Spring Easter Monday April 2011

bluebells

bluebells

cowslips

cowslips

It has been unseasonably warm. We seem to have skipped Spring and gone straight to Summer.

Last Tuesday it was 26 degrees in London. Friday it hit 27 degrees, well ok, 26.9 if you wish to be accurate. Saturday it was 28 degrees at Wisley Gardens just outside Guildford, the hottest April Day since 1948!

We are a month ahead of where we would be. Parts of my garden are overgrown, but would not usually be like this until this time in May.

Peas, broad beans are all shooting up, roses are in bud.

Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) are a woodland plant. First come the primroses, then the bluebells.

In the Spring, bluebell woods are carpeted with bluebells. Bluebell is an indicator species of ancient woodlands. In the United Kingdom the common bluebell is a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Landowners are prohibited from removing common bluebells on their land for sale and it is a criminal offence to remove the bulbs of wild common bluebells. This legislation was strengthened in 1998 under Schedule 8 of the Act making any trade in wild common bluebell bulbs or seeds an offence.

Gerard Manley Hopkins from his poem May Magnificat:

And azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes

Up until the 1950s, pastures would have been carpeted with cowslips (Primula veris). Now with the extensive use of herbicides and modern farming methods, cowslips are quite rare. Cowslips will quite readily cross-breed with primroses (Primula vulgaris), a plant of woodlands and woody banks. Compared with primulas, a border plant in gardens, cowslips are very delicate and far more attractive.

Primula is a genus of 400–500 species of low-growing herbs in the family Primulaceae. The genus includes primrose, auricula, cowslip and oxlip. Many species are grown for their ornamental flowers. They are native to the temperate Northern Hemisphere, south into tropical mountains in Ethiopia, Indonesia and New Guinea, and in temperate southern South America.

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