Whilst we had some glorious weather over the Easter weekend the following Saturday brought strong winds, overcast skies and the threat of rain courtesy of Storm Hannah. It was in this environment that Steve Hallam lead the annual Spring Flower Walk into and around Hillhouse Wood. Having successfully survived the walk, Steve reported:
A bit different
This year produced something a bit different – as I was nearly blown over at one point (with only a slight exaggeration for dramatic effect). As luck would have it Storm Hannah chose that afternoon to blow some cobwebs away.
Despite the ‘challenging’ forecast I was pleased and relieved to see 22 people assemble for ‘the off’. The graveyard and adjacent track hold a varied display of flowers, each with a story to tell. I was able to show the group 13 species before we had walked 30 yards. It is always nice to show people how much there is that they would otherwise have walked straight past. Whilst things calmed down a bit after such a racing start, the track down to the entrance of the wood still revealed a lovely spread of Speedwells tucked into its verge. And I was able to explain how Groundsel got its name.
And into the wood…
Once in the wood, I was able to find a last few Lesser celandine and Wood anemones – well past their prime, but still providing some colour. In contrast, the Early purple orchids were showing well, with a good number of flower spikes. Regular readers will recall that every year there is some variation in what we see. And so, it was that this year there were several lovely Violets flowering right by the path, while last year there were none. In contrast, this year I could not find a single Lady’s smock or Bugle.
Wild Garlic Detour
As the ‘bracing’ weather had encouraged us to keep walking at a good pace, I decided that this year we would detour down to the bottom stream to see the Wild garlic. This turned out to be an effort worth making, as the group were most interested in it. It also provided me with yet another opportunity to say one thing, while ‘nature’ catches me out by doing the opposite. I explained how the garlic only ever grows within a certain number of yards of the water and wondered how this was so precise. Naturally, a few yards further along the path we found a patch of garlic growing three times this distance away from the water!
We then visited all of the three main areas of Bluebells, which were just about fully out. We felt that the display was not quite up to the standard of some years, as we could see individual flower spikes, as opposed to a solid ‘carpet’ of blue. Perhaps last summer’s drought was the reason? Still impressive, though. Finally, I was able to show the group the ‘non-flowers’ of Golden saxifrage, so easy to miss. And then also the tiny and weird symmetrical flowerhead of Moschatel, or Town-hall clock.”