January Ramblings

Out and about on one of my usual meanders around the local footpaths yesterday, I took a number of photographs to record what is available at the moment.   We’ve got all sorts of spring delights cropping up at the moment – some a little early, some exactly on time as it is, after all, Imbolc in about a week’s time!

Tender shoots of Lords-and Ladies (Arum maculatum). A little early there, girls...
Hmm... yep, it's still winter...

You’d think that would be obvious given the amount of mud underfoot.  Work in the veg patch has all but ground to a halt again after several heavy frosts and a lot of rain as the ground has turned into a quagmire!

Lesser Nettle (Urtica urens). This little beauty differs from our standard Nettle (U. dioica) - take a look at the leaf shape. It is much more toothed than U. dioica, and grows in a much lower, more compact shape.

Interestingly, this particular clump of nettle was growing on the edge of a field.   We had another clump twice the size in the veg patch as well before I dug the plot area over – which is interesting, because the larger Nettle isn’t putting in an appearance here yet, but I’ve spotted several groups of lesser Nettle kicking around here and there.  Incidentally, I don’t recommend picking herbs from field margins unless you know the crops planted there are organic – you never know what nasty stuff will have got onto the herbs from the crops.

A slightly bedraggled looking daisy (Bellis perennis). These little sweethearts flower pretty much all year round near us, except, of course, when there's snow on the ground.
'Secret as the thorns of roses, and winter sharp' - Charles de Lint. In this particular case, we're talking about the elegantly curved thorns of the dog rose (Rosa canina)

Rose is one of my favourite herbs – the wild variety rather than the cultivated ones, for the most part.  I love the fact that they are a combination of beauty, resilience and down right short temperedness, as anyone who has been on the receiving end of those thorns whilst gathering hips or flowers can probably attest!

Ivy berries (Hedera helix) - when they're this colour they yield a rather lovely spring green dye. Pick handfuls of 'em and boil 'em up in plenty of water - be careful though, as they are poisonous!
...aaand another poisonous one, winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) Malice indeed, being deadly poisonous...
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) - flowering all through the village at the moment in drifts of white against green grass and a lot of mud...
I love the quality of the light at this time of year, so very clear and pure, especially as the sun starts to set!

All in all, we have a surprising amount of stuck poking its head through this year, which seems a little early to me, but then we had a very harsh winter last year which meant that everything was delayed by several weeks.   I’m trying not to shake my head and bemoan the lack of proper seasonal delineations – nature never works so simply, and a month that is spring this year might well still be winter next – this is not always due to global warmings.  Often it is simply the natural ebb and flow of things.

1 Comment

  1. Not had chance to go for a walk this weekend, so thanks for sharing yours Ali 🙂 Simon is working on his uni coursework which means that we’re grounded most weekends from now until May eeek! I actually bought 2 plants of Winter Aconite a few weeks ago, yes she’s poisonous but what a lovely perfume she throws out when all around you seems bereft of scent.

    Noticed in the garden today as I wandered through on route to the greenhouse that one of my daphne’s is in flower and she smells wonderful, the witchhazel is just teasingly showing her blooms and the sorrel and chives are starting to poke through as well as tulip and daffs. Wasn’t brave enough to go look at the side patch as it was too cold. I suspect all the plants will wish they’d stayed under the seasonal duvet though soon, we apparently have snow on the way! Totally agree re the ebb and flow, although I think that our seasons are naturally slipping through the months so we end up with winter in summer etc 🙂

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