Sunday, 10 March 2019

We're getting there

Earlier today I popped into Byfield to see a friend. I took the opportunity for a stroll to the Pocket Park but, despite being sunny, the wind made it feel rather chilly. On passing the church I noticed that, other than a few conifers and the ever-present ivy, the trees were still leafless, but there were a few signs of spring; we are getting there.

Byfield church is surrounded by largely leafless trees
10 March, 2019
Green Alkanet, Pentaglottis sempervirens, is very well established around the village, as it is over much of Northamptonshire. This alien from south-west Europe can be a real nuisance, becoming quite invasive in some areas, crowding out our native flora. It was in flower this morning near the village post office and although the flowers are cheerful and much appreciated by bees (plus the occasional butterfly) the plant is an untidy mess by late summer.

Green Alkanet is currently flowering beside the village post office
in Byfield. 10 March, 2019
Another alien beginning to make its presence felt in the pocket park, though not yet in flower, is the Spanish Bluebell, Hyacinthoides hispanica. Although less fragrant than our native Bluebell, H. non-scriptus, it is arguably a better garden plant, being more sturdy and so lacking the tendency to flop badly after flowering. Although it too is a good bee-plant it is not generally welcomed by naturalists as it hybridises so readily with the native species. (Speaking of which, I am reminded that the Scottish Wildcat has now been declared functionally extinct by researchers at Edinburgh Zoo as a consequence of hybridisation with domestic cats.)

Spanish Bluebells are pushing through apace in Byfield Pocket Park.
10 March, 2019

Regarding the formation of hybrids, one plant which will never do so is the rather grotesque Daffodil 'Rip van Winkle', currently flowering beside The Green in Byfield. It appears to bear no pollen. Although I am not a fan of daffodils at least they have a rather appealing simplicity and must be among the first flowers that children learn to name, but this... no, I can't go on or I'll risk apoplexy!

Narcissus 'Rip van Winkle'. Some people must like it.
Byfield, 10 March, 2019

So there we have it. Crocuses and snowdrops have largely gone but a fresh suite of flowers is now replacing them to welcome in the spring.

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