Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Spring in Aberdeenshire

 After the best part of five months spent away from home, it's good to be back.  Waking up to sunny and warm mornings has been a bonus; often there is lying snow at this point in April.  Spring is everywhere - the first sounds heard on waking are birdsong; the wild bubbling call of Curlews and the metallic "kleep" of Oystercatchers which come inland to breed on higher moors and farmland add to the more usual garden birdsong.

Spring flowers are much in evidence too...

The woods alongside the River Don are carpeted with beautiful drifts of Wood Anenomes (Anenome nemorosa)

By the riverbank and in the damper areas, Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) makes a cheerful sight, the bright yellow flowers set against the glossy green of the leaves.

Amongst the banks of Celandines is a patch of Butterbur (Petasites hybridus), a plant found mostly near rivers and unusual in that the cone-shaped inflorescences develop well before the leaves, in fact it often seems to flower when everything else is dormant.

Back into the woods and the first of the Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella) is flowering in sunny open areas.  The leaves of this plant can be chewed to freshen the mouth, they have a pleasant lemon flavour.  Like the Wood Anenomes it's an early Spring flowering plant, taking advantage of the light before the spreading canopy of the trees puts the woodland floor into shade.

Wood Sorrel flowers are things of delicate beauty, and it has one of the loveliest and most descriptive of Gaelic names - Feada-Coille; "Candle of the Wood".

On sunlit banks, Speedwells are beginning to brighten the grass.......

......while above them, Birches in full sunlight are just starting to open brilliant jewel-green leaves less than a centimetre long from the buds which have blushed the wood with purple throughout the winter.

Returning along the riverside, a meadow area is covered with Cowslips (Primula veris), more common here than in many parts of Scotland where its close relative the Primrose is abundant.

Even our garden has small Spring flowers - Cuckooflower (Cardemine pratensis) - also known as Lady's Smock, has sprung up from newly cut grass.  Most years the snow shovel is a more useful garden tool than the lawnmower in mid April!

...and if the frosts stay away for a while, the abundant blossom on our Plum tree bodes well for late summer fruit.

There will no doubt be some harder weather to come before Spring moves into early Summer, but the new growth and life everywhere is so uplifting.


  1. Hi Ian, such great timing - nature celebrates with you with such dramatic displays, everywhere! You will be interested to hear soon of the three-part conversion of the Ford MTOPTV to MTOPKTV. Haha! Warm wishes to you both. Duncan.

  2. Hi Duncan, it's such a dynamic time of year with almost daily changes in the landscape. Looking forward to seeing the MTOPKV tactical upgrades!

    Kind Regards