Signs of Spring in Wild Wivenhoe

The signs are there! Buds swelling, the first flowers bursting, and insects emerging…while we may still be plunged into the depths of cold, all it takes is a little bit of sun to stir Spring into life.

Along Cutthroat Lane today, the Butcher’s Broom flowers – small, unassuming, but beautiful – are bursting from their buds in the centres of the sharply pointed ‘leaves’; while the berries from the class of 2017 shine bright even in the deepest shade.

Although not everything red and shiny is part of the plant: Seven Spot Ladybirds are emerging from their winter torpor to take up their task of making inroads into aphid populations.

The first Red Dead-nettles are flowering, a favourite source of food for the first bumblebees..


…while on Barrier Marsh, damp hollows are filling up with the newly-germinated rosettes of the annual Hairy Buttercup.

An escape from cultivation, Greater Periwinkle is starting to flower in hedgebanks now. Often mistaken for its smaller relative the Lesser Periwinkle, to separate them look for the fringe of hairs round the edge of Greater’s leaves…

Meanwhile, Gorse is blooming as it always is (‘When Gorse is in flower, kissing’s in season’), although the sun’s heat isn’t yet sufficient to release the coconut fragrance. But they do look lovely, especially mingled with the hairy, almost singed-looking buds.

And Hazel, tantalising with its promise of Spring since before Christmas, is still going strong, the dangling male catkins releasing pollen, while the tiny red female flowers await their fate on the wind.