Thatcher? or the new double act of Cameron and Clegg?

Violets: I think these ones are Common dog-violet, a reasonable guess as V. riviniana is one of the commonest and widespread of the many species in the violet family. The “dog” bit of its name tells us that the flowers are unscented. I think this is overly mean as an unscented flower is one thing but an unwashed dog is in a different league entirely odour-wise.

Next photo: Cuckooflower or Lady’s Smock, whose flowers can vary from pale pink to mauve. Its flowering is meant to herald the arrival of the cuckoo but this means that it shares this name, at least at a local level, with many other spring flowers.

Whilst the plants so far are as common as a very common thing, the wood anemone, whilst not rare is interesting as it’s apparently “one of the most faithful indicators or ancient woodland.” It tends not to spread by seed in Great Britain (I wonder if this also applies to Little Britain (Brittany) ?) and so it tends to spread very slowly by its roots. I’ll be a bit more attentive next spring to see how and where it grows in our woodland.

A little later to flower than the others, here’s the wisteria climbing up the red earth cob walls of our holiday gite. It’s certainly not a wild plant but rather a native of the USA, Korea, China and Japan.

And lastly, a flower that’s completely stumped us on the identification front. Three local farmers haven’t been able to help either. We’ve got clumps of it in the pasture (next two pics) of three of our paddocks and I’d like to find out what it is so I know what I’m up against. The sheep and pigs steer clear of it, so I peened my blade, wiped it with a whetstone and scythed it today, which should teach it a lesson. Please post a comment if you know what it is.

Favourite flower books: Marjorie Blamey’s Wild Flowers by Colour (easiest and most logical field guide you could hope for, flowers are grouped by colour) and Richard Mabey’s Flora Britannica (using their proper English names and delving into the folklore that surrounds the plants).

Next blog: an answer to a question posed by Naiad.