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.

First Swallows

My first sighting of swallows this year was on 19th April near Forston, not far from Charlton Down, along the Cerne Valley Trail.

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.

Four Views

Four views taken a few steps from Greenwood House late morning 3 May 2021 when the wind was already high and the rain was yet to come, but promised in the full clouds scudding and fitfully obscuring the sun. Remember you can click any picture to enlarge it and see the caption.

Copper Beech Leaves 2

When the new leaves of beech trees overwinter in the bud, they are neatly folded up – not crumpled randomly. As they burst free in Spring, you can see that each leaf is pleated in a regular fashion so that they unfold like the ribs of an opening fan. The leaves have silky soft hairs around the edges, and the blade shows green as well as red pigments. Later in the year the leaves become darker purple as the red pigments dominate.

View from my window 3

View from my window in Greenwood House. Unedited photographs of the opening leaves on the copper beech trees, glowing red against the dark sky after rain, in the slanted light of the sun going down. 1st May 2021.

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.

Lime tree leaves 1

All the trees around the village seem to be springing into life now, opening up their leaves and flowers, and providing us with an increasingly colourful show. Lime trees are amongst the most common in Charlton Down and this week the buds have popped and the delicate bright citric green leaves are unwrapping from the buds.

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.