Saturday, 9 March 2019


Oh dear, three times this week I have gathered together my paraphernalia, aiming to do a little more insect/spider recording. Three times have the clouds rolled over, bringing rain and scuppering my plans.

It was ever thus. John Clare, in his writings, puts it clearly:

                                  March month of 'many weathers' wildly comes
                                  In hail and snow and rain and threatening hums
                                  and floods...

                                                  John Clare, Shepherd's Calendar: March

In this poem Clare may be using the word 'hums' in the old sense of a hoax: occasionally threatening clouds roll in only to pass over without incident. But certainly we have had rain and hail this week, the latter hammering on our conservatory roof in an alarming fashion.

Earlier in the week a fusillade of heavy hail peppered our garden.
4 March, 2019
Some flowers are bravely blooming, notably the daffodils, stoically facing whatever the heavens throw at them.

Some of our Pasque flowers have taken a look at the weather and have recklessly opened a little. A few optimistic bumble bees, tempted out by a short sunny spell, have zig-zagged through the garden but have not lingered. They will visit the pasque flowers and aubretia, but all in good time. The pasque flowers are of a red strain, arguably less lovely than our purple Northamptonshire native plants, but striking nevertheless. Most botanists seem to regard the red form as simply a variety of Pulsatilla vulgaris, although the R.H.S. refers to them as Pulsatilla rubra. There seems little justification in regarding these plants as two separate species and P. vulgaris does for me.

Our pasque flowers have cautiously half opened. 9 March, 2019
As for the daffodils, they have been highly manipulated by plant breeders, but in the course of so doing those characteristics which might tempt bees to pay a visit have been largely lost. The plant breeders of course do their pollination by hand but the bees generally pass them by.

To be honest I ought not to be going out hunting creepy-crawlies. Although I have sown our broad beans there remains a load of red onion sets to be planted on our allotment, and they should take priority.


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