Category Archives: Spring

It’s a lovely day… and I feel soooo virtuous!

…and what better to do on a lovely day than finish clearing out the greenhouse, and get those seeds in?

On Monday I went into the greenhouse cum log store and realised that my scented geraniums were beginning to flower, and not just the scented ones either:

geranium

Ideally, they’d be going out about now but we’re still having some very cold nights and the wind can be sneakily chilly, so they’re staying in for the moment.

But it is time to get on with the planting – and I’d already excavated the shed which made me feel virtuous, spiritually cleansed and a little bit nauseous (mummified mouse, flat mummified mouse, I must have put something down on top of it at some point). My shed isn’t really a shed as such, mind. It was once the outside lav, though happily the hole has been filled in and there’s no seat to take up space. It makes an ideal garden store - or will until the roof collapses under the weight of Old Man’s Beard which rampages across it each year. Er, except for the fact that it’s not exactly mouse-proof.

Ahem.

Inspired by the Great Shed Clearing of Fate I decided to do the same thing to the greenhouse, and about time. It was fine enough for everything to be taken out, at last. All the old leaves were removed from the geraniums, all the old bits of bark were removed from the floor, all the old manky bits of string and other rubbish were retrieved, assessed for recycling possibilities and then thrown out. I was exhausted, but revived after coffee and planted tray after tray of climbing beans – Abundance, Cosse Violette, Cherokee Trail of Tears, Neckar Gold -  as well as mangetout (yellow podded ones, sound good), squashes (Crown Prince) and some wallflowers for next year.

greenhouse 2

The tomatoes (Gardener’s Delight), salvias (Blue Angel), parsley and dill are already doing well, even though they’re going on nightly trips back into the house. As is the radio…

Then, then, after MORE coffee, I got the broad beans out. They were desperate, poor things; they’ve been well hardened off now in the cold frame (lid up), so I thought they’d be fine. They certainly got through last night OK, so I’m sure they’ll survive. I’m not quite sure, however, why I grew quite so many:

broad beans

I like broad beans, which is probably just as well as I’ve got 29 plants. And if you grow your own you can get them at the sweet and tender stage. In fact, my mouth is watering as I think of baby spinach and bacon salad, dotted with broad beans; broad bean paté on home-made bread, baby broad beans in an omelette… that’s the trouble with me, I tend to forget about all the cultivating in between. Perhaps I was inspired by the thought of the Great British Allotment Bee Bake-Off Challenge Thing, which starts on BBC2 tonight. I’ll give it a go, but I’m not sure it has the same appeal as cakes or fabric.

I just had to share some shots of all my hard work. Click on one for a mini slideshow and gasp in amazement at all the space on those shelves – room for more stuff! (No shots of ex-mice, BTW.)

Given that it’s probably three years since I cleared out the shed (due to illness/injury), you can understand why I’m so chuffed. Even if it did lead to the Rodent Unpleasantness which is now in the brown – compostable stuff – bin. Well, it is compostable.

Wonderful wallflowers!

I’ve finally done it. Every year I forget to buy wallflowers in autumn, or I buy them and they’re disappointing - I am on acid soil, after all - or I buy them, forget what they are, and weed them out (ahem). A few years ago I bought some seeds and planted them carefully, snug in sectioned seed trays. They sat about not doing a lot and I kept forgetting they were there. But they thrived. So the autumn before last I planted them out, thinking I would have a lovely display come the spring.

Nah.

I nearly, nearly rooted them up. But something stopped me, and I’m so glad it did. I walked round the corner in February, and this is what I saw:

wallflower1

They’d suddenly decided to flower. And what is more, they’d suddenly decided to smell. No, that word’s evocative of pigsties and adolescent boys’ trainers. They scented the air for metres around. And they’ve gone on, and on, and on.

wallflowers 2

They shouldn’t be doing this – acid soil, remember? I can only assume that the bed in which I planted them – below the gable end of the house – isn’t as acid as the rest of the garden, possibly as a consequence of repointing the gable end ten years ago. I’d not tested it, but I will do so now, because if it is a bit more alkaline there are other plants which might flourish. Apart from the ******* Geranium macrorrhizum album and the lemon balm, that is. And always supposing I can shoehorn something else in beside those thugs (yes, I could move them, and yes, I have tried). It would have to be yellows, pinks, oranges – the wallflowers are bang on for the later colours of this bed. Er, apart from the hollyhocks which are supposed to be black. The first one flowered pink, so maybe the others will fit in too.

But for the moment, I’m enjoying the wallflowers.

wallflowers 3

They are proving surprisingly tough little bs, as well. They were blasted by the storms – they are slap bang in the line of fire, on a direct route between the sea and the hills, sitting just where the wind is funnelled down the side of the house. Many of the leaves shrivelled or went brown at the tips and edges, but they shrugged that off: fine now, thanks.

My one regret is that I didn’t plant more, but I’m rectifying that for next year – and, of course, I’m hoping that these will self-seed. Of course there’s a risk that they’ll revert to yellow, but I don’t mind that: it’s such a rich, generous yellow. Really lifts the heart and brightens up a gloomy day.

wallflowers 5

And then there’s the scent. It’s extraordinarily strong – I could smell it in the greenhouse the other day even though the wind was in the opposite direction, and that’s well away from the wallflowers. But I think the real reason why I love them is the memories they evoke. I remember them growing out of the top of a farmyard wall in France, where they fascinated me; my pockets were always full of popping seedheads and my mother used to complain endlessly about them getting everywhere when she took my coat off. And they grew under my window at college – not such a positive memory, that one, as it always meant the run towards exams and the scary realisation that I’d spent too much time in the bar and far too little in the library.

And, of course, they are such a fabulous splash of colour early in the season.

wallflower strip

Looking at this shot I think I may have another key to why they’ve done well: unconsciously, I seem to have recreated some of the conditions present in those farm walls. Very dry. I know the languages are similar – Breton and Welsh are the same branch of Celtic, along with Cornish – and perhaps the underlying geology is too. I must look it up (anything to stop me from continuing to muck out the garden stores – pigsty next, home of the biggest ant nest in Christendom).

Wonder if I can remember what this blend was called? Wonder if I kept a record? Hm – think I know the answer to that one, but perhaps searching would delay the cleaning up even more…

A followed tree gathers no whatsits

Sorry about the title, I’ve not had enough coffee yet. And I’m trying WordPress’s sort-of backtrack on image editing, so let’s see if it works…

As part of Loose and Leafy‘s tree-watching meme, I’ve been watching the smallest of my three birches, the one I usually walk past, the one that is (literally) overshadowed by its bigger cousins. Predictably, things are happening. Last month the leaf buds were showing not a hint of anything other than tightly folded covers; there were catkins, but they were short and stubby. First, the leaves began to peek out of the buds, starting a few days ago, and the catkins began to bend down…

starting...

and then the leaves suddenly unfolded completely, like so many bright green butterflies emerging, but it wasn’t just the leaves. There were flowers too:

more...

In case, like me, you’ve not studied a birch tree this closely before, the two green spiky things are the flowers. I’m not using any of my gardening books; just my Collins’ Tree Guide, and I am learning quite a bit. I thought I knew trees. Hm…

Last evening the weather suddenly improved (it’s gone off again now), and the sun on the leaves made me realise just how much leaf the tree has put on.

sunny leaves

I’m afraid, however, that where the leaves come the catkins cannot be far behind. In preparation I have checked my asthsma puffers and got them up to date, because as I looked up and saw this,

eeek for asthsma

I realised I didn’t have long. Usually I’m OK – meadowsweet doesn’t grow much round here and that really brings on the wheezing – but there’s always that feeling of suspense. Especially as friends around me collapse in heaps. Birches are supposed to protect people from problems, not cause them.

I’m hoping I escape again this year, so that I can continue to enjoy the astonishing green of the baby birch leaves without pretending I’m on the Tokyo subway…

sweet leaf

(My iPhoto library is already packed with about 50,000 shots of leaves. I really must do some editing – but maybe what I really want, as a fibre person, is some fluff or wool in this colour. I wish I could achieve it with natural dyes, but I can’t. Khaki, I can do; bright, vibrant, fresh green I might actually want to wear – nah.)

This project is proving really interesting, making me shift my point of view. Normally at this time of year I concentrate on the meadow beneath the trees. Yes, I stop to appreciate the splendid green of the leaves, but it’s the daffodils, the primroses, the anemones, the fritillaries, the oxlips and cowslips which grab my attention more. Naturally I’m still admiring them, but flowers are show-offs – what was it someone said, Withnail‘s Uncle Monty I think, that flowers were just tarts for the bees?

long shot tree

My trees are no longer a backdrop. I am so glad that something is making me look up – and, after all, birches have flowers too.

Thanks to Loose and Leafy for hosting this meme.

Wordless(ish) Wednesday

WordPress are messing with the image formatting at the moment, so I’ll just hold on a post with more text and celebrate the arrival of spring (yippee!)

First, the chionodoxas are just going over a bit:

chionodoxas

Really they are. They were better; they seem to have been enjoying the fact that the rowan was lost in the winter storms.

But that doesn’t matter because the fritillaries are starting:

frits 1

Now all I have to do is ensure that the Mad Dog of Dyffryn - actually Harlech, but couldn’t think of suitable alliteration other than the Horrible Hound of Harlech, and she isn’t horrible, she’s just young - doesn’t eat these too (ten daffodils met their end the day before yesterday). Or bounce on them. Or try and water them:

woof

Hmm. Am rethinking my advice to P that he should get another dog.

Gardeners are mad

Oh yes we are. Quite clearly bonkers – because today was our garden club’s spring show, and I was out in the garden in wooly hat, quilted jacket, thick socks, jim-jams and light snow at 7.30 this morning. Before breakfast. Before even a cup of tea. The primroses I picked last evening, you see, weren’t quite perfect after their night in the house, so they had to be replaced.

competition prims

And, as I learned from talking to other exhibitors, I was not alone (well, I was in one sense – fortunately the neighbours were still in bed, otherwise the men in the white coats would have been summoned). But I was not alone amongst garden club members; at least two other people had been doing the dawn patrol in sleet. Think Fargo, with daffodils.

Oh, all right, I’m exaggerating the snowiness – but the sudden chill was enough to chap my poor amaryllis in the short journeys between house and car and car and hall. Even though I did try and protect it. When I got it into place I was rather embarrassed to see it had a Big Brother. I told it not to look but it did, and then it too sat there looking rather embarrassed which it continued to do throughout, especially when BB inevitably came first in the group:

poor waif

I was one of two stewards, which I found absolutely fascinating. Listening to the judge’s comments taught me an enormous amount, not least about the importance of removing anything that isn’t absolutely perfect. I think I’d have have been placed in the tulips if I’d removed the two leaves that were a bit damaged, though of course I kept my mouth shut at the time (and resisted the impulse to distract the judge and pull them off).

As it was, I got a couple of firsts, one for my small cup daffodils. My Poet’s Eye narcissus surprised me enormously by suddenly flowering, even if I did have to bring one of the blooms out by putting the vase by the wood burner last night.

poet's eye

Also warmed by the stove were my multi-flowered daffs, and I got a first there too – plus a third for another small cup. No joy anywhere else – even with the second attempt at finding the perfect primrose – but I was pleased. The standard is very high, particularly with the hellebores and camellias, and I was very lucky last year to get a second in the camellias. In fact the standard was so high this year that two judges worked together to establish the winners.

It was a great spring show, in short, despite the vagaries of the weather. Here’s a montage, starting with my own preparations – just click on an image for a slideshow.

 

Following trees

I’ve been meaning to join in with Loose and Leafy and follow a tree for a year, but I’ve been prompted to actually do it by Janet at Plantalicious (hawthorn) and particularly Elizabeth from Welsh Hills Again, who is documenting a year in the life of a rowan. I lost mine in the January storms, and I did love it dearly – but her post pushed me into taking a good look at some of the other trees in my garden. Which to choose? It has to be something that sustains interest, as the idea is to post about it once a month, around the 7th, thus documenting the way it grows and changes. Fruit trees would be obvious but – for me, anyway – kind of not the point (plus my fruit trees do not bear looking at closely).

So I took a walk round, and decided to concentrate on one of my three birches – predictable; I’ve rhapsodised about them before. Incidentally, I’m amazed at how the three birches sailed through the winter storms without turning a hair. But this time I want to look at the least assertive of the trio, the one which tends to get overlooked,

birches

the one in the foreground here.

It’s also the smallest, which means I can get its whole height into shot without climbing the walls or leaving the country. Just.

baby birch

I won it. Well, I’d have won it whatever I did.

Let me explain – it was a competition at the library: borrow enough books, answer a simple question and win a tree seedling. I entered, but so did fewer people than trees available, so we all got one (and I suspect some people got two). At that time, about eight years ago, it was roughly three feet tall. And I’ve no idea what birch it is – any guesses? It’s got gorgeous orange bark,

bark

but it becomes paler as it gets older, with the newer branches being quite bright and the trunk beginning to mellow to a runny honey colour in places. It could be a form of paper birch, which I guess would tie in to it being a prize from the library. I don’t particularly care – I love it anyway…

The very newest branches are grey and soft and fuzzy, which shows best against the light.

baby branches

There are plenty of buds but – despite the lovely warm weather – no sign of any leaf action quite yet. There are, however, masses of rather perky catkins:

catkins

I’ve never really examined the scaly nature of birch catkins at this stage before… birches, of course, are wind pollinated, and there tens to be quite a lot of pollen when they do go ping, but happily it never seems to trigger my hay fever.

Taking such a close look at this tree is something I hardly ever do, and it will be interesting to follow the its development and change over the year. I do take it for granted – it’s got neither the ridiculous height nor the shimmering bark of its compatriots – and it will be so good to give it the attention it deserves. And it’s set in the middle of the meadow (with a nicely cleared circle around its base; wonder how long that will last), so it will be good to lift my eyes upwards as well as concentrating on the exciting things happening at ground level.

birch in meadow

Maybe it’s not so surprising that the birches survived the storms. Their flexibility (in all sorts of ways) has served them well – the oldest known Betula fossils go back to the time of the dinosaurs, just, the Upper Cretaceous. They were probably most diverse about 45 million years ago but they’re not doing badly at present, quite at home in a huge range of habitats. And in my garden. It will be interesting to learn more about them, as well as appreciating this particular – baby – example as the year goes on. And it will also be interesting fighting my way through the meadow towards it as the grasses grow up… and up…

Arrival of the Big Yellow Thing

It could be daffodils, but it isn’t. SUN!

Yup, we’ve had sun. It’s even been quite warm. Ish. As long as you kept out of the wind. And the garden has basked in it. So, almost (ho, ho, it’s impossible) Wordlessly for Wednesday, here are some sunbathers:

chionodoxa

1. The chionodoxas, which I adore. They’re not all out yet – every day I see more small blue spikes sticking up out of the grass – but the ones that are blooming are loving the weather. And, incidentally, the absence of the rowan tree which used to be above them. Hm.

pulmonaria

2. The pulmonarias would look a lot better if they weren’t flowering n top of a great mound of salt- and wind-blasted leaves. But hey.

snowdrops

3. It’s not been a great year for the snowdrops; they were just reaching their best when the storms hit and blasted them to ******. But some have recovered, and some are late anyway. The rest will have another stab at it next year.

prims

4. And it’s definitely spring because the primroses are coming out. Again, some got blasted (what didn’t?) but happily most were still below ground. Lots more to come, but it’s looking promising.

wallflowers

5. The wallflowers (brown and shrivelled leaves on one side only) are amazingly scented, as well as being beautiful. I nearly ripped these out last year as they had failed to flower for three years running. So glad I lost the impulse to tidy up before I committed wallflowericide.

of course

6. Crocuses. My river of crocuses below the cherry in the bottom garden is migrating northwards into the newest bed behind the Capel, and the ones I planted about three, maybe four, years ago under the apple trees have decided to reappear in bulk. Crocuses just love this garden. They even cope with the winds. Good!

I weeded this

7. Weeds. Yup, they’re back in force – but when they’re as cute as daisies, I have to forgive them a bit. And I do tend to take daisies for granted; they’re lovely things really. OK, not in the iris bed – but I don’t mind them on the paths. And if I minded them in the lawns I’d be mad as a mad thing by now. There’s a weak point in that argument somewhere…

saxifrage

8. Looking forwards – there are buds on all sorts of things, from this little saxifrage to the magnolia, and lots of tender new leaves. No more storms, please…

Goodbye sun -

sunset

and do come back soon!

A daffodil is for life, not just for St David’s Day

Daffodils.

It has to be, really. And at least this year I have the appropriate flowers out in time, and in some quantity (though I’ve only picked 29 so far – many more to be added to the count before May comes round and ‘production’ dribbles away to nothing).

Cennin Pedr – aka Peter’s Leeks:

Daff1

How did St Peter get in on the act? I’ve been trying to find out. So far I’ve come up with diddley-squat, but I have flushed someone who knows daffodils as cennin aur – golden leeks.  In England they’ve also been known as Lent Lillies, Lenten Lillies and Easter Lillies, as well as any number of more local names. I tend to stick with daffs.

I’ve always loved them. I’m not a huge fan of cut flowers, preferring them growing in the garden to dying in a vase (it’s the way I was brought up), but I do try and have a vase of daffs on the go during the season.

daffs2

Generally I pick the vulnerable ones, the ones which have bent their heads earthwards and which will either be splattered into the ground by rain or eaten by slugs if I don’t get there first. Fortunately I have so many that there is usually no shortage of these, despite dividing and replanting clumps every year.

daff3

They’re not quite this lavish yet (I must admit that this is a cheaty shot from last year), but they’ll get there soon. In spite of all the insanity of recent weather – ‘blow winds … blow / You cataracts and hurricanes, spout / Till you have drenched our steeples…’, and they flipping did, garden resembles a blasted heath, kept expecting ex-King Lear and Edgar to come into view for much of February – the prospects look good.

And even the primroses and the chionodoxas and the anemones and the beginnings of the fritillaries (shh, mentioning them might frighten them away) are starting to show themselves in the meadow. But tomorrow, 1 March, belongs to the cennin pedr, the daffodils which will soon turn the top garden yellow and green.

daff backs

For now and possibly for the next month, the garden belongs to the Big Yellows and the Smaller Doubles. Then the White Trumpets kick in, then the miscellaneous Inherited Unidentifiable Oddballs, and then the Poet’s Eyes will round the season off. I’ve a count of over 1500 to beat. And so it goes on, year after year. Wonderful stuff, gardening!

(And I shall be celebrating Gwyl Dewi Sant by going shopping in Chester. I will, of course, be wearing full national costume and carrying a giant leek, a rugby player, three miners, a bara brith and a small dragon. Not.)

Eight months in the meadow

We’ve started, very gradually, strimming parts of the meadow. It’s very early – this is normally a late September job – but there’s been so much growth this year that there’s a hay-disposal problem. So we’re doing a bit at a time; there’s far too much of it to strim, leave a week and mow as we did the past two years. But then we have had a summer this year, so I’m not complaining…

Time for a look back through all my photographs of the meadow this year. I could give it some dignity by calling it an annual review but that’s a bit formal, plus it sounds horribly reminiscent of my working life before self-employment (run away!).

From January,

meadow snow

with a light covering of snow, to today, with a light covering of knackered gardeners.

February sees the snowdrops, and they are clumping up and spreading in a most satisfactory way – just what I hoped for, but have seldom managed to achieve.

snowdrops

Ditto the crocuses, and I am looking forward to seeing how far they get next year.

By March, the daffs were starting – a bit late this year, but they made up for it.

daff start

I know no fear, for I have just ordered another fifty – including some more Poeticus to extend the season. Help, my name is Kate and I’m a daffoholic. A little narcissi-sistic, perhaps? (Sorry.)

By April, of course, the daffs are no longer alone,

daffprims

as the primroses start powering along, beginning with the elegant pale yellows and then going completely brazenly berserk by early May.

Primula ZAP

By this time the fritillaries are also out, though they did suffer this year in the mad cold snap we had at just the wrong time, and in the winds:

horizontal wind

And then, of course, the grasses begin to grow taller, the spring flowers fade and soon greenery takes over.

meadow

And, er, yellery from the buttercups. If that’s not a word, it should be. IMO.

Traces of the paths remain after the meadow gets its autumn number one crop, and we always mow them in the same place. It is becoming clearer and clearer every year that developing the meadow has led to an enormous increase in primroses. They were always good, but there is noticeably less development where paths have been mown. They really do need more undisturbed time to set seed and for that seed to establish itself, than I’d assumed – sounds obvious, but it becomes crystal clear when you see theory working out in practice.

June is when the meadow goes for into Bonkers 2 mode, and this year the grasses were amazing. Taller than me, sometimes.

grasses

And the grasshoppers could be deafening. Good!

But it’s not all greenery. In early June it’s bordered with acqueligias,

bench

and it’s not long before the birdsfoot trefoil

Birdsfoot trefoil

and knapweed make their presence felt. The butterflies love both, and so do I.

Knapweed and BFT

By late July and August the grasses are either generally flat out and soggy, or dry and ready to go. Happily this year it’s the latter option,

dry grass

which may be equally messy but at least is easier to deal with. And we have cut the meadow in rain – not an experience to be repeated.

So what do you do at the height of the tourist season, when travelling anywhere by car becomes an endurance test and it can take over 30 minutes to get through Barmouth (not a big place)? You play in the hot sun with big strimmers, that’s what.

cut

At least we can get at the apple trees easily, and some of the fruit is ready too. The grasshoppers are still singing, so the rest will just have to wait. Probably just as well – where’s the ice cream? Where are the cold beers? Hmmm???

Flowers on the Mawddach Trail

Last week I managed a day out walking along the disused railway track which has become an excellent trail, running along the south side of the Mawddach estuary. I blogged about the walk itself over on Woolwinding – there are woolly connections, honest – but I was entranced by the plants and flowers too. And here’s the place to go on and on and on about them…

Most of the trail is bordered by woods, which finally seem to be catching up; even the ashes are coming properly into leaf. It’s been a peculiar spring all round, and the early parts of the trail in particular were full of hawthorn blossom,

hawthorn

which will now be falling on the path like snow as we have, thankfully, finally had some rain. (I never thought I’d type a phrase like that – oh, please don’t let me have jinxed the whole summer!)

As you’d expect from a walk by the sea, there was plenty of thrift, Armeria maritima:

Thrift

which was particularly impressive all along the seaward end of the walk – as you move further inland there are more reed beds and mud flats, but the first half certainly belongs to the thrift. A couple of years ago I was in Shetland at this time of year, and the thrift was noticeably good there too: this must be its prime period, weird spring or no weird spring.

And the first half also belongs to the rocks,

thrift in setting

and the lichen, some of which made the most extraordinary patterns. Can anyone explain these?

lichen

Oh, I guess it’s just symmetrical growth etc, etc, but the patterns are rather lovely!

Unsurprisingly, there were clumps of sea campion, Silene maritima:

sea campion

I’m a sucker for all the campions, really. It’s always a sign of the start of summer when our hedgerows start turning crimson with red campion; maybe that’s why I love it so much. Hang on, not all campions. My affection for the campions and their relatives doesn’t extend to soapwort (or that feckin’ soapwort, which is how I generally refer to it), which I spend a lot of time trying to eliminate from one corner of the garden. Agh.

Sigh. Back to the Trail, and the ferns which were just unrolling their fronds.

ferns

I love ferns, and it’s just as well, living where I do. Ferns, I can reconcile myself to, like, love and even introduce. Soapwort? Nah… even though the crafty, woolly, side of me says I ought to give it a go for its cleansing properties. No. NO. Sorry. Guess what I’ve been spending the last few days pulling up?

Ahem.

We had plenty of time and so took a detour, following one of the small rivers that join the estuary. Again the path was easy, even though we had left the railway behind us, because the whole estuary had once been devoted to boat building; there were even traces of an old jetty. And more than trace of ramsons, Allium ursinum:

garlic

which I call wild garlic, though I have been corrected by someone who gave that name to what I call field garlic, aka Allium oleraceum. Which is it? Are either of them really wild garlic? Ramsons certainly smell like it, especially in these woods. Just as well I like garlic!

There were many more ferns here,

ferns2

and I became particularly entranced with the contrasting colour of new growth on the trees:

pines

I’m sure I can use this colour combination in knitting!

We returned to the walk, made it to the George III pub where we had tea – no, really; you don’t want beer when you’ve still got a couple of miles to do, well I don’t, anyway; I’d never get going again – and had enough of a break to make continuing a little difficult, beer or no beer. It was towards the end of this last stretch that the foot issue began to rear its ugly head (I do love a mixed metaphor), and we found ourselves beside the river Wnion,

river

bordered by umbellifers and on the far side – must be a garden escape – huge gunneras.

We had actually gone down to the river trying to identify another, more mysterious plant. There were great drifts of it, pink drifts, but a pale pink, not an in-your-face ‘I’m a campion and just deal with it’ pink. Unfortunately most of the drifts were inaccessible and it’s quite hard to identify a plant when you have to look at it through binoculars (at least they stay still, unlike the little bobbing birds – not dippers, something else). But down by the river we could get close:

Pink purslane

Pink purslane, Montia sibirica.

To the best of my recollection, I’ve not seen this before; certainly not in such quantity. According to my battered Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe, it’s ‘scattered’. Maybe it is, in one sense, but not here. Here – admittedly a fairly contained area and in the damp woods it likes – it’s amazingly prolific. And gorgeous!

What a treat: a lovely walk enlivened by beautiful flowers, and one I’ve not spotted before. Is there a botanical equivalent to twitching? If so, I’ve just scored another tick…