The variable weather this spring has made life a little confusing for both plants and animals. Breeding and migration were put on hold when the snow came, and accelerated during the mini-heat wave. Now cold weather has struck again, interrupting all such activities in mid-flow. However, the wildflowers at Exbury are looking terrific with carpets of primroses (left), patches of violets here and there, and corners covered with wood anemones. Not much insect activity has yet been evident, but when the sun comes out that situation should improve.
One of the most enjoyable things to look for in early spring, I find, are the opening of young leaves and flower buds on the deciduous trees. Oak, beech, sycamore and acer among others all have a delicate appearance when leaves are first emerging. They are a little fragile at this stage and can be damaged by frost. Whitebeam and horse chestnut appear more robust as their large buds open to reveal flowers. Although not particularly showy, the subtle beauty of this stage (which doesn't last long) is a real pleasure and worth keeping one's eyes open for.