Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday 26th February ... and it is (sunny!)

In the garden there are one or two early primulas coming into flower, pink and orange, so I went on a quest to see if there were any wild primroses showing yet in the wood ...

The fresh green leaves of the primrose plants are vibrant in the leaf little, and there are some tiny buds still coiled tightly into little packages, just waiting for a bit more sunshine, before they burst open.  How exciting.  It wont be too long before they look like this ... then we really will feel spring is on the way, but judging by the dawn chorus this morning, the birds have no doubt that it is!

Primrose wine was once a heady favourite at Mayday celebrations ...
but I have always wondered if it was drunk so early simply because they could not bear to leave it any longer!

Friday, February 24, 2012

24th February - warm and sunny!

Even at this time of the year, walking through the woods, it's hard not to WANT to see flowers!  Of course, there are not many about at this season, but if you know where to look there are always some.  The nettle family - much despised because of its stinging members - can usually provide a bloom at any time of the year, so maybe they should not get such a bad press!

The dead nettle sounds as though it should be a dull, morose sort of a plant ... but its rich mossy leaves and deep purple flowers are a joy, especially when the late winter sun catches them - and you - unaware ....
"When the deep purple falls,
Over sleepy garden walls,
And the sun begins to linger in the sky ...."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

23rd February .... now it's the warmest day!

Those of you who follow me on facebook will know that I have not had time "to go down to the woods today" for quite a few days ... I have a new puppy!  Of course, when he is older it will be another REASON (if one was needed) to do so, but at the moment, puppy sitting is rather the order of the day, though he is allowed in the garden!

Still, I sneaked away for a while this morning... the woods are looking lovely and changing by the day.  Today the temperature is around 16 degrees - the warmest so far this year. Crazy: two weeks ago it was almost that many degrees below freezing!  That's English weather for you!

The catkins and lamb's tails are looking so sweet - no pollen quite yet, though ... although a hopeful brimstone butterfly was looking for some.  Pollen from early "flowers" like this are essential to many insects in their first flights of the year.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

11th February ... the coldest of the year!!

Well, apparently last night the temperature went down to almost 18 degrees below ... not too impressive if you are in Russia or Alaska, but pretty low here!!  The milk in the bottles on the doorstep was frozen!  The sun is beautiful, though, and everything sparkles!

The grasses are crisp with frost ... they snap off if you touch them...

... but the sun has melted the snow from the branches of trees and shrubs, and they are stark grey and black against the white background.

How long will the cold snap last, I wonder?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

7th February - snow beneath the trees!

Woodland Aristocracy!

After the weekend's snow, the woodland floor is patchy with ice and crystallized snowflakes ... in places, where the sun has made its way through the canopy it has already melted - and suddenly there is a little flash of "living" snow: a stoat in ermine, it's white coat shimmering in the winter sunlight.  Magical!!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

2nd February - Groundhog day!

Well, there was no chance of meeting a groundhog in Triangle Wood, but if there had been one about, he would have made a bolt for his home, as there were shadows aplenty around!  It's a lovely, sunny morning, though bitterly cold!  There didn't seem to be much life around at all except birds, everything must be snuggled up warm waiting out the last of the winter!  But one joyful sight: a few tiny violets popping their pretty little heads above the parapet of the frost!!

Truthfully, not quite as open as these - but still an inspiration on such a cold morning!

And for those of you who would like to see Groundhog this cold, February morning, here you are anyway:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

1st February - cold and bright!

OK, I confess, I have not made it down to the wood for several days.  I cannot really blame the weather, although it has been unpleasant, but I shall make up for it today... I was determined to find more than just the odd hellebore in flowers, to I really looked closely in the little dells and dips of the woodland floor, and there I found tiny gems hidden away ... the first were like little stars of white light against the leaf litter - chickweed.

Chickweed, as it's name suggests, was one of the herbs used to add variety to hens' food at the end of winter - and the chickens int he wood were making the most of the green shoots.  Then, I saw little sapphires, too!  Tiny speedwell flowers rioting in and out of the early grasses.  And all this while there was still heavy frost on the ground.

 The magic of nature is at work in this shortest, sometimes most dismal, month of the year!