Until July 2017, documenting the seasons of coastal Dorset. I'm a complete amateur so don't trust I'm always right. If ever you see I'm wrong - whether with identifications or in anything else - do say! Meanwhile . . . I've now moved to Halifax in West Yorkshire. Click on the link below to collect the new URL. Don't forget to follow there!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


First, an apology. You know how I was saying how useful thorns are in distinguishing hawthorn and blackthorn before their leaves or blossom appear? You know how I have to emphasise that I am an amateur and that I do my best but mistakes are bound to come in from time to time? Do you remember that massive thorn on the blackthorn post? And me saying 'Look at this impressive blackthorn thorn'?

Later than the other trees and bushes nearby . . . instead of blackthorn flowers, hawthorn leaves are now appearing along it.

So . . . I'm withdrawing that post for re-writing and will soon produce an update.

Meanwhile . . .

I've been busy over the Easter holidays. By the time I went out yesterday, the hedgerows had been transformed. Continuity lurches when you have gaps in seeing at this time of year. Blackthorn flowers are almost all either over or getting tatty. Hawthorn trees are not only leafy, their flower buds are swelling.

I'm hurtling along and come across a blast of white blossom. I can't stop to examine it. I'm meeting a friend and I'm late. It could be blackthorn, it could be early damson. (There are damson trees not far away.) They could be daffodils for all that you should trust me when it comes to identification.

There are moments when I think I shouldn't be let loose on the internet. There are others when I'm glad I'm here. Yesterday, while photographing the beginnings of new ivy shoots, a woman stopped to ask what I was doing. We had quite a long conversation. She hadn't noticed the ivy - not in a noticing way. She'd never seen the flowers. She'd not been aware of the berries. It was exciting to talk to her. I think she was excited too by the prospect of seeing them later in the year.

I mentioned too, how for people in other parts of the world, plants which for us are very ordinary are simply unknown and, therefore, interesting. Discovering this, becoming properly aware of this (because after all one knows it in theory) is one of the excitements of blogging. (I don't think I'm over using the word 'excitement'. Noticing plants may not give the adrenaline thrill of winning the lottery but I really do find it exciting - noticing plants 'for myself' for being shown something isn't quite the same.  Being the first to go into a pyramid simply must have been different from going on a guided tour.)

But meeting her reawakened me to how many things we pass without noticing - and what wonderful fun it is to find there are treasure troves of detail on our doorsteps.

Not that anyone could have missed this blossom.


What's more - I have no idea whether the ivy bud is for leaves or a flower. The pyramid beckons!

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Rowan said...

What beautiful photos of the blossom!
It made me smile when I read about the blackthorn/hawthorn mix-up, I'm often unsure of what I'm seeing so it's good to know that I'm not the only one. As for the ivy - I'd guess that it's a flower bud but a guess is all it is:)

Donna said...

Lucy the blooms are beautiful. If I didn't know what trees were in my yard I wouldn't recognize them elsewhere...it is wonderful to discover new things and I love the blooms and berries on your ivy...something we don't see here.

Crafty Gardener said...

Gorgeous blossoms, don't you wish they lasted longer. Ahhh, a mistaken identity, it is all part of the learning curve.

Toffeeapple said...

I'm confused now, doesn't Hawthorn produce leaves before blossom? Here, we have bushes that look like Blacktorn but have a slight difference in the flower - all very confusing.

Keep up your enthusiasm - it helps me along too.

Lucy said...

Hello Rowan. One year, I tied bits of tacking thread to the twigs I was watching. I think I'll have to do that with the ivy. It will soon be growing so fast I won't be able to find individual buds otherwise.

Hello Donna. I think, maybe, I should confine myself to saying I can distinguish between a tree and a bulb . . . but what's the difference between a tree and a bush? Not sure I know even that.

Hi, Linda. I agree. I'm very pleased I took these photographs yesterday. It has been all wind and rain today. I doubt they'll be looking so fresh by now.

Hello Toffeeapple. Yes. Hawthorn produces leaves, then flowers. Blackthorn produces flowers - then leaves. But when there are neither flowers nor leaves on the bushes/trees, they can be hard to tell apart. (For me, at any rate!) Once they've got going, it's fine. Their leaves and fruits are nothing like each other but, last year, I noticed there are distinctly different types of sloe (blackthorn fruit). I came across a bush where the fruits were larger than on the other bushes - and shinier. Definitely sloes though . . . I hope . . . the man who was collecting them for his gin thought so too.

PatioPatch said...

Lucy, with such exuberance, humour and observations I'm so glad you're loose and leafy on the internet. That is one big beautiful blossoming and just wondered if blackthorn and hawthorn ever hybridize.
p.s. love your phrasings:e.g. 'Continuity lurches when you have gaps in seeing'

Anonymous said...

An enjoyable post with lovely photos. I'm hoping that my hawthorn will blossom this year for the first time.
Also been enjoying reading the latest tree followers posts. I'm so glad that you did this! Flighty xx

elaine rickett said...

I love seeing the blackthorn in the hedges - when the blossom is fully out it looks like a snowstorm. Our favourite hedge for collecting big sloes has just been cut right back as it was encroaching on to the road - such a shame - the sloes were as big as damsons practically.

Mark and Gaz said...

Beautiful photos of blossoms Lucy! Your post made me smile this afternoon, and I can almost feel your enthusiasm whilst reading your post. Keep it up! As for the Ivy, I think it's for the leaves (as they bloom in the autumn?) but I may be wrong :)

Lucy said...

Hi Patio Patch. I don't know anything about hybridisation but, quite apart from them being very different from each other when bare, the blackthorn flowers will be gone by the time the hawthorn ones open. There would be little chance of cros pollination.

Hi, Flightplot. It's interesting following the various trees, isn't it? More people are joining as we go along. Trouble is, I'm pretty certain I've missed someone off the list and can't work out how to track them down. I think they mentioned it on Twitter. Twitter used to send all communications to my email address but it's pretty hit and miss now and searching mail isn't turning up a solution.

Hello Elaine. I hope you'll find a hedge of sloes as good as the one which has been cut back. One year, the local blackberrying hedges were cut back just as the fruits were ripening. It was maddening and disappointing. I was all set up for jam making and bottling.

Hi, Mark and Gaz. What an idiot I am! I know ivy flowers in the autumn. I take pictures of them then! It's just that the bud looked so much like a mini-rhododenron . . . or a peony . . . I find it hard to believe it won't suddenly turn bright red or something! Ummmmmmmmmmmmm !

Mark Willis said...

I have had some funny looks from people too, when photographing plants etc (which sometimes involves the prone position!).
Your blossom pics are certainly most impressive.

Bridget said...

Lovely blossoms...looking like a good fruit year...be it Hawthorn or Sloe. All useful.