West Dartmoor

A lovely walk along Drake’s Leat and up Leeden Tor, followed by a brief stop south of Yelverton to look at Heath Spotted Orchids. There were mountain ferns all along the leat, otherwise known as lemon-scented ferns for their defining attribute. Ingra Tor looks like a normal tor from the southern approach but suddenly you…

Ladies, gents and bucklers

When I started looking for ferns at Christmas, there was no lady’s fern. Now its graceful fronds are everywhere. It grows in a neat shuttlecock formation. The pinnules are, aptly, like a frilly version of male fern’s. Three buckler ferns are found in Devon: broad buckler, narrow buckler, and hay-scented buckler. Hay-scented buckler is fairly easy…

Into the woods

Primroses and bluebells in Penstave Woods.        An impressive Drinker moth caterpillar on the verge of Bittaford Road. Note the ‘horns’ of hair at either end. The moth drinks dew. Also the first early purple orchid. I’m fascinated by these mutant plants. They seem to be quite common along this stretch of road. Could traffic…

Spring at last!

There’s a dazzling display of dandelions, interspersed with lady’s smock, at the turning to Ivybridge station. The stitchwort is out in the hedgerows at last, with wood sorrel in shady spots. The first bluebells and buds of yellow archangel are showing in Penstave woods. There are newts in our pond again too.

Spring in Bohemia

There were masses of celandines and sweet violets in Prague and its surroundings, but also flowers that are native to the Czech Republic but rarer here or only found as garden escapes. These cowslips and lungwort were growing between the gravestones in the Jewish Cemetery in Prague. At Sázava monastery, there was yellow star of Bethlehem,…

Windflowers

There were lots of wood anemones at Penstave Woods last week. They have some lovely vernacular names, including windflowers and moggy nightgown. According to Plantlife, moggy nightgown comes from Derbyshire where moggy means mouse, thus mouse’s nightgown. A rusty-back fern growing in a wall:

Town hall clock

Moschatel is a very prompt flower, befitting its common name of Town Hall Clock. Last year and the year before, it flowered at the end of March along with shining cranesbill, greater stitchwort and bluebells. This year it is here again for Easter, but the other flowers are way behind because of the persistent cold…

New England Wood

New England Wood is Devon Wildlife Trust’s newest reserve, rescued from development by local campaigning. It could have looked like this desolate area nearby: Instead it is a beautiful haven for birds and wildflowers. There were flocks of redwings and some marsh tits. Sitting by the River Yealm, it is hard to believe that the…

More spring, more snow

A splash of purple scented violets under the viaduct, and the first few white specimens in the verge on Bittaford road this week. It was just light enough to take photos while walking home from the station. Dandelions were looking glorious in the sunshine; they are an important source of food for insects early in…

Winter again

A month ago at White Oxen there were drifts of primroses and snowdrops, a few white sweet violets, self-heal and dandelions. A nuthatch was noisily proclaiming its territory. Stinking hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) is native in parts of Britain (in a band from Kent to North Wales, according to Harrap’s Wild Flowers) and nationally scarce. This specimen,…

Snow and spring

  There was snow in Sheffield last weekend but back in Devon it feels like spring, with celandines, saxifrage, ivy-leaved speedwell and new growth of English stonecrop in the walls.   Frogs have been busy in the pools by Ludbrook and there are bright green new leaves of lesser spearwort under the flowing water of the brook.

New growth

A couple of weeks ago, under wintery skies, there were already new shoots of hemlock water dropwort, wild garlic and lords-and-ladies in the verge, the first flowers of pink purslane and clumps of snowdrops.