Sunday, 27 April 2008

Cherry blossom, cuckoo flowers, orange tips

Yesterday had been forecast to be the warmest day of the year so far so we made preparations for a reasonable length walk to include a picnic lunch. Mindful of the fact that both of us wanted to be home by mid afternoon and that the evening was to be the AGM of our local history group we weren't tempted to drive anywhere. Apart from that there are very special places to visit in our part of the Tamar Valley at specific times of year and this is one such time to draw our attention.

So it was a walk of 7 - 8 miles that took us eventually to a favourite cherry orchard just beyond Cotehele. There was a time when the Tamar Valley had a very strong tradition in market gardening and when in springtime the area was awash with cherry and apple blossom. Sadly most of the orchards have disappeared but thanks to a few dedicated individuals and organisations many of the varieties once familiar to the Valley have not been totally lost. Fortunately the timing of our visit to this wonderful spot was pretty good but it wasn't only the cherry blossom that was to catch our attention. We are lucky enough to have more than a few somewhat damp and uncultivated meadows in the Valley which are home to that joyous plant Ladys Smock or Cuckoo Flower. But it's not just that the flower is such a pleasure in its own right but it provides a host to the Orange Tip butterfly. So the bonus yesterday was to see many Orange Tips on the wing (I notice that several other blogs are recording sightings as well) and several of these were on Ladys Smock just in front of the National Trust's Cotehele Mill. To see either butterfly or flower is a great pleasure but together makes things even more special.

Staying with nature we enjoyed seeing the last of the cultivated daffodils that have gone wild before they go over for another year and marvelled again at the rare maidenhair ferns in the limekilns at Cotehele Quay. Bluebells and stitchwort have joined the lesser celandine to glorify our hedgebanks. Nice to see some of the rarer and unrelated greater celandine on the way and also the honesty that does so well along the road fronting the river west of Calstock.

All the seasons have something to give naturewise but Spring in the Tamar Valley is extra special and we thoroughly enjoyed our stroll in these magical surroundings.

No comments: