Stella’s May

Button to chin till May be in,
Cast not a clout till May be out.
[Best wait!]

If you change in June you change too soon,
Change in July? You’ll catch cold bye and bye.
Change in August if you must,
But be sure to remember, change back in September!

The ancient sages were nothing if not pessimistic, and who can blame them, the weather lately has change from one hour to another!

One saying I have found, as I said earlier, very reliable So many fogs in March, so many frosts in May. So watch out, for March has had many mists and fogs, some in the first weeks when Buchan has a cold spell: 9 – 14th May.

On a cheerful note – When Mulberry tree begins to shoot, the last frost has gone. Have you a mulberry tree?
(There are Mulberry trees in the gardens of Grimsthorpe Castle – Ed)

May, the month of flowers – yellow buttercups, cowslips, dandelions, laburnum, blue speedwell, ground ivy, bluebells, dog violets. The horse chestnut pyramids of bloom, may blossom, apple and cherry blossom, mountain ash, lilac all scent the air.

The second Sunday was Chestnut Sunday when the horse chestnut trees were in bloom. This was celebrated by the Quakers in memory of the Pilgrim Fathers. In Lincolnshire, we have Tulip Sunday and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is 24th – 28th May.

I miss my walks in the woods and fields but it is amazing what you can see from the kitchen window. My long garden is full of wild life occasionally disturbed by cats or my dog, but the birds seem to understand the dog will not hurt them and ignore her completely, feeding within feet of her.

I have a flock of sparrows – about twenty which swoop in twice a day for food, they love sunflower hearts. This morning, I watched a tiny mouse which came to feed under the feeder.

Later, what I thought was a mouse turned out to be a wren amidst the snowdrops in the border. I am sure we have far more wrens in our gardens than we ever see.

If I am late feeding the birds, a robin comes to the window to remind me! It sits on the dustbin under the window looking in!

I have a pair of robins although I cannot tell the male from the female as their plumage is the same. Sometimes they come together to feed. One morning she fluffed out her feathers whilst he serenaded her. His head was held back, all his feathers were flattened and his tail elevated so that the tip pointed forward.

He sang and sang, swaying to and fro. His audience stood motionless and watched. Then he fed her with some mealworms from the feeder.

Robins do nest each year in my garden. The maximum recorded lifespan of the robin in the wild is eleven years, so although few achieve anything like that, I hope “my” robins will be around for a few more years.

Blackbirds also nest in my garden only yards away from my window in a jasmine shrub on a wall.

What a dull world it would be without our birds and their songs.

This is the weather the cuckoo likes,
And so do I!
When showers betumble the chestnut spikes
And nestlings fly
Thomas Hardy

May 2nd and 30th are the two Bank Holidays this month, so I hope the weather is kind especially then.

We have a new moon on the 6th and a full moon on the 21st May. May 5th is Ascension Day and May 15th is Whit Sunday or Pentecost. Trinity Sunday follows on May 22nd.

Gardens now demand our time and lawns require regular mowing. How good it is to be out and active, but also to find time to sit in the peaceful surroundings of nature and relax.

When did you first see this year swallows, swifts, house martins or butterflies or hear the cuckoo??

Stella’s April

April with its sunshine and showers
Gives us rainbows and many wild flowers.

This morning early the house was lit up by the beautiful red eastern sky, but not a good sign, for rain was sure to follow – and it did.

Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight,
Red sky at morning, shepherd’s warning.

The Bible version, St. Matthew chapter sixteen – When it is evening, you say “it will be fine weather, for the sky is red.” And in the morning “it will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.

‘Rain before seven, stop before eleven.’
‘April weather, rain and sunshine together.’

Sometimes a prolonged winter seems to turn into summer overnight – ‘When winter meets summer it foretells a hot, dry summer.’ ‘The weather in the second half of April foretells the summer.’

Flowers on some trees often go unnoticed, but the flowers on the blackthorn which dominates April, tiny white flowers, cover the hedges like snow. Later they are scattered like confetti in the grass below.

If it blossoms before the leaves appear it will be bitterly cold, possibly with snow – Yes, SNOW! But whenever it flowers expect a cold spell – Blackthorn Winter.

Alexander Buchan forecasts a cold spell
11th – 14th April.

Bluebells are at their peak by the end of April in most regions. A member of the lily family, they are sometimes called wild hyacinths. Enjoy them while you can and reflect on the fact that the sight is unique to the British Isles.

Nowhere else do they form such bold swathes of misty blue, the long dangling bells are a bright, shiny blue.

When they are all in bloom, the trees will look for a few weeks as if they are growing out of blue lakes. Bluebells are found on railway embankments, under hedges and on patches of waste ground – usually where these places were once woodland.

Spanish bluebells, which are a different species, have been introduced in this country and in many places now grow wild. They have more violet-coloured flowers and a straight stalk.

They also cross easily with our native bluebells and gardeners are being discouraged from planting Spanish bluebells. We want to keep our own distinct flower.

There is so much to see and hear in April.

Look out for the first swallow – it is said to be good news if you see one before April 16th. Aristotle said “One swallow does not make a spring, nor does one fine day” but both are very welcome.

The house martin too returns to our villages, the nightingale to woodlands and the cuckoo to fields and woods. More colour is added to our gardens by the butterflies – the orange tip is a common April butterfly.

The bumble bees are also very active collecting nectar and pollen from spring flowers. They are all queens at this time of the year and rear their first broods in their nests underground.

We have a New Moon 7th April and a Full Moon 22nd April.

April 23rd is St. George’s Day and William Shakespeare’s birthday. St. George is the patron saint of England – so often forgotten unlike St. Andrew, St. Patrick and St. David, patron saints of Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

April 21st is the 90th birthday of our Queen;
April 21st – 24th is the Harrogate Spring Flower Show and April 24th is the London Marathon.

Peter Harrison R.I.P. once sent me this poem he called ‘Spring’ to cheer us up:

An April sky o’er violets blue,
Bright kingcups of a golden hue,
Shining beside a shady brook,
That murmurs through a mossy nook.

A hedge pale green with budding may,
A willow wren, who at his play
Takes music from the joyful stream
To put to song a fairy’s dream.

A curlew’s cry at early dawn,

A blackbird on a dewy lawn,
The speckled jewels in a thrush’s nest,
The fresh spring breeze that blows from the west,
Oh the beauty and joy of the world at its best.

Stella’s March

March Many Weathers

January brings the snow – well it did!
February brings the rain – will it?
March brings breezes loud and shrill,
Shakes the dancing daffodil.

When March comes in like a lion,
it goes out like a lamb.

This is probably the most well-known weather saying, and when March does arrive with roaring winds, how we look forward to a mild departure!

March is still Winter until the 20th, the Spring Equinox which is also Palm Sunday, reminding us that Easter Sunday is only one week away on March 27th. The weather in March does influence the coming months as many sayings tell.

March winds and April showers
Bring forth the May flowers.

Fogs in March – Frosts in May.

The fogs and mists in March come with the east wind blowing off the North Sea. Once the wind gets easterly in March it often stays there until May when it brings frosts. This saying is very reliable I have found.

Summer Time, when we put our clocks forward one hour, is also on Easter Sunday, 27th.

In our mild autumn last year we saw daffodils, daisies, snowdrops and other flowers including geraniums and various garden flowers.

March really does welcome the flowers – pansies, snowdrops, aconites, crocus, daffodils, primroses, violets and wood anemones or ‘wind flowers’ – delicate white flowers hanging from dainty stalks, closing their petals at sunset.

On the hedgerows the white flowers of blackthorn look like snow, but the gardens are bright with yellow forsythia, mahonia and purple-red daphne.

The birds are searching for nesting sites, and while the redwings, fieldfares, and snipe begin their journeys northwards, the wheatear and chiffchaff return to our downs and woodlands.

Our faithful friends are getting their bright spring plumage. Once extinct in England, red kite were released in the Midlands in 1995.

 

Now they are a common sight over our villages. As they feed on carrion they are not a threat to game birds. These beautiful birds with red forked tails are easily recognised as they hover over the countryside.

Over the land freckled with snow half-thawed
The speculating rooks at their nests cawed.
And from the elm-tops, delicate as flower of grass,
What we below could not see, Winter pass.
Edward Thomas

If you want a short-term weather forecaster look for the mole. When it starts to be active and you see fresh molehills, then you can expect a week or so of warmer weather.

Field mice scurrying about, on the other hand, are a sign of bad weather to come; they are storing food.

March tends to be one of our driest months and we remember

A peck of dust in March is worth a king’s ransom.

March has several special days starting with St. David’s Day, March 1st, celebrated by the Welsh. March 6th is Mother’s Day, a day that certainly should not be forgotten. March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day, said to bring warmer weather and many Irishmen wear a bunch of shamrock in their buttonholes in honour of their patron saint, Patrick.

If March comes in all stormy and black
She carries the winter away on her back.

Well, we must wait and see, for this is not always true!

Frogs and toads have made their journeys to the ponds of their choice, to leave their jelly coated egg-spawn. The bats, hedgehogs and the rare dormice are still fast asleep and will not wake until the end of the month, or the beginning of April.

And the spring arose in the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.

                                                P.S. Shelley

Stella’s 2016: February

February Filldyke, be it black or be it white;
But if it be white, ’tis better to like.

Writing this in December, I keep thinking ‘Where is Winter?’ Record temperatures over December and Christmas have extended Autumn. Winter officially starts 22 December.

February was the time when farmers cleaned out ditches and dykes ready for the inevitable rain – or snow. Many people in the north of England have been flooded so many times this Christmas, suffering greatly from the terrible damage – we feel for them.

Continue reading “Stella’s 2016: February”

Stella’s 2016: January

January brings the snow,
Makes our feet and fingers glow.

“Omega and Alpha” as the carol goes, the last and the first. We think of the old year dying and the new year dawning, endings and beginnings, and it is good sometimes to leave some events behind and make a fresh start. But the world of Nature works more in circles or cycles. Wood pigeons were nesting in November when I found their egg shells.

Continue reading “Stella’s 2016: January”