Walking at the moment you can’t help but notice umbels.
In botany, an umbel is an inflorescence that consists of a number of short flower stalks which spread from a common point, somewhat like umbrella ribs. The word was coined in botanical usage in the 1590s, from Latin umbella “parasol, sunshade”. The arrangement can vary from being flat-topped to almost spherical.
Apiaceae or Umbelliferae is a family of mostly aromatic flowering plants named after the type genus Apium and commonly known as the celery, carrot or parsley family, or simply as umbellifers. It is the 16th-largest family of flowering plants, with more than 3,700 speciesin 434 genera
The cow parsley that has been in flower for the past few weeks is now finishing and seed heads are developing
Insects are attracted to the tops of these umbels and often on a warm day they become tables of insect visitors.
The winter skeletons of umbels look beautiful covered in frost .
This group of plants contains poisonous varieties such as hemlock and photochemical reactions such as giant hogweed. Be carefully not to touch hogweed the sap in the sun will cause terrible blistering to the skin.
Not far from home , only 10 minutes in the car there is an area of woodland and a greenway to explore. We have often walked down this route but today we followed it much further. We have discovered over the last few weeks just how many footpaths and routes there are. We have been using a website that maps all of them which is a real eye opener.
This wide greenway is bordered by tall oaks and Ash trees . Many of the ash trees are dying or dead. On one side there are fields and on the other a damp wood which must have been a carpet of bluebells a few weeks ago. There is a small bridge into this wood, the midges and mosquitos were so thick we didn’t venture in , instead stayed on the sunny ride.
The hedges are full of dog roses as you wander along and there were surprisingly some cowslips still in flower.
Along the damp edges there was plenty of batchelors buttons too.
While walking along this wide path full of deep ruts we were passed by off road motorbikes , these paths criss cross the area and we are surprised how many there are. We will keep exploring as it’s great to uncover more things locally.
A twelve minute drive to some woods for a walk at last. The bluebells have finished with only a few pale flowers still intact. However the wood was full of Stitchwort which is bright and lovely in its own way. Underfoot the celandine leaves have turned yellow and the primrose leaves are putting on a growth spurt.
This woodland at the top of a slope is full of tall oaks that give way to areas of coppice and wet pools. There is plenty to see and the light is fantastic .
In this wetter area even though the bluebells are finished there are large areas of colour.
This is a long stretch of woodland but it is narrow and it is only a short walk out into fields that at the moment are filled with buttercups.
This field was also full of forget me nots and plenty of vetch.
Coming back down the hill from the wood the field was full of Peacock butterflies ( to quick for me to catch a photo) The horse chestnut trees are in flower and look spectacular.
At the bottom of this field ( which is huge) you walk over a small wooden bridge and follow a lovely stream.
Our Exercise walk today took us on a new route exploring local footpaths never trodden by us before.
We walked through a long skinny copse that was white with cow parsley and Hawthorn blossom . The effect was stunning, like walking through a painting.
Cow parsley has a strong scent when there is a lot in an area and this wood was definitely scented !
Exploring local footpaths has been really interesting , on this walk we came across a small area of willows and a stream in a field , as we walked near an egret took off from the steam and flew ahead of us. The path followed the railway line for a while and wild flowers were growing on the stony embankments , I loved the forget me nots and white campions.
While trekking around a field I found a great fossil bivalve. It is Jurassic in age from 170-152 million years old. I love finding fossils, this was only discovered because I moved off the path in a bit of social distancing for a cyclist !
This walk has sent us home with ideas of exploring in other directions from the house. We have looked online at footpath maps and on Friday hope to walk to a bluebell wood ! Fingers crossed. This was an interesting stroll full of delicate cow parsley and flowers.
The garden was in need of rain and down it came. After it was clear we dashed out for our exercise walk for the day. The field that a week ago had been brown soil was greening fast and the rain seems to have pushed it into fast forward.
This walk skirts the edge of this huge field following a hedge at the back of houses. The hedges are full of noisy birds flitting in and out as you walk by. The grassy verges are now starting to flower with frothy cow parsley , delicate and very pretty.
Above this the hawthorn is beginning to flower and bees were busy on this as the sun started to come out. The weather was surprisingly warm and we quickly removed coats.
Along this hedge there a a few Apple trees and the blossom is absolutely beautiful. The Apple trees in our garden are absolutely smothered in blossom this year too.
This was definitely a walk heavy with scent from blossom and flowers.
Being out in the Spring lifts the spirits and these exercise walks are a favourite part of the day .
These have been strange weeks , exploring has been curtailed and I am afraid I haven’t posted for a while. Apologies for that lack of posts. I have decided that the exercise walks will feature for these unusual times.
Walking from the house has led us to try out different footpaths and routes normally not taken looking for new views and finds.
A walk just like this on Monday was really lovely, not far from home turning right instead of left led to some fields hedges and a stream.
Spring is in full fling and there is lots to see and wonder at.
Arum maculatum also known as lord and ladies or jack in the pulpit is a favourite hedgerow and woodland spring plant. The red berries are very noticeable later in the year.
White dead nettles are really attractive plants, bees love As their name suggests they are without the sting of nettles.
Other flowers on this walk were celandines, ground ivy and hedge garlic.
This was a interesting walk starting on a very narrow tarmac lane then onto a bridle way and then following a bendy stream with really soft tall banks along field edges .
Along the banks of this water am were some huge willow trees and some had cracked and split forming sculptures with their fantastic shapes.
This was literally a wonderful breath of fresh air, fantastic spring air. Nature is moving on through the year and noticing it as the changes are happening is a wonderful thing, even more in this difficult time.
The rhythm of the day has changed so much with the lockdown, it has slowed down and made things more noticeable. The garden is a source of discovery and I have been spending as much time as possible out there planting, weeding and exploring.
Each day we are walking to either our local park or pocket park with the dog. Tonight we saw a muntjac deer hop into the blackthorn hedges. There were lots of rabbits and birds. The sky was a bright blue and sparrows and blue tits were sailing through it in groups .
We came across a huge tree that had been felled and left as a pile of enormous logs.
A walk through a small green space into the local park was rewarded with a show of celandines shining in the sun. The ditches along the hedge were full of them.
These small green spaces are surprisingly full of wildlife and wild flowers . I will be spending time exploring these everyday areas over the next few weeks when doing our daily exercise in this difficult time. Stay safe.
With lockdown travelling out and about is not an option.
The garden is the centre of nature explorations for the next few months. The weather has been amazing and the garden has been full of life. This week there have been brimstones and comma butterflies. I saw a bee fly investigating the primroses.
I only have a small garden but there is plenty going in. The wood pigeons are flapping noisily and building nests. Sparrows are flying in and out in large flocks visiting the bird feeders. Red kites are hanging in the brilliant blue sky. I’m hoping blue tits will nest again in the terracotta bird house.
The blossom is coming out, plum above, ornamental cherry at the top of the page. This has been busy with visiting bees. The garden is small but has greengage, crab Apple , pear and Apple blossom still to arrive. Hopefully plenty of fruit this year.
I will be out in the garden as much as possible and looking even more carefully than usual to discover more .