The seasons beautys

April so far has been a lovely month, and although there is still a chill in the air, it’s lovely to walk round with bare arms and bare legs and in sandals and shorts. In our little village, the bluebell field is more glorious than ever, I can’t remember seeing it so blue, so very blue, with just a dappling of cowslips and late primroses. My featured photo is from last year, by the way!

It’s poetry month, so more from John Clare’s Shepherd’s Calendar:

The seasons beautys all are thine
That visit with the year
Beautys that poets think divine
And all delight to hear
Thy latter days a pleasure brings
That gladden every heart
Pleasures that come like lovley things
But like to shades depart

Thy opend leaves and ripend buds
The cuckoo makes his choice
And shepherds in thy greening woods
First hears the cheering voice
And to thy ripend blooming bowers
The nightingale belongs
And singing to thy parting hours
Keeps night awake with songs

With thee the swallow dares to come
And primes his sutty wings
And urgd to seek their yearly home
Thy suns the Martin brings
And lovley month be leisure mine
Thy yearly mate to be
Tho may day scenes may brighter shine
Their birth belongs to thee

A tale of spring

We’ve had such a lovely day, it really seems spring is with us! here are some lines from John Clare, the Shepherds Calendar for March:

March month of ‘many weathers’ wildly comes

And where the stunt bank fronts the southern sky
By lanes or brooks where sunbeams love to lye
A cowslip peep will open faintly coy
Soon seen and gathered by a wandering boy
A tale of spring around the distant haze
Seems muttering pleasures wi the lengthening days
Morn wakens mottled oft wi may day stains
And shower drops hang the grassy sprouting plains
And on the naked thorns of brassy hue
Drip glistning like a summer dream of dew
While from the hill side freshing forest drops
As one might walk upon their thickening tops
And buds wi young hopes promise seemly swells
Where woodman that in wild seclusion dwells
Wi chopping toil the coming spring deceives
Of many dancing shadows flowers and leaves
And in his pathway down the mossy wood
Crushes wi hasty feet full many a bud

Spring is well and truly here

Of all the spring flowers, I live primroses best; they are such a delicate shade of pale yellow and yet they aren’t wishy-washy or uninteresting. The name comes not from them being ‘prim’ or shy, but from prima rosa, being among the first spring flowers (yes I know snowdrops and crocuses and daffodils sometimes come out before them, and I know they are not actually members of the rose family)

What I had forgotten and only remembered when I was trying to find out more about primroses is that April 19th is Primrose Day, commemorating the death of Benjamin Disraeli. They were his favourite flowers and Queen Victoria used to send him bunches of them. What I didn’t know was that the primrose is the county flower of Devon.

KENT 2015 (100)Primroses growing on the sides of the motte at Tonbridge Castle

As a child I remember an old lady selling violets on Petty Cury in Cambridge. I don’t know what she sat on, but she sat in a doorway in long all enveloping clothes, with wraps round her shoulder and an old hat on her head. She had a basket of flowers and would call out “vi’lets, lovely vi’lets“. When my dad was first going out with my mum they worked at the same place; she was a clerical officer, he was a scientist. he would buy a bunch of violets from the flower lady of Petty Cury; my mum would be busy working, head bent over her typewriter and suddenly a bunch of violets would land on the keys… how romantic!

KENT 2015 (104)Violets also grow on Tonbridge Castle motte

The Donkey Field

In our village of Uphill we have a meadow which you pass as you enter the village; it’s called the Donkey Field, because donkeys used to graze there, but it is also called the Bluebell Field, and the reason is obvious! The meadow is now managed by the Woodland trust, a charity which cares for trees, woodlands and forests. Occasionally there are a few cattle put in there to graze, and sometimes a few sheep, to ‘manage’ the grass ad keep the brambles and docks at bay.

In the spring there is a procession of flowers blooming, first the snowdrops, then the primroses and crocuses, then the daffodils, and now it is the bluebells and cowslips. As I photographed it today I was struck by the number of wild flowers I could see, just in a brief survey; daisies, buttercups, dandelions, errant primulas, whitebells as well as the blue, wild geraniums, cow parsley, celandines… and they were just the ones I was able to see and identify.

DSCF6651 A carpet of bluebellsDSCF6658 The old railings keep everyone out so all canenjoy!DSCF6632 Cowslips smell divineDSCF6638

Primroses on a dull day


We actually have a cheerful show of primroses in the back garden… what has happened to the seasons? Primroses in January? I don’t mind though, I just love primroses, they cheerful little pale faces with a dab of  orange in the centre… they are best seen growing wild on grassy banks or is sunlit spring woods, but I love mine in my garden, growing among the raspberry canes.

Aislin in ‘Loving Judah’ is cheered by the sight of them:

Aislin sat for a long time, utterly desolate, utterly lost. It was as if she’d been shipwrecked without ever having realised she was at sea. She wandered out into the garden. It was a bright day, a lovely day and she looked at the space she and Sandi had cleared; as soon as it was dry enough she would make a bonfire of the cuttings.

She thought at first it was a piece of waste paper, litter blown into the garden. She stepped over the rough ground, and there, beneath the beech hedge gone mad, was a mound of pale primroses. Just beyond, bobbing slightly in the breeze was a patch of snow drops, so pure, so bright, so cheerful.Well dammit, if they could be so cheerful in this neglected wilderness, so could she.


Motorway flora


Motorways have become a wildlife haven; yes there is roadkill, and yes, on a summer’s day the windscreen is a mess of dead insects, but the banks beyond the hard shoulders are often a glorious displays of colour.

You can see primroses and cowslips in the spring, bluebells if you know where to look in May, and then a tumult of colour in summer, crimson and scarlet poppies, blue cornflowers, pink rosebay willowherb, yellow St John’s wort, purple loostrife, creamy meadowsweet, purple thistles, red, white and pink valerian, buttercups and daisies…