Photodiary    2011

April 13th: After March went out like a small lion (wind and rain on the 31st) the weather improved and we had a foretaste of summer.

Two duckling families arrived, one of four and the other of two at the time of counting. The ducklings were very tame and seemed already to have identified humans as a source of interest.

A small working party assembled to sow grass and flower seed.

Photo:  Eileen Stonebridge
Photo:  Eileen Stonebridge
Photo:  Eileen Stonebridge
Alkanet beside the lake - possibly green alkanet (Pentaglottis sempervirens: 'five tongues, always alive i.e. evergreen'). 'Alkanet' derives ultimately from Arabic al-hinna, 'henna'.         ref. Wikipedia
The ducklings we saw yesterday and a Cuckoo Flower or Milkmaids. This is food for the Orange Tip butterfly which was sighted yesterday, but not photographed. E.S.
Below are some photos of the small ad hoc working party in action on the 13th, sowing seed, clearing bramble, and supervising: Eileen and Brian, Jane, Bill and Ken.
The working party has finished, but Ken carries on working in the middle field.

These photos were taken by  John and Carole Morris on the 15th April - except for the Cuckoo Flower/Lady's Smock, which belongs to the 31st March.

"I wish we had 'scratch and sniff'. The smell of garlic and cow parsley, damp earth and warm air was lovely."

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
The drought of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Than longen folk to goon on pilrimages...
                                        Geoffrey Chaucer

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

April's amazing meaning doubtless lies
     In tall, hoarse boys and slips
Of slender girls with suddenly wider eyes
     And parted lips.

Cuckoo Flower/Lady's Smock/Mayflower (Cardamine pratensis)  has scores of different names across the country, many of them associated with milkmaids and their smocks, the Virgin and the cuckoo. Their appearance used to be associated with the arrival of the latter, in the days when cuckoos abounded.
The flowers are usually lilac but sometimes white, a feature which the folk name Cuckoo's Shoes and Stockings refers to, the shoes being lilac and the stockings white.
    (Source: The Englishman's Flora  by Geoffrey Grigson)