It is May Day today, and in celebration, the sky decided to dress itself in blue. It goes rather well with the green of lush growth at this time of year.
We agreed to say nothing more about the wind and rain yesterday. Forgive and forget.
There was a light frost, and I had fearful text message from Stevie on his train asking me to check the tomato plants in the greenhouse in case they were done for. They weren’t, and neither was the walnut, whose buds were hit hard last year by a late frost.
Having swapped work days around this week, I was looking forward to a morning walk to see what was happening down the lane. For the past few days I have been aware of a creeping presence. Excited whisperings, a giggle here and there, a bubbling of uncontrollable energy, that just wants to burst out…
And then I spotted it:
Cow Parsley. One half of the May double-act. Cow Parsley is the fizz to Hawthorn’s froth. Here it is is closer:
As delicate as champagne bubbles. So where was the other one?
Here, but not quite ripe. Hawthorn blossom is also known as ‘May’. Usually it flowers in April for us, showing just how late this spring is. I whispered to it as I walked past “it’s May you know. You can open now.”
Common ivy is putting on lots of new growth. Ivy is much misunderstood. It often clothes tall trees, doing no harm, but providing evergreen cover for insects, birds and small mammals, as well as being a food source with its nectar, pollen and berries in winter.
The pussy willows (Salix caprea) are leafing up nicely, with their silvery shimmer.
The catkins have gone all spiky, not so tempting to stroke.
You may already know from my post The Greening that I have a bit of thing for oak trees. It always interests me how oak trees vary in their bursting of leaf-buds. Some trees are consistently early and some are consistently late. Presumably this is genetic variation. I think that these are all Penduculate Oak (Quercus robur), the leaves having no stem, whereas our other native Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea) has stalked leaves.
Some were like this, still tightly curled and red, and a little bit angry-looking:
Some had taken the plunge, but were still unsure:
Others had decided it wasn’t so bad, and actually that bit of sun was quite nice:
These were the earlier adopters, looking completely at ease:
Do you want to see the full effect? The GREEN?
Even the clouds are dazzled and are standing back to admire it. You see why I love the oak tree’s GREEN? Here’s how it stands out along the lane:
Field Maple (Acer campestre) is a lighter, brighter acid green, because of its rather lovely flowers.
Our lane has been getting more traffic of late, owing to a new housing development and cars being re-routed, so I had to dive into a ditch at this point. Which did allow me to appreciate the fine top of a hedge. This is field maple again, but cut as a part of a mixed native hedge.
(I rather like the horizontals on this photo, with the line of the hedge, the trees along the horizon, and the flat layers of cloud. What do you think, Rupali?) It also reminds me of a similar photo I took back in January, Making the most of the morning commute).
These shoots remind me of rubber gloves draped over the tap to dry.
Whilst I was there, balancing on one leg, trying not to trample a bluebell, here is what I found: The May!
Isn’t it lovely?
I also found this curious specimen:
It was dangling over the hedge. There were four or five tendrils like this. It would have helped if I had found some foliage to photograph, but I didn’t. Our native hedgerow climbers include Old Man’s Beard (Clematis vitalba), Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) and Hops (Humulus lupulus). I don’t think it is any of these. Anyone?
POSTSCRIP: It’s bindweed! Which could have been easily recognised by loveheart leaves if I had been just a little more thorough in my investigation!
And yes, I did mention bluebells. There were more in a little glade at the end of the lane.
Many of you will know that our native English bluebell is under threat from the Spanish Bluebell, which hybridises with the English bluebell to produce Hyacinthoides x massartiana, a vigorous superbreed, which then out-competes the English Bluebell. Whilst the hybrid is quite nice, it lacks the delicate charm of the English Bluebell. The English Bluebell arches over, holding its flowers on one side of the stem, and they dance in the breeze in a delightful way. The hybrid is upright, taller, broader, and holds the slightly broader flowers all around the stem.
I have been on a mission to eradicate the Spanish Bluebell from my garden. We inherited several clumps, which have devilishly deep roots, and if you leave even a tiny bit of bulb, it will sprout afresh next year. I thought I’d finally vanquished it last year, but lo-and-behold I found three clumps last week, which I had to excavate. The disposal method has to be carefully planned: put it in the compost or the household waste bin and it will escape. The only solution is to burn it or incinerate it in the oven (warning household members first).
Having enjoyed the dreamy deep purple for a suitable length of time, I turned back, with a skip in my step. Facing this way, I could enjoy one of my favourite oaks:
Here it is, closer:
Over the bridge, as I neared our drive, I stopped in my tracks. Is it? Noooo!!!
This is at our neighbour’s gatepost. Do I mention it and risk looking insane? Our neighbours are lovely. If we leave this colony, the English Bluebells all along the lane are at risk…
Thank goodness for the hawthorn, which calmed me, as I went up the drive. I nibbled a bit, as it is also known as ‘Bread and Cheese’. It wasn’t terribly nice.
I love the patchwork of species in a mixed hedge. Hawthorn blends into dogwood (Cornus sanguinea)…
Into Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)...
And more Field Maple. Its perfect layers of leaves reminds me of applique.
It is perhaps this stitching together that makes the hedgerows so verdant in May. One species grows into another, overlapping, cannoodling. And (mostly) they all get along.
What is looking verdant near you? Can you identify my mystery vine? Do you have any invasive species that give you the collywobbles?