Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Well, it is still January

A bitingly cold morning but, casting aside pusillanimous thoughts, I donned scarf and gloves and set off for a walk (I hasten to add that I wore other clothing too).

Green Hellebore, Helleborus viridis, in a garden.
Christchurch Drive, Daventry. 20 January, 2015

The hard overnight frost had left plants encrusted with frost. The flower buds on a Green Hellebore, Helleborus viridis, were not far from opening but will now be in a state of suspended animation until conditions ameliorate.

Where the bright morning sun was making its presence felt Winter Jasminum, Jasminum nudiflorum, was in flower. I can see its attraction although I have never been moved to grow it. In the midst of winter it attracts no insects and, unlike many other Jasmines, it lacks scent. But it cannot be denied that this Chinese introduction provides a splash of colour in these winter conditions.

Bunches of fruit hand from an Ash tree.
Daventry, Northants. 20 January, 2015

It may surprise many to learn that our common Ash trees are in the same family as Jasmine, both being members of the Olive Family, Oleaceae. Here the 'keys' - technically achenes - hang listlessly in the cold, still, slightly misty air. Apparently bullfinches will feed on these, but I have never observed this.

In countries of southern Europe grows the Manna Ash, Fraxinus ornus. With its masses of creamy flowers the relationship with others in the Olive Family is a little clearer. (The Manna Ash is occasionally grown as a street tree in Britain. It is both beautiful and hardy; why isn't it grown more often?) As for Jasmine, in a good year I have found them bearing small, black berries and these are not unlike little olives. Somehow it all ties together.

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