Saturday 12 March 2016

Midwinter Spring

As a warm autumn gave way to winter, with the mild wet and windy weather continuing through December and January, it became obvious that winter would be either late or not happen at all. By the end of January, there had been only three frosty nights. As a result, many plants in Milton Country Park continued growing, with some flowering precociously early.

Periwinkle flowering with trees behind
Play Area - 13 January 2016

This periwinkle for instance has continued to grow and flower unchecked since the previous summer.

Clump of snowdrops in flower
Garden - 3 January 2016

Some of the snowdrops in the garden were well advanced and flowering by early January.  This clump must have been in a well favoured positioned, as elsewhere in the park,  there were very few of these flowers in evidence.

Hazel bush laden with catkins
Car Park - 8 January 2016

Amongst the plants flowering earlier than usual, the hazel was the most numerous and prominant.  One of the best displays of catkins was on this bush in one corner of the car park.  It is symptomatic of the season that, even by midwinter, the bush had not lost all its leaves.

Hazel with catkins in hedge
Southernmost Path - 13 January 2016

More generally, the catkins proved far more elusive to photograph.  The small yellow tassels on bare branches, which seemed so obvious to the naked eye, seemed to shrink to nothing and disappear in a photograph.  Here, the catkins, spotlighted by the sun and taken against a blue sky, are some way to having the impact they had when I saw them.

Cherry plum bush with buds and flowers
Shirley Close Exit - 3 January 2016

The snowdrop and the hazel were early but not that early.  This cherry plum by the gate to Shirley Close was blooming at the beginning of January.  I started photographing the park for this blog at the end of February 2015, and there was certainly no blossom out at that time.  This makes these flowers two to three months early.

Green Shoots


Cuckoo pint leaves breaking through fallen leaves
Woods North of Park - 9 December 2015

Besides the flowers, a lot of plants were starting to grow.  In the woods, the cuckoo pint was beginning to come up.  These short, compact,  green plants are particularly conspicuous in the woods during the winter months. 

Large patch of comfrey at base of trees
Woods South of Park - 12 January 2016

One plant that was making the best of the conditions was comfrey, with large patches like this in the woods and besides the path at the south of the park. 

Next: Snowdrop Time


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