Wildlife enthusiast and resident volunteer at Exbury, Juliet, describes the floral delights of Exbury in Spring:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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