Spring 2012 has seen an unusual weather pattern across Scotland with a very warm period followed by a (not unexpected) return to wintry conditions. The early warm spell brought on the Spring flowers across the country; here's a few of them:
The Primrose (Primula vulgaris) is probably the quintessential early Spring flower of woodland. The milder west coast sees flowers earlier than in the east - the open birch and rowan woods along Loch Nevis facing the sun were carpeted with these beautiful plants.
Two in one here; the spear shaped leaves and brown tufted flowers are of the Greater Wood Rush (Luzula sylvatica) and the delicate white flowers are Wood Anenome (Anenome nemorosa), again both woodland plants. This mixed clump was near Dunadd in Argyll.
The coastal plants are also coming into flower, Thrift (Armeria maritima) just starting at Belnahua in the Firth of Lorne, but still a few weeks away from flowering where it grows in the mountains.
Common Scurvy Grass (Cochlearia officinalis) was flowering in profusion on Easdale Island. The plant is very rich in Vitamin C and drives its name from being formerly used to prevent Scurvy. It's edible but very bitter!
In Aberdeenshire the Larch trees (Larix decidua) have a good show of flowers. The tree is unusual in being a conifer which sheds its needles in winter. There are both male and female flowers, the male flowers being about 1cm across and the female ones larger. These flowers will eventually become Larch cones. This tree near my house has several Rooks nests in it, the chicks are very vocal! In our woodshed a female Blackbird has decided to nest on top of the woodpile and is sitting on a clutch of four eggs.
It's an exciting time- the land is bursting to life everywhere one looks.