As I wrote yesterday, last Sunday morning was a real Spring time treat, all sun-shining and pleasantly warm (nippy enough for a shawl and a cardigan but Winter coats were left at home)….everyone’s garden are now bursting with colour, tiny grape hyacinths, smudges of primroses, bright little daubs around front lawns….but it’s the wild flowers that grow along our verges and hedgerows that own my heart…..
There’s been a lot of “conservation” work been done around here of late and the banks of wild violets that made my heart fair skip to see were all dug over in the late Autumn and planted with bulbs (in an area of shade so the bulbs have so far failed to show themselves)….over zealous weeding has seen the sides of steps now bare and the soil all exposed where past Springs have seen them sprigged with glossy green leaves and tiny flowers that were the deepest most royal purple…..happily there are some still walks that no one has seen fit to tidy or spruce up and it’s along there we headed out……
The dead nettle petals are such a bright mauve, it’s a really pretty colour . It’s only looking at them closer you appreciate how the top leaves are also purpley tinged rather than being all green….I guess it’s so bees spot them better, and what looks like a big “flower” is actually just tiny tips of blossom. I know you can use them in all sorts of herbal remedies but along here is quite a popular spot for dog walking so I tend not to bother with ground foraging and prefer to pick things that are growing at least waist height.
Just across from the common there’s a track leading up to the Mill, and on the corner was a tree all heavily laden with pollen bursting catkins…..they’re so powdery and as they explode open reveal hundreds of fine silken filaments…..
I liked this bit of the tree as the catkins all seemed to be in different stages….the downy catkin nublets at the far left really do look like tiny kitten paws, and in fact the word “catkin” is old Dutch for cat or kitten. I rarely walk past a tree in Spring time without stroking the velvety ‘kins between my finger and thumb.
The opening catkin is such a glorious display of colour….silvery sage filaments tipped with the brighest eggiest yellow…….I think this would be a great combination for Anna Maltz’s Teenguin cardigan….especially if you used a really fine and silky yarn for the pollen.
They also remind me of plantain (or fleawort) when it’s coming into flower…the khaki coloured body with the halo like flowers rippling down as they open…a bit like falling dominoes when you see it speeded up.
Up by the river the dead trees are once again looking green and lush…covered in a thick finger deep cushion of bright apple coloured moss…..I’m truly terrible when I’m out walking and have to prod and poke things…stag horn sumac is stroked, people’s roses are sniffed, fingertips caress bricky moss covered walls and textured tree bark….even if it’s really cold and I’m all mittened up, I can’t resist a patch of fat furry moss.
This moss was some of the softest, and in the sunshine was really warm and almost eye closingly pleasurable to stroke……it certainly provoked an “ooohhhh” of delight.
In the sunlight the moss looks golden, glowing and illuminious….when (when when when…trying to find enough time in the day) I get round to practicing stranded knitting, quiet places like this will be my inspiration…..just singling out a couple of combinations….the granny smith green at the centre of the ivy leaves with the reddish tinged brown edges….the almost burnst black bark with sienna and sepia stokes…..
All shaggy and wild, tree beardy……those wispy mossy fronds are so soft, delicate…..the most intense bright green, like a plate of glorious Spring salad…..a wonderful combination of texture and colour.
In the colder months or when the weather is bad it’s hard to walk out here, the meadow leading up to the river bank is a bit squelchy even in high June or July when it’s been dry for weeks on end, coming up here in April when there have been 3 days of rain preceeding is a bit mad but if the sun is out it’s certainly worth damp trousers legs and mud caked shoes. It’s rare to find dog walkers here and so the birds in the river are much likely to be left undisturbed…swans, moorhens, ducks are nearly always spotted…and in a month or so the air above the water will be filled with jewel coloured dragon flies that flit and dart about….the trees that line the other side of the river bank have for the most part been left alone, and any “conservation” work that’s been done along here hasn’t reached them….on a day like this when it’s quiet and sunshiny I fully expect to spy a little boat being rowed by Ratty with Mole his happy, blinky eyed companion along side him.