First wildflowers of 2013 (for Pontypool)

Even though the snow isn’t all gone, there are patches where the top inch of soil has thawed. That is just enough for the coltsfoot to flower, so we were treated to another sign of spring.

Coltsfoot - first wildflower of 2013
Coltsfoot – first wildflower of 2013

In case anyone had noticed that I’ve been getting more close-up to wildlife recently, the reason is a new 500mm lens.

500 mm lens
500 mm lens

If any celebrities come by to sunbathe by the banks of the Pigeon River, I’ll be ready.  But as you can see, the outdoor temperature is still only just over zero, so I may have to wait a while.

Gardening time already!

I know it probably won’t last, but 20°C weather before the equinox is unprecedented here, so I was out in the sun.  I even did a bit of rototilling, even though I hate the noise.  Luckily, it quit after about 15 minutes; usually does at this time of year as the fuel probably has some water in it after being in the garden shed all winter – it freezes onto the inside of the tank and then percolates into the water.  I’ll have to go and buy some more as there are too many weeds in this spot (the sunflower garden) and the vegetable garden, and I don’t have enough time to dig that much by hand twice, which is what it would take to get the grass roots out.

Eric tilling the sunflower garden

In case you’re wondering why the metal sleeve around the pole: there is a bird house on top for the bluebirds or swallows (whoever gets it first) and the sleeve stops mammals from getting up and eating the eggs.

There may have been a few flowers sneaked out during the week, but I was working late.  There are a lot this weekend where there were none last week.  (Stop sniggering, you people on the Wet Coast or the UK).

Here are the first wildflowers, the coltsfoots:

Coltsfoot

For those not paying attention during your botany classes, coltsfoot are composite flowers, like daisies and dandelions.  Look really close and you can see that the outside “petals” are tiny strap-like flowers with stamens sticking out at the base, and the little dots in the middle are tiny star flowers.  Each flower head for a composite is actually an entire bunch of flowers all by itself.

It might be clearer in this close-up.

Coltsfoot close up

Just three of the disc florets have opened, the rest are buds which will open soon.  You can see the circle of stamens for the ray florets just outside the circle of buds.

There are also crocuses.  I have in my spice cupboard a package of saffron.  Saffron is the stamens from crocuses.  It make wonderfully scented rice, but I haven’t tried picking my own.

Purple crocus

Last but not least, the frogs are back.  Their song is not as pretty as the birds, except for the spring peepers, but I haven’t heard them yet – they are tiny so they probably won’t risk coming out until they are sure it is going to stay warm.

Frog by the fish pond
Frog by the fish pond