First Wintry Walk Of 2018: To Darwen Tower

Brambles and moss, covered in frost

A New Year’s walk up to Darwen’s Jubilee Tower has become a tradition. I’ve been a little under the weather over the holidays (just a nasty cold), so when we finally took the plunge, it felt extra-good to brave the fresh, winter air and get out for some exercise.

Darwen Tower

Darwen Tower may look warm under the glow of late afternoon sun, but anyone who has ever made the climb will vouch for the wind chill factor up there, even on a summer’s day. Continue reading “First Wintry Walk Of 2018: To Darwen Tower”

Air Potato Vine Leaves

Green leaves against a blue sky

The air potato vine (Dioscorea bulbifera) is a vigorous plant that can be hard to shift from the garden once it takes over. While it may become a menace, the veined, heart shaped leaves are very decorative backlit against a blue sky. This plant was tumbling over a bottle tree in Jackson, Mississippi.

A Carpet of Leaves And A Much-Loved Dress

Leaves carpeting a woodland floor
Leaves carpeting a woodland floor: ivy, geranium and hellebore

I couldn’t help noticing this pretty mix of leaves – their colours and textures seem more like a design than purely accidental. The feathery leaves are Herb Roberts (Geranium robertianum), looking their best in autumnal colours; the glossy leaves are some form of hellebore and the veined ones, ivy. Spent pollen stalks have added their forms to the mix.  Continue reading “A Carpet of Leaves And A Much-Loved Dress”

Woodland Plants: Erythronium dens canis

Erythronium dens canis (dog's tooth violet)

This little gem – Erythronium dens canis – grows wild in favoured places across Europe. You might come across them in dappled shade on the edge of UK woods, pushing their way up through leaf litter, but there is probably more chance of finding them in a major garden or a spring plant and bulb catalogue.

Common names include dog’s tooth violet and trout lily. If you were wondering, dog’s tooth refers to the shape of the bulbs (which should be planted pointy side up) and trout to the beautiful, mottled foliage. The leaves look like a trendy, new, mint flavoured chocolate might – thin, of course, to justify the price tag in that inverse way we’ve come to expect; wavy to give the research and development team something to think about; and with a weird ingredient for extra credibility, such as cardamom or Kaffir lime leaves or green tea.  Continue reading “Woodland Plants: Erythronium dens canis”