Early Flowers

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Spring is really happening now at the woods, and the buds are bursting and the first wildflowers are emerging.  We have a wonderful display of feral daffodils at the woods.  Some of them are more like wild daffodils, others are all manner of different varieties.  They were planted about 50 years ago, and have naturalised and form a wonderful display in the spring, as well as acting as a source of nectar for the early insects.

Daffodils

Daffodils

Daffodil

Daffodil backlit by the evening sun

We have always had one patch of cowslips at the woods.  Last year we noticed that a few had spread to other areas in the main clearing, which was good news.  This year we have noticed at least 12 self-seeded plants in Betty’s Wood as well – about half a mile from the original clump – near the ponds in the damp and clay soil.  It is really exciting to see these spreading.

Cowslip

One of the cowslips in Betty’s Wood

There are wild primrose growing in our orchard, and they are also spreading – in fact they may meet the cowslip and produce the oxlip hybrids, but this hasn’t happened yet.  They catch the evening light in an amazingly beautiful way.

Primrose

Primrose

Yellow is also the colour of the lesser celandine, a plant of the shade, which is growing and spreading on our paths and under the elder scrub.  This has just started to flower and I have managed to capture it in both colour and black and white – which I think looks more spectacular (photo at the top of this post)

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Finally, we have the blue speedwell coming into flower in our meadows.  Such a wonderful and delicate flower, and so difficult to photograph – it is very tiny, and very delicate so it moves in the slightest breeze, and is very easy to over-expose the image too.

Speedwell

Speedwell

The trees, too, are starting to flower – we have the first buds on the wild cherry and crab apple that we planted in Betty’s Wood in 2011, but which haven’t flowered until now.  There are also buds on our domestic apples in our orchard, and on the rowan trees. The woods are truly coming to life!

Cherry Blossom Buds

Cherry Blossom Buds

Bud burst on Rowan

Bud burst on Rowan – leaves and flowers

Crocus

Crocus by the roadside

Yellow – the colour of spring

Buttercup in evening sun

Buttercup in evening sun

Buttercups in the meadow

Buttercups in the meadow

Buttercups

Buttercups in the meadow

Spring has been very late this year, but is now here in glorious colour.  I got to thinking about the colours associated with different seasons.  Winter to me is white, or rather, monochrome.  Colours are very muted, there is snow, and any plants that struggle through, like snowdrops, are white.  To me, the excitement of spring starts in the woods when we see a tinge of yellow, from our daffodils, but also from our lesser celandine in the shade of the trees and on our woodland paths.  Lesser celandine is like a herald of the beauty to come in the form of the showy daffodils.

Cowslip

Cowslip

Lesser celandine

Lesser celandine

Primrose

Primrose at Alvecote Wood

More spring yellowness comes from the primroses and cowslips that have been slowly and quietly spreading across our wet and shady areas in the woods, doing particularly well this year (and maybe producing oxlips in future – those showy primroses up on long stems that result from primrose/cowslip hybrids).  These little gems of brightness on cloudy and wet spring days are really cheering, particularly so this year after the dismal, long and dark winter.

 

White bluebell among blue

White among the blue

Then, ever so slowly, the palette changes.  Yellow stays with us, in the form of buttercups, but is joined, first by blue and then by white, pink and all the colours of the rainbow.  Blue is the complimentary colour of yellow, providing a wonderful counterpoint to the yellowness of the daffodils, buttercups and primroses.  We are so very lucky that our woods are full of bluebells, almost all of them blue, a few white and pink, and a stunning sight they make.  There is also a blue counterpoint in the meadow in the form of both germander speedwell, and forget-me-not – these two beautiful, complimentary colours enhancing each other.  Even the emerging leaves, acid-green with a strong yellow tone, and the yellow of the catkins and tree-flowers, add to this spring yellowness.  The first butterflies are also yellow – the brimstones that range along the woodland edge looking for buckthorn on which to lay their eggs.

Single bluebell

Single bluebell

The changing palette brings in purples and pinks (campion, snakeshead fritillary, early purple vetch) and white (greater and lesser stitchwort, Jack-under-the-hedge, early ox-eye daisy and mayweeds).  These are the colours of summer – along with the red of poppies, the blue of cornflower, the pink of corncockle, and a multitude of beautiful colours from clovers, vetches, sainfoin and our wonderful southern marsh orchids.  Summer to me is a rainbow, rather than one particular colour.

This year, spring has seemed the more spectacular because it has been compressed – coming late, and making up for that with a vengeance.  Let us hope it is a harbinger of a beautiful, colour-filled summer.