Nature Knows

Walking in the Kent countryside this afternoon I am reminded that, beyond the confines of our garden, spring is not quite as far advanced as I might have imagined. In the heady rush of seed planting and potting on, enveloped by the scent of cultivated wallflowers, narcissi and primroses, it’s easy to assume that the natural world is keeping pace with me.

Cowparsley foliage, Kingsdown, Kent, April 2016

But nature moves to its own rhythms and is still waiting patiently for spring. While lush puddles of lords and ladies, feathered beds of cow parsley and magical carpets of primrose emerge at ground level, the rest of the countryside is having an extended lie-in after an especially chilly February and March. In the hedgerows blackthorn, Prunus spinosa, is only just starting to bloom. Its dense, menacing branches are still adorned with buds as tight and white as tiny seed pearls. When they open they will transform brooding boundaries into billowing clouds of blossom. Look closely and you’ll find the simple flowers are as beautiful as any of its cultivated kin.

Blackthorn, Kingsdown, Kent, April 2016

From tomorrow we are promised warmer days and balmier nights, which might well pull the trigger on the starting gun of spring. Unlike us gardeners, always hoping, anticipating, trying to get one step ahead, nature knows when the time is right and is keeping her powder dry until then.

Primroses at Saltwood Castle, Kent, May 2013

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14 thoughts on “Nature Knows

  1. Lovely blackthorn, and you have me thinking I should put in primroses for next spring. My spirea and quince are amping up (love flowering quince) and the damson’s already nearly blown; I’m hoping it stays warmish for a bit so it can finish properly (I don’t know why it matters, I never get any fruit off of it, but I still hate to see the blooms freeze.)

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    1. I love a flowering quince too. Those beautiful flowers set against bare branches are wonderful. I am surprised your damson doesn’t do better. My parents have a few trees and they are the most reliable of all the plums …. and taste amazing too. Perhaps this year will be your year 🙂

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  2. I love native wildflowers. I must live in a warmer or more sheltered part of the UK than you; we’ve had blackthorn blossom for a while. There are even bluebells coming out in the woods already.

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  3. Was quite entertained by your descriptive writing and popping word choice in this post, Dan. Love that you have hedgerows in the UK . . . I don’t know much about them but they strike me as constituting their own micro ecosystem within the larger landscape.

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    1. We still have hundreds of thousands of miles of hedgerow in the UK and you are quite right, they are an ecosystem in their own right and relatively biodiverse for an island with limited native flora. They can be up to a thousand years old and maintaining them correctly is an art in itself. You might find this website article interesting Jan: http://mobile.wildlifetrusts.org/site/wildlifetrusts?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wildlifetrusts.org%2Fwildlife%2Fhabitats%2Fhedgerows&utm_referrer=#2923

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