Time to renew

We get renewal notices all the time – be it from insurance companies, subscriptions for websites, magazines, software, series of concerts, often marked with ‘Take action now‘ or some such.

Mother nature needs no such reminders or notices, renewal just happens as part of the scheme of things, and seemingly without much effort.  Right now, we’re in the midst of springtime (even though spring won’t officially start until March 21), and there is renewal all around us.  Leaves and blossoms sprout from barren looking trees, bulbs push up flowers, and there is birdsong in the air once more.

I took a walk through the vineyards, to try to experience that wonderful spring feeling.  Here is what I came across, captured for your delectation!

At the end of a path through the vineyards, I followed a little stream.  Where the stream flows into the river, there is a meadow, which is almost totally covered in wild narcissuses – such a joyous sight to behold!!

Nearby, I found some buttercups

Buttercup, also known as lesser celandine (Ficaria verna)

Buttercup, also known as lesser celandine (Ficaria verna)

The bee was having a fun time on the dandelion flower!!!

The plant below is bay laurel (laurus nobilis) –  most of you will have some of its dried leaves in your herb and spice cupboard.  Looking at the plant, it’s not going to be long before the flower buds will burst open!

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I’m not sure what the tree in the pictures below is – could it be witch hazel?

I think that the flowers below are wild rocket, a plant which grows abundantly in the vineyards, where it flowers almost all year long!  The leaves are edible, but tougher, and more pungent than the leaves of the cultivated variety.

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Of course there were daisies too – such cheerful flowers!!

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Here’s one of the many different kinds of euphorbia, which grow so well in our region.

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The leaves below promise that there will be wild tulip flowers – and lots of them!!

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These blossoms were tiny, no larger than 5mm across, and the branches were very close to the ground.  Any suggestions as to what the plant might be?

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Botany is not my strong suit – I think the flowers below could belong to a type of viburnum, but I’m far from sure 🙂

I do know what plant the exotic looking balls belong to – they are the fruits of a plane tree (platanus).

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This is most probably a periwinkle (vinca) flower:

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I could not resist taking a picture of this beautiful branch – the colours of the lichen against the bark is so beautiful!

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Here’s another mystery plant – these seed pods look a little bit like a cardinal’s hat.  Or is that my imagination??  Any ideas about the name?

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Another bee, this time on a marigold flower (calendula):

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I don’t know what the following flowers could be, but they looked so pretty!!

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I came across a small cluster of grape hyacinths (muscari), right by the path.

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The river at the Platanettes was so pretty – it will be lovely to take a dip in the cool water during the summer!

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A cornilla bush (coronilla glauca) was flowering quite close to the river.

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Here is another unknown plant – it has the most beautiful feathery foliage, and very delicate little flowers!

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On my way home I came across this explosion of pink flowers, probably an apricot tree, or perhaps a peach tree?

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Here’s a close-up of some of the flowers from this beautiful tree:

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And there you have it – nature’s springtime abundance, to be found for the looking!

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Flowers and old bones

Some of you may remember a post, written by Anne Roberts, and published a few months ago, about a walk, which we took together, in the countryside around Cruzy.  If you don’t remember the post you can find it here.  A couple of weeks ago I found myself back in Cruzy, this time for a guided botanical walk.  The walk started at the Museum in Cruzy, where everyone met up with Christine Hervier-Roure, our guide.

Cruzy being a fairly small village, we found ourselves in the countryside soon after we started our walk, and that’s when Christine started explaining the local flora.  At this point I have a confession to make:  I had not brought along my notebook to write down the names of the plants Christine showed us, and my mind is not up to remembering all those wonderful names – I’m sorry!!  I will add names where I know them or think I remember the correct name.  I hope you’ll forgive me if I’m wrong (and feel free to point out the errors)!

The walk took us across varied terrain – the vineyards had all started to sprout new growth!

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There was a great deal of excitement in our group of walkers as this plant was found:

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From what I remember, it is a parasite which lives on the roots of cistus plants.

And the excitement heightened at the discovery of this:

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I’m not sure if it is an orchid or another parasitic plant, but I’m thinking it is an orchid.

The flowers on this cistus look like they are made of crumpled tissue paper.  They look absolutely gorgeous and are completely ephemeral – they only last for one day, but they were out in abundance!

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There was more excitement along the walk as more orchids were discovered!!  All incredibly beautiful!

 

Christine paid attention to a lot of plants, and patiently explained how to distinguish them.  Here is another cistus, this one with tiny white flowers.  If I remember correctly this one is called Cistus Monspeliensis.

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At one point the sun came out, just as we were walking through a bit of pine forest.

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This fascinating flower is the wild form of salsify:

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And this is wild lettuce:

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and wild garlic:

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After walking for just over two hours, Christine brought us to our destination:  the site of the dinosaur excavations in Montplo!!  The day was the “Journee Paleontologique” and, exceptionally, the excavation site was open to the public.  It was interesting to see everyone digging away with screwdrivers, chisels and trowels.

Having looked at it all, including examining a fossil with a magnifying glass, I honestly couldn’t say that I could tell the difference between a fossilised bone and a piece of rock – I’d be totally useless at the excavations :)!!  The bit of white in the midst of the site is a protective plaster cover over a dinosaur bone, so that it won’t break up when it gets lifted from the site.

 

I wonder if the dog was employed as a “sniffer dog” to find any old bones :)??

Christine Hervier-Roure has published a book on native wild flora, which is available from the Museum in Cruzy, either in the shop or by mail order.  A new book is to be published later this year.