A male Orange Tipped butterfly flits across the herb-robert, moving too fast to allow itself to be photographed. I know it’s male because the male is the only one to have the spectacular orange tips to its wings as though it has purposely dipped them in paint. At first I didn’t believe what I had seen, orange, not intricately patterned, not pale blue – and not the Small White, my enemy, scourge of the brassicas which after I’ve seen one fly past, leaves me crawling over the soil to check kale leaves and the newly grown cabbage and broccoli seedlings. Vigilance is everything unless George the cat is around. He’s being trained – to catch Cabbage Whites. But Orang Tips are different.
It is a time of insects. Around this time, and only for about a week, the St Mark’s fly appears, so named because thy are usually seen starting on their short week of flight around the 25th April, St Mark’s Day. They are strange black insects that seem to bumble around, not focused in any way. They are good pollinators and drink nectar so hopefully their week of flitting around is not too unpleasant.
The lane is becoming greener and fuller, plants and trees coming into leaf, filling the hedgerows and the field edges. Still the violets cluster in the shade while the rather sinister and poisonous Lords and Ladies appears in the damper areas. I think I prefer its other name of Jack in the pulpit. It does have other names but they are not particularly attractive.
The pink flowered plants are showing themselves now. Shining cranesbill, glossy leafed and tiny, Herb-Robert, feathery and delicate and yet robust enough to be in flower for many months of the year and, on the lane so far, one cuckoo flower. It is growing
just below the mill, vulnerable but still standing. Primroses are beginning to look a little ragged as their time comes to an end but there are still clusters of the palest yellow growing at the foot of trees.
At the top of the lane where the water falls from a height down into the ravine the wild garlic is now in flower and the delicious scent wafts up from the woodland. The scent of bluebells is on the lane too, more subtle and yet unmistakeable. They can be half hidden until you see them flowering in a group, deep purple amidst green.
Dandelions insist on being seen. Big and bright, strong and golden they now line the lane. Among the yellow flower heads are the ethereal and delicate dandelion clocks. A warning perhaps of time passing. I now have a recipe for dandelion honey which I want to try. It looks delicious. We shall see.