Gaiainaction has inspired me to write a post on spring and sense of place. All around spring is in full flow. Fruit blossom burst forth not just on the trees in the garden but also along the hedgerows that line our roads and divide the fields around us.
On the hedge banks primroses, my favourite spring flower, release their delicate scent.
In the trees, blackbirds and pigeons are building nests. Robins are finding the highest branches to sing and proclaim their territories. In the sunshine of the afternoon, sleepy butterflies, recently woken from their winter hibernation drink thirstily from the nectaries of flowers.
Red Admiral on plum blossom
As I walk up the road there is a spring in my step. The grey, dark days of winter are finally over us. Each walk brings new highlights. The first bumblebees, the first violets. Whatever it is. These little gems cannot be seen from the inside of a car, so it is important to get out and walk. Experience nature. Immerse yourself in the sounds, scents and joys of it all. Go outside. See if you can find something different, something you have never noticed before.
Buff tailed bumblebee
It is unnaturally warm. Some parts of Ireland it was 17 degrees Celsius today, here in the west only 15, a temperature we would be happy with in May.
The mild weather has brought out the bumblebees. Queen bumblebees hibernate over the winter. In usual years we would see the first queens emerge in mid-March.
The first bees were spotted by my children on Sunday, and over the last couple of days we have seen some more. This was the first one I managed to get close up to photograph.
The spring flowering heather is a new addition to the garden planted to provide early food for the queens. They need both nectar and pollen after there long winter sleep. Heather, crocus , hellebore, dandelion and willow are all good early food sources.
With Climate Change resulting in much less predictable weather patterns, bumblebees are vulnerable. If the weather turns cold again the queens can only survive a couple of days without food.
We know when spring is coming when the frogs arrive back in the garden pond. Last year they were late (early March), but this year they are already back in force – first ones arrive earlier in the week.
There appears to be a little fewer than last year – about 100, compared to around 120 last year. They are not easy to count though so it is just an estimate!
Here in Ireland, the 1st of February is celebrated as Saint Brigid’s Day and is seen by many, perhaps optimistically, as the first day of spring!
It was great to see the children leave school today clutching their Saint Brigid’s Crosses. We made some more at home.
Rushes are weaved together to form a simple cross. There are a number of different designs. This is the one I have known since I was a school girl.
You can learn more about St Brigid traditions here.
It is always nice when a photograph turns out not as one expected. I like the way the flower emerges from the green below. I wouldn’t expect to find celendine flowering till late February. But here it is already showing it’s yellow head at the end of January.
It is an exceptionally early spring here and flowers are already emerging. And despite the fact that a cold week is forecast, much of the winter has been very mild.
Things are really greening up, though it still only feels like early spring. Wood anemones, Wood sorrel, Cuckoo flower and Daffodils all add splashes of welcome colour. Who needs elaborate shades, when simple whites, yellows and delicate pinks can do the job just as well?