27. April 2013 · 1 comment · Categories: Plants

I went for a walk in the woods today, braving the April showers, and amid the not-quite-flowering-yet bluebell carpet, a couple of beautiful Snake's head fritillaries. I have these planted in my garden, but seeing them wild is so much more wonderful.

Spring may not have sprung but some count the start of March as the start of Spring. Personally I’d say it’s thinking about it but isn’t sure which coat to wear or whether it needs a hat and gloves.

Something’s stirring though. Today I saw a Red Kite and a Buzzard circling over my garden as well as a fox legging it through it and over the fence to next door. Green things are poking their heads up and some daffs have even dared to flower. Roll on double digit temperatures!


We can tell that winter has finally arrived because:

  • It’s extremely cold out
  • Pools and puddles of water have taken on a hard, shiny appearance
  • Winterwatch has been on tele, though sadly I’ve mostly missed it
  • Snow has happened, with more promised for tomorrow
  • This blog has been hibernating, but fear not, the occasional flurry of activity will occur
  • The hits for the Fox prints in the snow post have gone through the roof, as they do every winter.

When tidying up the garden in the winter I regularly find these bright green caterpillars. I'm amazed that the hard frosts don't harm their squidgy bodies. This one looks like a sweet, curled up on the top of a Scabious flower head.

Charlara Dieback of Ash

Infographic courtesy of Crowders.

They also have an article presenting a look at the potential impact on the UK of Chalara Dieback of Ash.


It seems as if autumn swept in over just a few days and now the country is transformed. Here are a few things I've noticed recently.

  • The feeders are smothered in Goldfinches and Greenfinches.
  • Magpies and Jays are much in evidence. Jays in particular always seem to suddenly appear at this time of year, though you had hardly seen them at all for the other months. I've blogged about this before. Twice.
  • The trees are showing their autumn colours – some of them are golden yellow already, but the full display is yet to be seen.
  • It's raining. A lot.
  • Fruit and veg crops didn't fare well with the topsy turvy weather over the year. I read that a famous English vineyard has had to ditch the entire year's grape harvest as it's just no good.
  • The garden spiders have mostly had their fun and there aren't quite so many webs to walk into of a morning.

The BBC has an absolutely brilliant gallery of woodland wonders, from the Woodland Trust's recent photo competition, as judged by Simon King. Definitely worth a look.

It's been raining so much recently that I haven't been able to find a dry moment to mow the lawn, but that lawn has been growing fast. And with it, all the weeds that usually stay close cropped and never get to flower properly are doing their thing. I took some photos, getting down on my hands and knees with a macro lens and here's the first for you: White clover.

Did you know that it's edible in a number of ways and is actually part of the pea family? Furthermore it is sometimes deliberately included in lawn-seed mixes because it can green over even in tough conditions. Suddenly I'm thinking it's not a weed at all.


The BBC reports on the impact on fauna and flora of the multi-month wet spell this 'summer'. In a nutshell, plants, slugs and snails win – though my Lupins would beg to disagree, the slugs and snails being all conquering in that portion of the garden. Bees, butterflies and birds are particularly hard hit. All the details are in the article.

Here are some things I've noticed recently:

  • It's still wet. Very wet, but at least we get the odd half day of respite, and sometimes even a full day before it tips it down again.
  • Birds are flocking back to garden feeders over the last week or two, at least in my garden. Blue tits, Great tits, Chaffinches and Robins in particular. They were notably absent for the month or so before. Is is the wet weather that's forcing them to the feeders?
  • Plants are springing up at a ferocious rate. The wet and warm weather with occasional bursts of sunshine seems to be just perfect for rapid growth.
  • There aren't so many bees, wasps and butterflies to be seen since the droughtmonsoon began, presumably because the weather is keeping them off the wing.
  • Ants don't seem to be especially phased by the weather.