February 2021 Week Four

The wet and windy weather of the previous week gave way to some clear chilly nights and a few gloriously sunny days. This brought the bees back to the mahonia flowers.bee on yellow flower

The snowdrops finally got around to opening up.snowdrops

More crocuses sprang up over the lawn, in the cracks of the paths and some are even growing on the garden. Although these crocuses of hope are now looking a little battered.purple crocus flowers

A few more primroses appeared.yellow primrose flowers

This hoverfly poked its tongue out at me.hoverfly drinking nectar from white flower

Queen bumblebees are starting to wake up, I think this is a tree bumblebee. She has a white bottom but no yellow stripes.bumblebee on yellow flower

The daffodils are flowering just in time for St David’s Day on 1st March.yellow daffodil flowers

Astronomical Spring

It was astronomical spring, the vernal equinox, on 20th March 2018. For a brief period it did start to seem spring-like once the Beast from the East had left us, although being the UK obviously it rained. photo of cherry plum blossom and blue sky

The cherry plum buds blossomed.photo of pink cherry plum blossom

One of the local crows decided they were a tasty snack.Photo of crow eating cherry blossoms

The daffodils bounced back.Photo of yellow daffodils with rain drops

The primroses have mostly been eaten, I think by slugs, but I managed to snap one.Photo of yellow primrose with rain drops

The sunshine and the mahonia blossoms brought out the bees. There was a large buff-tailed queen bumblebee but she was too busy to pose for photos. The male hairy footed flower bee was more accommodating. Check out those hairy feet!Photo of hairy footed flower bee

I was very happy to see that he was joined by a female. She has black hairs and doesn’t have the fancy moustache. She also moves too fast for my camera!photo of female hairy footed flower bee

There was also a honey bee.Photo of honey bee on mahonia

And then with two days of winter left to go, the Mini Beast from the East arrived. Can you spot the two robins? One is sitting in the apple tree, the other is on the ground.Photo of apple tree in the snow

Extra sultana rations were provided for the blackbirds. The snow didn’t last long enough to bring the fieldfares back.

The poor hedgehog was too hungry to hibernate again and left some interesting tracks in the snow between the hoghouse and the feeding station. They walk low to the ground so their skirt of prickles ploughs the snow up either side of their footprints.

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus!

Photo of daffodilHappy St David’s Day, or as the Welsh would say, “Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus!”

The 1st March is St David’s Day, he is the patron saint of Wales. He was born in Cardigan (a place in Wales, not the knitted outerwear) around 500AD. He travelled extensively as a pilgrim and ended up becoming the Archbishop of Jerusalem. His monasteries were renowned for being sparse and harsh. His monks rebelled and attempted to poison him, but he miraculously lived. Or maybe they got the dosage wrong! He did eventually die in 569AD on 1st March. He is buried at St David’s Cathedral in Pembrokeshire, 2 pilgrimages there are said to equal 1 to the Vatican.

Photo of daffodilIt is traditional to wear a leek on St David’s Day, as he told Welsh warriors to wear leeks when they fought the Saxons, so that they could tell who was who. The Welsh won the battle. During his last sermon he urged his followers to “… do the little things …”.

In more recent times people have chosen to wear a daffodil, the national symbol of Wales, rather than St David’s personal symbol the leek, unsurprisingly.Photo of daffodils

You can read more about daffodils in my previous post, Blooming Narcissists. I shall leave you with the last verse of William Wordsworth’s poem, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud“.

“For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils.”

My Own Personal Raincloud

Photo of daffodils by Hereford's Old WallTuesday was a cold, but sunny day. I thought that I would take a stroll down to the river and try to take some nice photos for you.

As I passed the remnants of the old wall that used to encircle the City of Hereford, dating from around 1264AD, I noted there was a good display of daffodils dancing in the sunlight.

Photo of black cloud behind churchOn my way to the Old Bridge something made me turn and look behind me. The weathercock of All Saints Church was glinting in the sunlight, but the backdrop was a great big black cloud. Clearly it was following me. No sooner had I pressed the shutter to take this photograph when the cloud unleashed its watery wrath upon me.

Photo of silhouette of treeSo I packed the camera away and abandoned my mission. On my way home, the rain ceased just as the light was fading. However, I was taken by the beautiful silhouette this old tree made against the fading light.

Blooming Narcissists

Well I guess spring will arrive in its own sweet time. Meanwhile I got bored of waiting and bought some narcissi to brighten the place up a bit. Having taken some rather poor photographs of them, I tried to spruce them up a bit on the computer.Photo of narcissi

More usually we call them daffodils and they are a member of the Amaryllidaceae family. They are natives of Europe and Africa, being introduced later to the Far East. They have become an important crop, providing cut flowers to connoisseurs such as myself. However, they were and still are an important plant for health purposes. They produce alkaloids as a poison to protect themselves, but these can have medicinal properties. Daffodils are grown commercially near Brecon, in Wales, to produce Galantamine, a drug used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. It is also the national flower of Wales.Photo of narcissi

It is thought that the plant was named after Narcissus who spent far too long admiring his own reflection in a pool and eventually drowned in it. However, Pliny (who should know because he named the plant) claimed it was named after its fragrance, from the Greek for “I grow numb”.

The variety of cultivar shapes reflect the variety of pollinators they attract; including bees, butterflies, moths and flies. Wild daffodils are now rare due to habitat destruction. If you want to know why they are yellow, you might like to read my blog posts here and here.Photo of narcissi

Like many other flowers, some superstitious people will not have them in the house. They are considered unlucky because they hang their heads. They are also associated with death, possibly due to accidental and non-accidental poisonings, but also because Hades kidnapped Persephone into the Underworld while she was picking narcissi. As you might imagine, Sylvia Plath has written a cheery poem about them, which you can read here, but I shall whet your appetite with a snippet:

The narcissi, too, are bowing to some big thing :
It rattles their stars on the green hill where Percy
Nurses the hardship of his stitches, and walks and walks.