Friday, May 1, 2009

Greens and whites

Today's walk in the park was glorious. It was a bit breezy but at 3pm in the afternoon it was still sunny, blue-skied and seriously enjoyable.

As usual, click on the photograph to see the bigger image if required.

The main impression on entering the park is that everything was green, topped with white - every shade of green and white that one could think of. Trees, bushes, shrubs and plants are all expanding into life with leaves, shoots, fruit and flowers. The woodland path next to Watermans Walk is bright with deciduous and evergreen leaves, with the silver leaves of the birch and the near-yellow robinia adding real variety to the upward view. At eye level the hawthorn is beautiful, rich and strongly scented.

Nearer to knee level along the same stretch of pathway the stinging nettles and cow parsley are aiming for world takeover but thankfully the grass cutters have been out, keeping the expansion under control and leaving a deliciously sweet aroma in the air.

Elsewhere the bluebells are slowly going over, the primroses and gorse have gone along with the white dead nettles. The red dead nettles seem to be much less in evidence. The fruit blossoms have all gone over. The cherry laurel blooms are now completely brown and dead. It will be interesting to see what comes next. The bright yellows of the dandelions and their relations are dying off, and their seed clocks are becoming denuded of seeds. All change.

There are many survivors, however, including the inevitable Cow parsley and Cleavers, Green alcanet, which is expanding fast, purple Honesty and white Garlic Mustard both of which are developing masses of thin oval seed pods, and the Three-cornered Garlic which is now fully in flower beyond the butterfly sanctuary but looks as though it will be going over shortly. The tiny pink flowers which were so difficult to identify last week (Mountain/Hedgerow Cranesbill) are now holding their own amongst the daisies.

These survivors are now being joined by some lovely new colours amongs the trees and shrubs - the Dog roses and Field roses are coming into flower, and promise to be a real marvel in the coming weeks. The blackthorns lost their blossom over a week ago but are now coming into fruit - hard and light green. The ivy is unfolding new leaves which are so bright and shiny that they seem almost artificial, as though they have been newly polished and varnished.

At ground level there are many new flowers including Herb Bennet, Herb Robert, a variety of buttercups and a bright pink vetch.

The ponds were quiet. The Downtown pond seemed to be doing okay but the run-off into the Watermans Walk channel was completely dry. I don't know what has happened with the new water supply that was supposed to be going in last week, and need to find out. The hawthorn frames the Downtown Ponds fabulously and the colours of the vivid white, the green and the reflected bright blue sky were terrific. I could see tiny fish swimming in the pond but there was no bird life to be seen there, aquatic or otherwise.

At Globe Pond things were equally quiet. A single Canada goose was relaxing on the central pontoon and there were some TRUE people working on a pathway, but there was nothing much else to see. I didn't go through the gate and instead took the path up towards the windmill where the cowslips are still providing a yellow display, but are quickly going over. I will be sad when they have gone completely because they have been a real pleasure. On the other hand, I spotted the first of the Wild and Field roses in Stave Hill and was delighted to know that they will soon be everywhere.

At the Stave Hill pond there was certainly something to see - a medium sized white dog was creating a giant-sized disturbance in the water and having a wonderful time, much to the consternation of its owners ("bad girl, BAD girl"). The water was so thoroughly disturbed that all that could be seen was mud.

In all damp areas and ponds the reeds and other water plants seem to be doing very well. The yellow flags are looking very healthy and seem set to provide us with a marvellous display this year. They are considered to be something of a weed because they are so invasive, but they are wonderfully decorative.

I saw no foxes or squirrels. Perhaps there were too many people around. I only spotted a handful of insects apart from flies and a myriad of butterflies. The butterflies included several whites, two Brimstones, several Meadow Browns, a Comma, a Peacock and a small blue butterfly which was far too far away to identify.

Apart from the butterflies the wildlife may have been in abeyance, but the public were very much in evidence - people with bikes, pushchairs, children, picnics, books and dogs. It was busier than I have seen it in a long time. Everyone seemed to be uplifted by the sun and flowers. I wish that I could have taken a video of a woman playing with her dog - he had one end of a rubber toy and she the other and they were having a tug of war which was so funny to watch. People were stopping in their tracks to enjoy the spectacle.

There will be several more posts following this one, to show off some of the new additions to the Springtime array.

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