White Campion

White Campion (Silene latifolia) can usually be seen around the village at this time of year and into June and July although it is not so common or abundant as its related species Red Campion.

Red Campion

Red Campion (Silene dioica) is a lovely bright pink spring flower which lives on grassy banks, verges, and hedgerows. It doesn’t seem to be so prolific this year as in earlier years, partly because of extensive mowing and cut-backs in the cause of tidiness, and partly because of the weather which has had more than its fair share of extremes in April and May. Here is a collection of images taken in Charlton Down – this year and previously. I hope you enjoy them, especially if you cannot get out to see them for yourselves.

Cuckoo Pint

The flowers of Cuckoo Pint (Arum maculatum) are unusual. This plant is also known as Lords-and-Ladies, and Arum Lily. In North America a similar plant is called Jack-in-the-pulpit. The arrow-shaped leaves are the first to appear in the woodland floors and hedgerows; and this year there is an explosion of the plants around Charlton Down following last year’s good season for them. The leaves can either be plain or spotted with dark purplish patches.

The flowers consist of a pale green, cowl-shaped spathe which has a purple margin and wraps around the club-shaped purplish-brown spadix. Later, berries develop on the stalk and form a familiar bright red spike among the vegetation in autumn.

Blooming Ramsons

The Wild Garlic or Ramsons are now fully flowering in the village. For a good display, have a look for them in the circular strip of trees that surrounds Herrison House – if they survive the atypical frosts, heavy rain and strong winds that we have been experiencing this May.

Plane Flowers

Despite living here in Charlton Down for so long, and brushing against the low twigs of these trees whenever I go from Greenwood House to the village hall or the shop, I have never noticed their flowers before. I am talking about some Plane trees planted in groups around the parking area in front of Herrison Hall. Their round knobbly fruits are very noticeable, and in fact many of these still linger on the tree after winter and into spring. But this is the first time I have seen the flowers, which are often in clusters together with last year’s fruit and the newly-opened furry leaves. There are separate male and female flowers on Plane trees.

Native Bluebells

It takes your breath away when you accidentally come across a copse carpeted with bluebells. Standing on the outside, peering in through branches at ancient trees standing and fallen to the realm where only the deer reign, while the birds sing, and the sun shines, and the bright blue flowers stand tall by their thousands in dappled light.

Maple flowers

There are different types of Maple trees around the village. I am not sure exactly what they are all called. Maybe someone is good at tree identification and can put me right? The maples are in bloom this week. The flowers are bright yellow and stand out against the dark branches and the blue sky. The leaves burst out at almost the same time and are very thin and crinkled and unobtrusive for the moment. Together they crown the trees with a halo of gold. The example shown here can be seen in the Charlton Down Nature Reserve.

Apples & Pears

Compared with last year at this time, the fruit trees in the Community Orchard are slower to flower. The plum blossoms are nearly finished and the late frosts do not seem to have affected the setting of the fruits. Pear trees are now taking their turn to bloom, while the apples are quite a bit behind – mostly just tight red buds this week. The orchard is looking good. There is a pretty carpet of dandelions and daisies in the grass with patches of purple ground-ivy flowers here and there.

Sycamore flowers

The wonderful yellowy haze amongst the branches of some trees is made up of thousands of small flowers which emerge either before or with the leaves depending on the species. At the junction of Herrison Road with Sherren Avenue is a group of tall majestic trees that greet all comers to the village. One of these is a Sycamore that has started to flower over the past week. The small flowers are still in bud and hang like miniature bunches of golden grapes below the still-folded new pink leaves.

P.S. Since I took these pictures the other day, the flowers have begun to open as you can see below.

Sycamore leaves and flowers now open on some of the trees

Cherry blossoms by the bus stop

Cherry blossoms on the two trees by the bus stop in their full splendour.