Spring Form

Nature has many ingenious ways of designing a flower. I thought I would share three flowers that have caught my eye this week.

  1. Dingle-dangles

I’m sorry, but this is just the word that pops into my head every time I see these long, pendulous catkins.


dingledangle definition: Adjective. (obsolete) Hanging loose; swinging backwards and forwards.

Our cobnut has never had so many catkins. They are jiggling in the breeze.

Corylus avellana (cobnut) catkins


Cobnuts are a cultivated variety of hazel. Eaten fresh, they are sweeter than a hazelnut. They have a slight coconut flavour. As they ripen they get sweeter and juicier. But we wouldn’t know, because of the wretched squiggles.

Corylus avellana (cobnut) catkins

Since December these catkins have been giving me delight. You can see them in their unripe form in the post ‘Pops and Neutrals‘, when they looked like honeycomb. Then in their joyous golden prime in ‘Fresh Minty Green‘.

The catkins have now opened up and released their clouds of pollen. Catkins are the male flower. Hazel and cobnuts rely wind-pollination, and so have to release masses of pollen in the hope that some of it lands on the female flowers of neighbouring trees.

Corylus avellana (cobnut)

At the top of each catkin, where it attaches to the branch, you can see the tiny little red star of the female flower. (I love this photo with the blue sky and orange of the blurry catkins behind).

Corylus avellana (cobnut)

It may be tiny, but the bright red burst is radiant in the sunlight. At the base of the flower is the ovary. This will turn into the cobnut if the flower is fertilised.

Corylus avellana (cobnut)

2. Simplicity Itself

The primrose’s name means ‘first rose’. Like species roses, primroses have five petals, with the reproductive organs at the centre of the flower. The deeper colour at the centre (which is seen in many simple flowers) is there to show the pollinating insects where the booty is.

Primula vulgaris (primrose)

It is a simple design, and it works.

Primula vulgaris (primrose) and a bee

Because primroses are insect-pollinated, they also produce a lovely scent to signal their ripeness.

A bee on a primrose

I love the simplicity of a primrose. Each petal is heart-shaped. Each flower occupies its own space, not encroaching on anyone else.

Primula vulgaris (primrose)

They might be small and simple, but they are true to themselves. They wouldn’t want to be any other way.

Primula vulgaris (primrose)

3. A Little Work of Art

If the primrose is simple, the Dwarf iris is anything but.

First let’s look at them from this angle:

Iris reticulata (netted iris, or dwarf iris)

And then from this:

Iris reticulata (netted iris, or dwarf iris) seen from above.

Even their buds are miniature paintings. On the outside of the petal they have a distinct green tinge, which is fabulous with the purple.

Iris reticulata (netted iris, or dwarf iris) in bud.

Then they open out and there is some sort of dragon face on each petal.

Iris reticulata (netted iris, or dwarf iris)

It is the form of this flower that I so admire. It is like a little sculpture. The angle of each petal, and the space between, is just perfect. It should be no other way.

Iris reticulata (netted iris, or dwarf iris)

It also has a certain cheekiness, as if it is blowing a raspberry.

Iris reticulata (netted iris, or dwarf iris)

These are the three flowers that have given me most delight in the garden this week. Each is perfectly itself. Each occupies its space. Each has its own dignity.

How about you? Do you have a favourite spring form?

The Mindful Gardener likes to notice the little things in life. If your life is a bit of a whirl, you might like to take five minutes twice a week to sit down and enjoy some simple pleasure. I try to share with you what is good in the garden right now.

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Thank you for reading!


33 Comments Add yours

  1. Thank you for sharing! Where I am, there is still snow on the ground so no blossoms dare peek out quite yet. Perhaps that is why I love the pussywillows – they refuse to be denied and come out anyway, in late February.

    1. The pussy willow is gorgeous, isn’t it? Ours has only just burst; it is being joined by the other willows and elder, and few patches of blackthorn.

  2. I liked the way you showed the green tinge contrasting with the purple on the Iris.

    1. It is a gorgeous green, isn’t it? I love these little details that are easy to miss.

  3. Such beautiful examples of spring. I love the dwarf iris, a wonderful pop of vivid color. I cannot wait for the snow to melt here so I can see the gardens again.

    1. I hope you get mild weather soon! It is lovely and sunny here today, but very blustery. I really don’t like wind!

  4. Ann Mackay says:

    Made me smile this morning – first at the squiggles (sounds like a great description of a squirrel in motion) and then at the idea that the flowers in my garden might just be blowing raspberries at me, hehe! 🙂

    1. Squiggles just seems to suit the movement, doesn’t it? We have one squirrel without a tail, though. He is a squig.

      1. Ann Mackay says:

        Love your use of ‘squig’ – made me happy, hehe! (Language can be such fun! 🙂 )

  5. bcparkison says:

    I do need a primrose or two. They are just so clean and ‘prim’ looking.

    1. They suit their name, don’t they? You are right, they are the most pristine of flowers.

  6. At this point, with heavy snow still on the ground, I’m dying to see my crocuses that had just begun to poke through before getting smothered. And the birch catkins are nowhere to be seen. Thank you for giving me hope!

    1. Aw, they should be safe, snuggled under the snow!

  7. Interestingly I hadn’t a clue what ‘coryllus avellana’ was until about 10 days ago. We have a new building going up at work and the first part of the landscaping has just been completed and the trees they’ve planted are all cobnuts it turns out!!

    1. Oh, how lovely! They give year-round interest.

  8. Heyjude says:

    I must buy some of the common primroses, they are so lovely and much nicer than the flamboyant primulas you find in the garden centres.

  9. Emma Cownie says:

    I went for a walk with my book on trees in hand recently to find out what sort of tree produces catkins, I should have waited for your excellent blog post as you explained it all so well!

    1. I am glad you enjoyed it, Emma.

  10. I am continually amazed at your plant knowledge, and I always learn a lot from your post. My favorite spring flower are cherry blossom trees. I feel so much joy when those trees bloom.

    1. They are gorgeous, aren’t they? I tried to photograph some today, but it was too windy.

  11. The rusty orange of your cobnut catkins is quite stunning against the blue sky.

    1. They were quite lovely, weren’t they? They have now fallen off! Poor dingle-dangles. But the leaves are on their way…

  12. Cathy says:

    Why on earth is dingle-dangle considered an obsolete word?! 🤔

    1. It will never be obsolete to me! 🙂

      1. Cathy says:

        Me neither – there are scarecrows as well as catkins of course…. 😉

  13. Lovely post Ali 🙂

    The common primrose self seeds to the extent of being a weed in our garden. Susan is forever removing them despite my wishes that they be left alone!

    1. Yes, they self-seed nicely, don’t they? I would be happy to fill the world with primroses!

  14. So what’s “wrong” with dingle-dangle? Nothing. I call them dinglies altho’ they dangle, not dingle.

  15. Chloris says:

    The catkins have been wonderful this year. I love the irises but the primrose is the flower of March. They grow in all the ditches round here and make cycling such a joy. But not this week though. The endless wind is a bit of a challenge

    1. Primroses are utter perfection, aren’t they? Especially in a ditch! Yes, I can imagine cycling has been a challenge! Walking in a straight line has been a challenge!

  16. I love primroses, so gentle and delicate. They remind me of my childhood.

    1. Yes; they are a really evocative flower, aren’t they? They go with Cadbury mini eggs for me.

      1. Oh dont talk to me about those. I ate a whole bag on the way home the other day🙄

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