Buff tailed bumble bee

It’s good to see there are bees in the garden. There are plenty of nectar sources; among these are the pale pink blossoms on the blackberry vine which wends its way along the wall under the kitchen window. Already the petals are dropping as the fruits begin to form.

Bees go for purple flowers and we have quite a lot of these. The lavender, which they are strongly attracted to, is just coming into flower.

As a child I was scared to pass lavender bushes smothered in bees. Now I’ll happily lose time watching the bees at work on them, trying to ID them – usually not doing particularly well so I have to go indoors to refer to the bee chart we have on the wall.

Maybe I need a bee ID book…? (birthday present hint!).

 

Waterlilies

P1080729

The first waterlilies of the season have just opened to a rousing fanfare from me of “They’re here! The first this year.”

Our pond is always a source of interest and delight and has been even more so during these lockdown weeks, when we’ve had more time to appreciate our outdoor space and sit soaking up the sunshine and ambience in the garden. We are lucky, I know that.

Birdsong has become more audible with less traffic and almost no flights from and into Manchester airport, so empty skies have brought louder birdsong. The resident blackbird on our patch sits on nearby roof- and tree-tops singing beautifully, interspersing his song with a 4-note signature which he repeats quite often – and I reply, giving him something to cock his head to one side over and briefly ponder on before he’s off on the next riff of fabulous sounds.

But back to the waterlilies, which are a joy to behold and observe as they bud, then open and often attract visiting hoverflies, which alight on their petals.

Yellow

When we need a bit of brightness and sunshine, yellow is quite likely to be the colour we go for – maybe for clothes, paint to freshen up a room or as an accessory to an outfit.

It’s cheerful, bright, positive, clean, clear and is associated with the warmth of the sun.

I’ve heard it described as a “contact colour”. It attracts, is not forbidding and is the opposite of gloomy and dull (although muddy sulphurous yellows have a certain dark dinginess to them).

Main picture – Golden Anniversay rose in our garden (yes, I’ve been married that long!). Then clockwise – cowslip, evening primrose, dahlia-like flower in the Dordogne with carpenter bee, clouded yellow butterfly on scabious, unidentified wild flower in Texas (not the Yellow rose of Texas!) and flowering cactus in Texas.

 

 

There’s life in the old log yet

P1080667

This stump of a freshly felled tree in Anderton Nature Park caught my eye when walking there yesterday. It’s quite sad to see the remains of what must have been quite a large tree – maybe it had become diseased, maybe it was getting dangerous. We did hear the branch of a nearby tree creaking loudly and a bit alarmingly in the wind, as though it might have been loosening, ready to break off. We moved on sharpish!

The path took us through a wood full of past-their-best bluebells. Most of them were shrivelling and going to seed, but a few of the fresher and younger ones still looked magnificent. Right now the ground under the trees is carpeted with ramsens in full bloom, looking like soft white feathers.

The tree stump was surrounded by ramsens, and along with the ferns growing there they formed a wreath of green life, an appropriate memorial for a felled tree.

Cowslips

Cowslips – yes, I remember them. They take me back to the summer of 1966 when I was supposed to be revising for end of year exams at Saffron Walden Teacher Training College. It was sunny and warm, so I went with a group of friends to revise in the sun at the bottom of the sportsfield.

The song around at the time was Lazing on a Sunny Afternoon by The Kinks. That’s what we started singing when we’d had enough of the revision, then some of us got over or through the boundary hedge and made our way along the adjacent disused railway line for a delightful ramble in the countryside.

The railways had undergone severe cuts in the 1960s, thanks to Dr. Beeching, and there had once been a station in Saffron Walden. I don’t recall finding that but do remember the large number of wild flowers growing amongst the disused tracks. One of these was cowslips, and it’s the first time I remember looking at a wild flower that I’d only seen before as a picture in a book and recognising it.

Of course, I picked some – we all did – and we took them back to our rooms in college and put them in water in a glass or coffee mug, feeling slightly guilty because we knew you were not supposed to pick wild flowers.

I also remember the delicious feeling of trespassing on railway property – there were “No Tresspassers” signs up –  but we didn’t care. There was no-one about, it was warm and sunny, we needed that break from revision and we felt we could do pretty much anything!

The name Cowslip may originate from cowsdung, as this flower grows in boggy or wet ground. Cow’s dung and the word “slip” offer quite a graphic descriptive name!