Garden News

Floral delights - wildflowers & blossom

Juliets Jottings roundallWildlife enthusiast and resident volunteer at Exbury, Juliet, describes the floral delights of Exbury in Spring:

Blossom

This has been the most magnificent spring for blossom. Helped by the settled conditions of recent weeks, but largely as a result of last summer’s heat (which ripened the wood), every flowering tree and shrub from huge magnolias in gardens such as Exbury to the acres of gorse which cover the New Forest, has given of its best.

Blackthorn, wild cherry, acacia, even unpruned laurel hedges have produced masses of blossom, enticing bees and other small insects to feast on their pollen. Even Japanese acers, not renowned for giving any kind of spectacular display, are producing their little red flowers in profusion.

Japanese acer

Japanese acer

Wildflowers

But in the midst of all this splendour let’s not forget the humbler members of the floral kingdom, the wildflowers.

Along the roadside verges and in any odd untended corner the often despised dandelion is in glorious flower, its golden discs gleaming against the bright green of the grass. It is a symbol of the sun and its name means “lion’s tooth”. Its composite flower head, consisting of many small florets, is a vital early-spring nectar source for many different pollinators.

dandelion

Dandelion

It is often accompanied by one of the earliest spring flowers, the lesser celandine, with its star-shaped glossy buttercup-yellow flowers and heart-shaped dark green leaves. This flower likes dampish conditions and often grows in large patches, forming a bright yellow carpet when the sun is on it, but tending to close up in shade.

Less conspicuous are the various different species of blue speedwells, the sweet violets and the small pink flowers of herb Robert. With its pungently scented leaves and delicate foliage herb Robert is a wild cranesbill geranium, commonly found in shady areas.

Herb robert

Herb Robert

speedwell

Speedwells

And of course, the stars of spring, the wood anemones, bluebells and primroses which,  along with these lesser gems, carpet large areas of Exbury and are a true sight to behold.

Bluebells

Bluebells

Wood anemone

Wood anemones

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‘A truly fantastic day out. My wife and I were bowled over by the amazing spring colours of rhododendrons and azaleas and there was literally colour everywhere. There are beautiful areas to walk through as well as places to sit. We took a picnic in the hope of being able to sit by one of the ponds and were not disappointed – the reflections were as spectacular as the real thing! The next thing we want to do is return in the autumn to see the colours change as it must be beautiful’

David Parker, Christchurch

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