And now the butterflies…

This has been, (so far), one of the loveliest April’s I can remember. I know memories are short, deceptive and often just plain wrong. But I know 2003 and 2012 both had amazing April’s.

2003 I spent most of in either Pembrokeshire or Devon and Cornwall – which, to be honest would transform the shittiest April into something special.
2012, it was mainly Begard, Brittany.

Anyway… this one has been (so far], almost perfect. And the butterflies have played no small part. So I give you:

A Large Tortoiseshell no less!

Taken on the 17th of March, the first day back after the winter. In the porch, wanting to get out… I snapped it because it was the first butterfly of the season. Not because I knew it was a Large Tortoiseshell, and yet… there was something about it that gave me pause…

I only revisited the photo in light of an ongoing much discussed influx of Large Tortoiseshells to the UK. And, yes it is/was. My butterfly season got off with a huge bang, and I almost didn’t notice.

Male Orange Tip. There’s a lot of their preferred plant, Cardamine pratensis here, but not normally on my doorstep! However, the plant is somehow there and the butterfly found it…

Speckled Wood. I have a soft spot for but them, but as they’re so common here it sometimes means I just dismiss them by saying ‘Oh it’s just a Speckly…’ That’s not fair. They’re a reliable, beautiful, feisty, but not aggressive, little butterfly with real character.

Green-Veined White. No one says this is their favourite butterfly. But they don’t try to kill it obsessively like they do the Small and Large Whites. Probably because you need to really look to see the difference…

Green Hairstreak.
This is special for me. Not super uncommon. But it’s not something you would see outside its preferred habitat. Here it’s gorse and broom, and damp-ish valleys. Plenty of those here.

My first encounter with this butterfly was in North Devon/North Cornwall… the deep valleys/fissures walking the Coast Path. In April and May. Sunny, warm but then a downpour. A damp-aired environment…

To have them in the garden here’s a joy. Tiny, aggressive, combative things, but strangely relaxed and ready for a photo opportunity when the time is right!

Purple haze…. and I can Sing a Rainbow…

The purple haze is provided by the Early Spotted Orchids growing in the far side of the field next to the garden. It’s a bit of the field that, since we arrived was never cultivated. It was cut to keep down the weeds and the Willow which pops up at the first opportunity. It’s damp there… as well as the Willow there’s Ragged Robin and Ladies’ Smock. And where there’s Ladies’ Smock (Cardamine pratensis) there are Orange Tip butterflies. More about them in my next post.

But here is the song:

Red – Sparaxis – a rogue corm that somehow didn’t get eaten by voles. I didn’t notice it until it flowered.

And Yellow… I’m not sure what this plant is. I think the variety is ‘Little Leo’ but other than that… a blank.

And pink… well this is a seedling of Candelabra Primula now two years old. And a real stunner. I’m still waiting to see what others from the batch turn out like. If they’re halfway as good as this one I’ll be happy. (And green…)

Orange… Calendula. Self sown pot marigolds. Never enough of them in the garden. My fault as they’re very easy!

And Purple…. Iris ‘Franz Hals’. I know their flowering season hardly justifies a place in the garden; two days and they’re finished! But for the two days that they’re there… perfection.

And Blue. Much more reliable. Perennial Cornflower. Centaurea. Actually looking rather purple. I should scrabble and find some Forget me nots…

Green is missing, only it’s not, as it is the Limey fizz uniting all these other colours at the moment. It’s everywhere. Even the most mundane weed in its spring green freshness is appealing right now.

I can definitely sing a rainbow too…


It’s that precious time of year when the garden is full of potential; nothing has disappointed, gone wrong, been voled or not been planted or looked after… In fact, it’s all waiting to happen. And the madness of Spring hasn’t yet overwhelmed me and I can look at all these lovely things without thinking, ‘help, if I stop for five minutes I’m going to lose control!’

So, here are some lovely things I’ve been looking at:

The first swallow arrived yesterday. I got a glimpse of it sitting on the wires over at my neighbour’s, perhaps 50 metres away. My lovely new camera let me zoom in and take this photo!

All these Primulas are at there absolute best at the moment. The first is a random cross that appeared in the garden and that I’ve been splitting and planting around. The last three are ‘special’ doubles which have finally got to be enough of a size to think about splitting and increasing.