Tag Archives: wild flowers

A Peaceful Easter

Sunrise over wooded valley with pink tinges to the lavender grey sky as it meets the hills on the horizon
Easter sunrise 2020

The morning was cool and peaceful as I was looking out over our valley on today’s Easter sunrise. The strangeness of life in recent weeks has pervaded every part of human life, yet in some curious ways, it seems to have passed by the natural world: Nature has continued on her merry little way.

Our cultivated Spring flowers and flowering shrubs brighten our yards and gardens. The field outside my door is dotted with wild flowers – dandelions and daisies, with cow parsley and lady’s smock popping up along the margin. This year, these wild flowers won’t meet an untimely demise under the the local council’s mowing machines, as that service is one of many that has been suspended for the time being. Grass-cutting will for now only take place for safety reasons, near road junctions.

Easter flowers for 2020. Jug of daffodils and spring leaves
Easter flowers – Daffodils and Spring leaves

In the UK, we are now at that point in the year where the early Spring dawn is host to that incredible natural phenomenon, the dawn chorus. This morning, I was enjoying the glorious birdsong music of our neighbourhood bird choristers at 5.30am. If you are not naturally an early riser, it can still be a treat to the ears to listen in on your local feathered choir at some point between mid-April and late May. Whilst dedicated enthusiasts will not be able to join in public woodland events to experience the dawn chorus this year, even in urban areas you can tune in to your local dawn chorus simply by opening your bedroom window or standing at your back door. It is such an amazing sound. I am working on finding a way to share this with you.

For many of us, being able to connect with the natural world on our doorsteps is a huge relief, particularly this year with the very necessary coronavirus lockdowns. Nature really is a natural tonic for our mental health.

I hope you too are able to spend some peaceful moments with Nature. Stay safe in these strange times.

Peggy

Three - three hedgerow trees - header

Finding Three for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

We’re looking for groups of three items for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week. I was keeping my eyes peeled as we went along on our woodland and wayside walk on this midsummer’s day – this is what I spotted:

Three - three foxgloves in flower
Three foxglove spikes, flowering in the woods

Foxgloves are definitely a sign of Summer for me. I love their spikes of purple flowers against the rich Summer greens of the woodland.

Three - three ox-eye daisies
Three ox-eye daisies flowering by a fence

These three ox-eye daisies looked much lovelier than I have managed to captured in my photo! Their sunny faces were looking up at me from beside this wooden fence.

Three - three red poppies
Three wild red poppies flowering by the field edge

The object of our walk today was to see the wild poppies flowering along the field edges. I’d planned to take more photos but the breeze had picked up again, which was better for walking uphill on a rather warm day, but was not so good for photographing poppies! Never mind – the poppies danced for us in the breeze instead, which was still lovely to see.

Do take a look at what others have found in groups of three for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor

Happy Summer Solstice :)

Summer wildflowers for Summer Solstice
Summer wildflowers for Summer Solstice

We might have no Summer sunshine to share with you (at least not here in North East England!) but never fear, here is a Summer meadow filled with the sunshine of flowers for our Summer Solstice celebration.

While I’m sharing my Summer meadow flowers with you, let’s also be thankful for the bees, butterflies, moths, hoverflies and many more pollinating creatures that feed on our wild flowers – and garden flowers – and allow us to enjoy their beauty. Another blogging friend shared in a wonderful post that it has been Pollinator Week this week and she gave some great gardening tips on how we might all do our small bit for our pollinating creatures. You’ll find Woodland Gnome’s post on her Forest Garden Blog.

Happy Summer Solstice 😀

J Peggy Taylor

Dog Roses

Spotting Summer wildflowers

Our Summer woodlands are painted with an artist’s palette of wild flowers and greenery. Wherever we walk, our senses are treated to a kaleidoscope of colours and scents.

On this occasion our walk took us along a favourite path that is always rather wet and muddy. Either side of the narrow woodland path, the tumble of undergrowth was dotted with the bright pinks of Herb Robert, the purples of Tufted Vetch, the pastel pinks of Dog Roses, the bright yellows of Buttercups, the creamy whites of Honeysuckle and the lofty white umbels of Hogweed.

However, this time I decided to seek out some of the less obvious flowers to share with you.

Brooklime - the puddle flower

This is Brooklime Veronica beccabunga. I love that Latin name – I think it sounds like it should be the name of a character in a Roald Dahl story!
Brooklime belongs to the Speedwell family and has a small bright blue flower with a pale greenish-white centre, fairly typical of Speedwells. However, unlike other Speedwells it is likely to be the fleshy green oval leaves you’d notice first.

Brooklime flowers
Brooklime flowers

The delicate Brooklime flowers grow in pairs from the leaf axils and I always feel look rather small for the size of the leaves. As its name suggests, Brooklime grows in marshy places. Our patch here grows in a very muddy spot and is often part of a puddle.

Meadowsweet - close-up

At the next path junction I smelled a tell-tale Summer smell and soon spotted some stems of Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria with their fluffy sprays of creamy flowers. It was from these flowers that this distinctive scent was drifting. In some parts of our woods Meadowsweet grows in swathes but here there were only a few stems.

Meadowsweet
Meadowsweet

They had sprung through a bare patch of earth bank on the side of a drainage ditch, dug as part of some footpath repair work earlier in the year. It will be lovely to see a little colony of these flowers developing along this muddy ditch. Meadowsweet is another plant that likes to grow in damp and marshy places.

Common Marsh Bedstraw
Common Marsh Bedstraw

On the other side of the path I spotted some straggling stems of the delicate Common Marsh-Bedstraw Galium palustre, growing through the path-side vegetation. As you’d expect, the ‘Marsh’ in this plant’s name confirms the habitat in which it grows. Similarly to other Bedstraw species, the leaves of Common Marsh-Bedstraw grow in whorls around the stem. Its 4-petalled white flowers grow in small clusters. Unlike some ‘little white flower’ species, the flowers of this Bedstraw are quite sculptured and well-defined. I love the curve of the petals – they look like tiny sugar flowers.

Common Figwort
Common Figwort

Another plant that was re-establishing itself on the side of the drainage ditch was Common Figwort Scrophularia nodosa. This curious flower is another inhabitant of damp woodlands. It is unusual in having square stems and Figwort flowers are quite odd too.

Common Figwort - square stem
Square stem of Common Figwort

The flower buds are globular but then the ‘upper lip’ opens like a mouth to reveal its maroon throat and a yellow ‘tongue’!

Common Figwort - flower close-up
Common Figwort flower

My son said it reminded him of a mini version of the Pitcher plant we’ve seen in botanic gardens. However, unlike the Pitcher plant, I don’t believe Figwort is carnivorous! We see lots of it in our woods, especially along the verges of the wide woodland rides where its moist habitat is often found.

Heath Speedwell - close-up
Heath Speedwell

Along the path edge I spotted some pale blue spikes of Heath Speedwell Veronica officinalis. On closer inspection you can see the pale blue flowers of Heath Speedwell also have violet veins running through them. The soft furry leaves are spoon-shaped with a serrated edge. I love the shape of the pale violet flower buds with their protective green sepals. Heath Speedwell is a grassland flower but we often find it along woodland rides too.

I must give credit to my son for the photos in this post. His efforts to capture images of small flowers in difficult lighting conditions are usually more successful than mine 🙂

J Peggy Taylor

Spring Flowers for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

When I saw Cee’s chosen theme this week was “Flowers”, with so much inspiration around at the moment, I thought I’d follow on from my recent Daily Post Photo Challenge on the theme of Spring with my first entry in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

My chosen flowers for this challenge are all Springtime flowers we see near us here in the northern UK.

SOMETHING OLD …

This one’s from my wild flower photo archives.

Wood Anemones - from my wild flowers archive
Wood Anemones – from my wild flowers archive

SOMETHING NEW …

I spotted this lovely little clump of Daisies when we were in the woods this weekend.

I loved the way these Daisies were growing through the greenery of other woodland flowers
I loved the way these Daisies were growing through the greenery of other woodland flowers

SOMETHING BORROWED …

I love this photo that one of my sons took of this small but very distinctive Spring flower – Moschatel (it features in another post I’ve written too)

The intriguing 'Town Clock' flower - Moschatel, growing on a sunny bank
The intriguing ‘Town Clock’ flower – Moschatel, growing on a sunny bank

SOMETHING BLUE …

How could I resist the opportunity of sharing one of my favourite Spring flowers another time! (This one features in another post I’ve written too.)

Deep blue - native UK Bluebells bursting through the blanket of last year's bracken
Deep blue – native UK Bluebells bursting through the blanket of last year’s bracken

Isn’t Spring amazing! Flowers, flowers everywhere!
… and thank you Cee for giving me another excuse to shout about them too 🙂

J Peggy Taylor

Sunny Saturday in the woods

New month: Nature roundup

We seem to have spun through January and reached February already in 2014. I am relieved to say in our northern valley, apart from periodic bouts of strong winds and gales, we have not suffered with the extreme weather conditions that are being experienced elsewhere in the UK.

Walking out in our local countryside in mild winter sunshine on both days of this weekend I couldn’t help thinking about the people of Somerset and others who are still suffering flooding – a month on – with the weather forecast again offering them little in the way of respite.

In recent winters we’ve had snow that lasted for weeks but this year on the first weekend in February, muddy paths and busy burns were the only signs of winter weather we encountered. The sunshine was very pleasant and we remarked on it with other walkers we met along the way.

Whilst I would say our winter has been relatively mild, we were still very surprised on Saturday when within a short stretch of a favourite woodland path we spotted Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium) in three different stages of growth.

Green Hogweed in February
Green Hogweed in February

The first example was particularly remarkable as it was not brown and broken as you’d expect in late winter, but green with newly-formed seed pods! We normally see it at that stage in August not February!

Seedhead stars on old Hogweed stems
Seedhead stars on old Hogweed stems

A little further on, along the stretch of path where summer finds us spotting curious insect-life, some brown stems of last summer’s Hogweed were still standing proud above the remains of other plants and grasses. I love the way the winter light reflects from their starry seedless heads. These old stalks still have beauty to offer yet.

Hogweed with seeds - in February
Hogweed with seeds – in February

Across the path in the lea of the towering mature pine trees we saw our third state of Hogweed. These ones were in full autumn glory, their heads sporting a full complement of perfectly formed seeds – again, a beautiful sight with the morning sun catching them as they danced in the light breeze.

Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage by the burn
Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage by the burn

As we retraced our steps homeward we stopped by the burn to seek out any signs of early spring flowers. No Dog’s Mercury or Wood Sorrel yet, but the very-small-flower-with-the-very-long-name was looking promising by the waters-edge. I’m talking about Opposite-Leaved Golden Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium)- which, as you can see, is indeed a very long name for so small a plant. The tiny golden flowers were ready in their buds so I’m sure will appear very soon.

Sunday brought another chance for a sunny walk under azure blue skies. Today’s walk was in a different direction, along the valley side on an old mineral line before dropping into another woodland below. The spring signs I was seeking here were Blackthorn blossom, Gorse, Broom and Primroses. I found two out of four, so wasn’t disappointed.

The Blackthorn buds are filling up but none had burst forth yet. Both Gorse and Broom grow along the old railway line. I thought the Gorse looked particularly beautiful against the amazing blue of the sky.

gorse-against-blue-sky

The birch trees with their white trunks and purple twigs also caught my eye as I walked along.

winter-birches-blue-sky

There was lots of mud in the wood … but no sign of primroses today. Still, there’s plenty of time for them yet.

J Peggy Taylor