The promise of flowers.

There has been sunshine and there have been cold winds. It’s still only February, but the promise of spring is there in the air.

The garden is still mud brown and I long for the colour and exuberance of flowers.

So, I stare at the orchid flowering on my kitchen table. It came from the co-op on special offer, but it was designed for some where far more lush and exotic than my plastic covered winter table.

The nectar lines are to tempt in the insects that the orchid will reward with nectar and take payment in the form of pollen transported on the insects’ backs. All that irresistible beauty is to ensure that the orchid will cross pollinate and seeds will form.

No chance of that in this kitchen!

However on the garden table outside, something more promising is taking place.

Here a few violas from the garden centre have survived the snow and perked up in the sunshine. They are very close to their wild heartsease pansies and have not been so over bred so that no bee can use them.

A huge Queen bumble bee has recognised the honey guide makings on the flower and she is in! This is a scarce time for flowers for us all, but she has emerged from her winter dormancy to find what ever she can to fuel her self up in order to found her new dynasty in the garden.

I think she is a bombus terrestris Queen and she will found her colony underground, probably in an abandoned mouse hole.

I hope she found enough food in these few early flowers on my patio table to hatch her new season of pollinators for the flowers that we all long to see.


Putting the butter into butterfly. (Valentine’s Day!)

I’ve just seen my first butterfly of the year in the garden. It was a lovely yellow male brimstone ( the females are green) and its similarity to the colour of butter makes it the original butterfly in the English language!

There is a butterfly there! A brimstone photographed a few years ago on a primerose.

It is commonly called a Brimstone in English, where it’s yellow colour is associated with sulphur. “ Hell fire and brimstone” apparently comes from the sulphuric smell left after a divine lighting strike has cut down a sinner. The French name Citron is much milder by comparison and lemon yellow is more appealing than the smell of hell fire!

The Brimstone butterfly is remarkably long lived. It survives for up to a year and it hibernates for seven months of winter in woodland, where it hangs up with its wings folded inconspicuously like an old leaf.

The males wake up much earlier than the females and she waits until the food plant that her offspring will need is in leaf.

Both genders feed on flower nectar and especially like scabious flowers. Their caterpillar food plant is alder buckthorn, which likes wet places and brimstone females move to wet lands to lay their eggs. Butterflies which hatch from these caterpillars sleep the winter away in woodlands, to which they migrate in the cold times and emerge to mate and start the cycle all over again in the spring

Today the butter yellow flash of wings was a promise of spring for me. For the butterfly, it was proof of a winter safely weathered and an invitation to butterfly love!

We will have to wait a bit to see this butterfly!

7.8 . 6th February 2023

That dead hand, clasped in her father’s hand under the concrete roof.

That tiny baby’s hand, bandaged in the incubator, the umbilical scar where she was cut from her crushed mother : still fresh .

Such random horror that stops everything, questions everything and leaves eyes staring wide open in the dark .

Garden pesticides are contributing to songbird decline, study finds |

This seems so obvious you would think that it doesn’t need saying: but it still does. If you put poisonous chemicals on your pretty garden then you kill the food chain that the pretty birds rely on and they die! Scientists urge people to stop ‘spraying gardens with poison’ and adopt wildlife-friendly practices
— Read on

Softly green.

When the snow melts, the countryside looks flattened . There are tide marks of green along the wet ploughed brown shine of fields and not much else. But along the little stream between the rocks, the moss is in its element.

In the deep valley the moss is plump and luminously green. It covers the rocks and the base of the trees and where water drips down the face of the gully, it makes silent soft waterfalls of damp vegetation. In February, when nothing much else is growing, I am drawn to this wonderful moss, to the few ferns that cling amongst it and to the sound that is swallowed by the myriad fronds.

The Easter Island face of the rock looks down on this miraculous pulse of green in such a dead month and seems to be protecting it . Spring will come and the green will cover the little valley and the fields and the gardens. Until then it waits in this quiet waterfall of thick, thick moss.