To spot these growing pumpkins, you have to get close to the ground. Viewing the field whilst standing, the umbrella-like leaves hide the bright orange balls almost completely.
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.
You can find this little lane sheltered by old lindens in Vaassen (The Netherlands). It’s called ‘Kersendijkje’, Cherry dyke. (No idea though where that name came from. You won’t find any cherry trees along this dyke). The lane is right next to Cannenburgh Castle. I was told many teenagers in this village share their first kiss under these trees. It does make sense: the lane is totally sheltered from spying eyes. I just love the way the trees are leaning.
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.
Last week, I spotted a tree with white, tulip-like flowers in the Botanic Garden in Oxford. This weekend I discovered they have a true tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) as well. The name doesn’t give it away, but it belongs to the magnolia family.
The pale green buds and the flowers, light green with a bit of orange, are not always easy to spot between the leaves.
White tulip-like flowers sheltered by large green leaves. What type of tree is this?, I wondered. I had once seen a tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) and this one evidently a different type of tree.
After a while, I spotted the sign: Magnolia sieboldii subsp. sinensis. Chinese magnolia in common English.
One interesting detail: the tulip tree belongs to the magnolia family as well.
Last week, in the Oxford Botanical Garden I came across a tree that seemed to be surrounded by used white handkerchiefs or tissues. Looking up, I found that the little white sheets had actually fallen from the tree.
A sign by the tree identified it as a Davidia involucrata. It originates from China and is commonly known as handkerchief tree, dove tree and ghost tree.
It is a lovely sight, to see the bracts fluttering in the wind like white doves or pinched handkerchiefs.
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
A single pine tree in a sea of heather creates a strong contrast. It’s a great sight, even in spring, when the shrubs are not in their prime.
Heather fields, little lakes, forest, and blue skies: great ingredients for a hike around the Renderklippen, a nature reserve in the Netherlands.
Trees with young leaves display a range of colours.
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.