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Pink and purple poppies

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.

 

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True tulip tree

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.

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Tulip-like magnolia

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.

Tree full of hankies

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.

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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.

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Bright poppies

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…

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Would the orange poppies have anything to do with the Dutch monarchy?

 

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Some large-leaved bright red papavers

And the occasional white poppy

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A single tree in a sea of heather

A single pine tree surrounded by a sea of heather creates a strong contrast. It’s a great sight, even in spring, when heather fields 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.

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Trees with young leaves display a range of colours.

 

Tulips as far as the eye can see

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.

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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.

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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.

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