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.

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,…

The end of October

Among the browns and reds of autumn, there are still many summer flowers out despite my book saying those like hogweed and greater burnet saxifrage should be over by September.

Close up

At a first glance, you might think plants were all dying back now but looking closely there are many flowers still among the seed-heads. Here are some from the verge between Ivybridge station and Bittaford.

To the station and back

A poppy near the church in Bittaford, and some more poppy buds and capsules further on. All along the verge there are patches of zigzag clover, which is less common than white and red clovers but is plentiful here. Note the tapering, pointed stipules and widely spaced brightly coloured petals. Another interesting flower is agrimony, its tall…

Evening in the garden

My camera insisted on using flash on a bright evening, with some nice results. There is a wild patch under the sycamore tree where red campions are thriving, and also the last few early dog violets.

April on Bittaford Road

Early purple orchids are flowering at the junction near Ash Rosettes. Beautiful, but far fewer than last year. Cow parsley, hogweed, and garlic mustard (Jack-by-the-hedge) are giving the verges some height now. An early specimen of red clover, rather chewed.

Leigh Lane and Lud brook

New oak and hazel leaves, holly and blackthorn flowers, and the last few catkins overhead in Leigh Lane. Under foot, bluebells, three speedwells, two violets, and three umbellifers. Yellow dandelions, lesser celandines, and creeping buttercups in Leigh Lane, and gorse and tormentil on the moor. Also in Leigh Lane, pink purslane, herb robert, and campions and white wood…


Off to Ivybridge via the moor. This has to be the best walk to the shops. Along Leigh Lane, shade-loving wood sorrel is just opening and there are new marsh violets unfolding in the bogs near the Lud brook. The sunshine brings out the vivid reds, greens and yellows of the moss. The mysterious hole, with some new scratches nearby….

The end of August

A mix of late-summer flowers and autumnal fruits, with hedge bindweed stealing the show. Climbers like bryony and vetch are still hanging on, while persicaria, knotgrass, knapweed and the magically-named enchanter’s nightshade are in their prime. Early traces of autumn include blackberries, rose hips, hazelnuts and dandelion clocks.