The mild winter we had this year in England made the first spring flowers come out early. Last year, it was about halfway through February when I first caught primroses, crocuses, ranunculi, and snowdrops on camera, as you can see in the blog post I made then: Spring is in the air.
While the primroses were already past their prime, it appeared to be a bit cold for the ranunculi.
The snowdrops were magnificent today.
The best of the crocuses are still to come, followed by the narcissus. It’s so nice to see nature coming back to life…
The bright yellow ranunculi certainly added a cheerful note.
On one of my last visits to the Oxford Botanic Garden, the Nicandra physalodes caught my eye. Apparently, the plant goes by a number of English names: shoo-fly plant, apple of Peru, apple of Sodom, and Peruvian bluebell.
I just like the way the plant grows: a single, bell-shaped flower followed by a row of pods. The pods – or calyces – reminded me of their better known, bright orange counterparts: Chinese lanterns.
In the Botanic Garden in Oxford, I came across this beautiful trio of the blue globe thistle (Echinops bannaticus). One sphere in full flowers, the other two just getting into bloom but already attracting a bee.
This season, I there were so many other flowers I wanted to catch on camera in the Botanic Garden in Oxford that I missed the crown imperial (Fritillaria imperialis) in bloom.
The week though, while I was roaming through Cambridge’s Botanic Garden I was struck by the beauty the seed pods this plant produces.
The beauty of a rose can -with a bit of luck- be captured with a camera. Unfortunately, a photo can’t convey its sweet smell. But maybe you can imagine their scent looking at these pictures. These shots are from the Oxford Botanic Garden, and one or two from the Orto Botanico di Padova.
Maybe you’re familiar with Cicely Mary Barkers painting that accompanies the poem of the Rose Fairy. If not, you’ll find it here. I bought the print years ago, had it framed and still admire it. The poem is lovely as well:
Best and dearest flower that grows,
Perfect both to see and smell;
Words can never, never tell
Half the beauty of a Rose —
Buds that open to disclose
Fold on fold of purest white,
Lovely pink, or red that glows
Deep, sweet-scented. What delight
To be Fairy of the Rose!
As with the Natural History Museum in London, I like the building of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History just as much as the collections it contains. There is so much to be seen on the stonework: squirrels eating acorns, carved tulips, pineapples, irises, orchids, meat-eating plants, ferns unfurling, birds and a frog hiding between leaves, and a fair number of plants and animals I don’t recognise.
Not only are the stone pillars adorned with carvings of animals and plants, the iron pillars are beautifully decorated with leaves and branches as well. Whale skeletons seem to swim in this sea of pillars.
Statues of eminent men of science stand guard in the court on the ground floor.
Some like to have a picknick on the lawn in front of the museum.
On an earlier visit to the Botanic Garden in Oxford, I found mainly poppies of the ‘Ladybird’ variety. About a week later, there were still a lot of Ladybirds around. But pink, lilac and dark purple poppies were now towering over them. As before, bees were around as well. Flying from flower to flower to gather food.
In the Botanic Garden in Oxford, a collection of red poppies with black dots reminded me of ladybirds. Seen from above, my husband associated them with ballerinas in a tutu.
One thing is for certain: this bumblebee liked them as well.
Lots of buds, so more poppies to come…
Would the orange poppies have anything to do with the Dutch monarchy?
Some large-leaved bright red papavers
And the occasional white poppy
Fields full of tulips are a joy to behold. In several provinces in the Netherlands, the colourful fields stretch as far as the eye can see.
At the beginning of a row, you’ll often see a knotted net. The tulip bulbs are planted in nets as this makes it easier to harvest them, especially in areas where the soil is more clay-like than sandy.
Sooner or later a stowaway shows its true colours.
Around the end of April, farmers are taking the flowerheads off: they are topping the tulips. In this way, the bulbs grow bigger before they are harvested during the summer months. Not all flowers are chopped off, though. Between the green stems, a fair number of tulips come into bloom. They were too small when the others were topped.
Last week, I had to look well to spot the first spring flowers. Today, they grew in abundance. A few days of sunshine and warmth, et voilà: Spring has come!
Even though the past days were wintry cold in Oxford, the flowers in the churchyard of St Mary and St John’s Church proclaim that spring is coming…