Tag Archives: Dog’s mercury

165 Bluebell cropped

The Track a Tree phenology project continues for a third year in Hillhouse wood

As keen readers of this blog, and my Mum, will know, for the last two years I have done field work for this project.  This involves visiting some specific trees (four in my case) more or less weekly throughout the spring to record data about what is happening.  ‘Happening’ stuff involves the stage of bud burst and leaf break, and the numbers of specific species of flower that are showing underneath the tree.  By capturing this data at different sites in the UK, the project enables differences in the timing of ‘Spring’ to be rigorously identified across the country and between years.  It ran for two years to support a PhD project at the University of Edinburgh, and I’ve been glad to hear that it is continuing for a third year, at least, even though Christine has gained her qualification. Continue reading

Stories that flowers flowering in March have to tell

Wild daffodil

172 Wild daffodil cropped

True Wild daffodils are only now found in a restricted number of woods, mainly in the west of the country.  It is an indicator of ancient woodland and grassland, often found growing with plants such as Dog’s mercury, wood anemone, Primrose, Cowslip, Lesser celandine, Ivy, and violets. Continue reading

Yet more stories that flowers flowering in February have to tell


69 common gorse cropped

Gorse flowers were used to make tea and a fruit wine.  Gorse was used for brushes, fuel and animal feed.  Its high heat made it especially valuable for bread ovens.  Cut Gorse was used for stock fencing – its prickles deterred animals from pushing through it! Continue reading

My first Track a Tree recording visit this year – droning on about this great phenology citizen science project

Last year I found out about the excellent Track a Tree phenology project too late, in that bud break had already started to happen before my first visit to our local Hillhouse Wood.  So this year I was determined to start early enough to catch this when it first happened.  Needless to say, I nearly failed – I had meant to go early last week but my disorganised lifestyle did for that. Continue reading

My first Track a Tree field work visit – needless to say things did not go as expected. Part 2

In which we re-join our hero as he grapples with the challenge of selecting an Ash tree.

Eventually I had six more or less blemish free Ashe trees to roll the dice over. (Actually, bearing in mind that wood floors don’t really facilitate rolling dice, and that bringing the household games dice back covered in gunk would not go down well, I adopted an aerial spinning flick technique.) And the winner was …. number 4. Continue reading

Why the Naturetale app is good at identifying stuff (and why this has little to do with me)

Even something as apparently straightforward as the development of a flower and berry information app needs a range of expertise to bring it to fruition.  We identified early on that someone who knows the first thing about plants might be an advantage.  And so we have been very lucky to retain the services of a certain Dr. Richard Jefferson.  Dr. Jefferson, or ‘Richard’, as we tend to call him is one of the most pre-eminent botanists who was in my year group at school.  Or, at least, the most pre-eminent who is still prepared to talk to me.

As this typical pose demonstrates, botany’s gain is Hollywood’s loss.  Harrison Ford et al will be forever relieved. Continue reading