I’ve been absolutely fascinated by the woodland in spring this year. I missed three months of the woodland last year with being either too heavily pregnant to walk very far or stuck in the house recovering with the new-born. Whereas this year, during lock-down, I’ve had all the time in the world to stoop down and peer at tiny delicate blooms and stop to admire great swathes of newly emerged colour. Each day when we take our daily exercise there are changes in the blankets of flowers that cover the woodland floor. Just as one flower begins to fade another comes through, fresh and vibrant. The light changes all the time, highlighting these petals today and this fuzzy stem tomorrow. Just when I think I’ve recorded all the flowers another one appears and sends me whizzing home to google. It has made me feel so alive.
I don’t know much about wildflowers, other than the classics like snowdrops, so I decided to keep a record of the flowers in the woodland this year. I thought that if I drew them and made notes this year I will have a record to refer to next year when I have inevitably forgotten everything I knew. One of the many frustrating things about being me is having a very unreliable memory for names.
I’ve been learning how to tell my Wood Sorrel, Wood Anemone and Greater Stitchwort apart. I now know that Red Campion isn’t very red and Green Alkanet flowers aren’t green. I’ve concluded that our bluebells aren’t native, that I’ve been living under a misapprehension about what a Wild Garlic plant looks like, and that what I thought was a mushroom turned out to be a parasitic chlorophyll-free plant called Toothwort. It’s a wonderland out there and it is waiting for me to learn about it.
Most recently – after the bluebells made a little space for them – there has been an explosion of yellow flowers in the woodland. First came the delicate Welsh Poppies with their heads bobbling gently in the breeze, and then the more robust yellow daisy-like flowers. They are tall and proud and there are thousands of them. I’m not 100% sure but they seem to be Leopard’s Bane, unless anyone can tell me differently.
I’ve also been recording some of the birds and animals that we’ve been seeing in the woodland and the garden in April and May, including summer migrants like the Black Cap, Willow Warbler and Swallows, alongside our local favourites like mallards and dippers. It’s been particularly nice to get some really good looks at the Grey Wagtails that seem to have settled into the area.
My faithful companion on all these explorations has, of course, been Buddy dog. He has developed a little patience for me stopping to take photos now that he’s a mature boy, but he still barks at me if I take too long. He also likes to come and have a look at what could be so interesting which has led to the squishing of several poor flowers. I wrote this ditty to the tune of My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean in tribute to his boisterous company:
“My Buddy he sits on the bluebells
my Buddy he sits on my knee
my Buddy he sits on the bluebells
the problem is he thinks he’s wee.”
I should probably give up the drawing and become a songwriter.
PS I’ve been trying out some new pens! Black Copic Multiliners in various thicknesses. I like them but I think they would prefer smoother paper than the sketchbook I’m using at the moment. If anyone has any recommendations of other sketching pens to try please leave a comment!