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crocus

Signs of Spring – crocuses in Bute Park, Cardiff, at the end of February, 2015

I wasn’t planning on posting today, until the husband asked “Why is February so short?” Had I never asked that myself? Anyway, I had to find out in a hurry, as the days were running out and today was going to be March 1, marked as our St David’s Day here in Wales.

The history of calendars is ever so complicated, so I don’t think for a minute that what I am about to say is “correct”, but it’s my interpretation of what I found online, including Wikipedia and various question-and-answer forums.

The main point Continue Reading »

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Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris) at the base of a postbox

Lucy Corrander, over at the Loose and Leafy blog, has a section in which she features wild plants growing on town and city streets. So this post is for her!

I see these plants most days but only rarely take pictures of them. This is Llandaff Road in Cardiff, a traffic-busy street lined with houses and small front gardens, plus a few shops and former institutions. Here are the best plants I spotted in the space of about half a mile on a late-February morning. I suppose the traffic keeps the street quite warm. Any help with the identification gratefully received…
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Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) on the roof, February 8, 2015

I have written before about grey wagtails – see my post from November 2013 (can it really be that long ago?) – but they are such a rarity here that I like to mark their appearances.

I only ever see grey wagtails on the neighbour’s moss-covered roof and it is usually on a clear, cold day at the beginning or end of winter. I know they Continue Reading »

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Any guesses about the species yet?

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After much wandering in Cardiff’s Bute Park Arboretum (see my last post), I’ve decided on my tree to follow for 2015 as part of Lucy Corrander’s Loose and Leafy project.

It’s one I hadn’t seen before. It’s not a native tree, and the crown is very high so I may need to do a lot of zooming in with my camera, but it is a champion among trees, or so it says on the label kindly put there by the arboretum people…

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A London plane (Platanus x hispanica) in Bute Park, Cardiff, in January

Last year I kept track of a hornbeam in Llandaff Fields in Cardiff, as part of Lucy Corrander’s wonderful tree following project, revisiting it every month and totally falling in love with the specimen that chose me. In January I have been searching for a new tree for 2015.

While Llandaff Fields are full of more-or-less native species, the Bute Park Arboretum in the centre of Cardiff, behind the castle, has many exotics alongside some champion native trees. I decided to explore, as I don’t know the park very well at all.

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Succulent cockles – this image is from the Jose Andres Foods website

Although this post is about where the saying “warming the cockles of my heart” comes from, it is also all about cockles – and my most memorable food moment of last year. It’s hard to believe, but that highlight was a small bowl of the most wonderful cockles I have ever seen.

It was late July and we were at the Guildhall Tavern in Poole, Dorset, one of our favourite French restaurants. The cockles on offer as a starter were so fresh, said our host Severine, that they were not even on the menu yet. Continue Reading »

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Fallen Alaskan birch in Bute Park, Cardiff

I went to Bute Park in the centre of Cardiff looking for a tree to follow in 2015, but I found this very sad sight – a wonderful “champion” tree felled by recent gales. I grieve a little every time I see a fallen tree and there were several big ones down this month.
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