St Ann’s Provincial Park

St Ann’s Provincial Park along the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, was just springing into life after a cold winter when we visited earlier this year. It was a brief stop for a picnic lunch on our way from the Cape Breton Highlands National Park to the Louisbourg area on the east coast. The park  lies on the northern shore of the stretch of water known as North Gut, and has a short trail leading to a look-off where there are views over the saltmarsh and St Ann’s Bay. We did not have time to venture very far down the trail but, even by the car park, there was plenty to enjoy.

Bright green ferns of various types were uncurling their fronds. The compacted fern buds are called fiddleheads. Particular varieties in some localities are a feature on menus at this time of the year (we tried some and they were delicious). Golden mosses covered the ground, while bladed marsh plants were breaking through the winter’s debris on the water margin. Delicate white blossoms quivered on trees of the woodland edge. The greatest delight was catching sight of a snake making its way through the leaf litter. I am not certain what sort but it might possibly be a Maritime Garter Snake.

Flowering fields at Charlton Down

Yellow flowering oilseed rape crop in spring

The weather was very changeable but it was still a lovely spring afternoon for a walk up the hill to the barn. It is a good viewpoint up on Charlton Down, looking over the gentle rolling hills of arable farmland. I haven’t been along that path for some time and it was amazing to see the difference in the surrounding fields.  The young oil-seed rape plants that I had seen as raindrop-covered seedlings last December were now hip-high and covered in clusters of faintly scented yellow flowers. The grey skies broke with the brisk breeze and clouds scudded across the blue sky, making fast-moving shadows over the rural scene. The agricultural machinery parked by the barn remain a constant while everything around changes by the moment, with the weather, and through the seasons.

Evening Walk at Charlton Down

Stile by an old horse chestnut tree on the Cerne Valley footpath

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 1 – A stile by an old horse chestnut tree on the Cerne Valley footpath near Charlton Down seen in fading evening light.

Everything looks different on a country walk seen in late evening light. Budding horse chestnut trees with fast-opening sticky buds and crumpled new leaves are silhouetted against the clear moonlit sky. White blackthorn blossoms in the hedgerows and rows of cut maize stubble reflect the last rays of the sun. Blue-green shoots of spring wheat can still be made out in the fields as the sun disappears; and trees by the stream retain a faint glow when the sun finally goes down. In the quiet of the dusk, the burbling of the river mingles with birdsong and the dark surface water riffles and eddies over beds of water crowfoot as it makes its way downstream.

Opening sticky buds of a horse chestnut tree catching the last rays of sunlight

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 2 – Opening sticky buds of a horse chestnut tree catching the last rays of sunlight along the Cerne valley Trail near Charlton Down.

Maize stubble in late evening light

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 3 – A patch of maize stubble glows in the last of the light in a field by the Cerne valley Trail near Charlton Down.

Stile in a hedgerow leading from pasture to wheat field

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 4 – A rural scene of a stile in a hedgerow leading from pasture to wheat field in the Dorset countryside

View of spring wheat field and hedgerow at dusk

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 5 – View of spring wheat field and hedgerow at dusk in the English countryside

Blackthorn blossoms in an English hedgerow glowing in the light of the evening sun

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 6 – Blackthorn blossoms in an English hedgerow glowing in the light of the evening sun

Thin twigs of blackthorn with blossoms viewed against the night sky with moon

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 7 – Thin twigs of blackthorn with blossoms at the top of the hedgerow viewed against the night sky with rising moon.

Field of spring wheat just as the sun disappears below the horizon

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 8 – The details of a field of spring wheat can still be made out as the sun disappears below the horizon along the Cerne Valley Trail.

New shoots of spring wheat

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 9 – The blue-green blades of new shoots of spring wheat can still be discerned in the fading light along the Cerne valley Trail.

River view just as the sun goes down

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 10 – View of the River Cerne looking upstream just as the sun goes down. The tracery of branches in the tree bending over the river still retains a tinge of golden light from the setting sun.

Dark swirling waters of a river at dusk

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 11 – The surface texture of the water in the River Cerne at dusk seems dark and intense.

Dark swirling waters of a river at dusk

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 12 – The dark swirling waters of a the River Cerne at dusk seem to bubble and boil as they flow over Ranunculus beds.

Dark swirling waters of a river at dusk

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 13 – Dark swirling waters of a the River Cerne at dusk form small whirlpools and eddies as the flow hits the bends

Bare branches of horse chestnut tree with leaf buds against an evening sky with moon

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 14 – Bare branches of horse chestnut tree with leaf buds against an evening sky with the rising moon

Folded horse chestnut leaves emerging from a sticky bud

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 15 – Folded horse chestnut leaves emerging from a sticky bud

Leaves unfurling from a horse chestnut sticky bud

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 16 – Leaves unfurling from a horse chestnut sticky bud.

Bare branches of a horse chestnut tree with opening leaf buds silhouetted against the late evening sky

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 17 – Bare branches of a horse chestnut tree with opening leaf buds silhouetted against the late evening sky

Opening leaves on a horse chestnut tree viewed in silhouette against the clear sky at dusk

Evening Walk at Charlton Down 18 – Opening leaves on a horse chestnut tree viewed in silhouette against the clear sky at dusk along the Cerne Valley Trail near Charlton Down

Nitten Field – flowers for insects and birds

For the fourteenth year running, one of the ancient “Vile” fields at the tip of the Gower Peninsula near Middleton in South Wales, has been specially planted with flowers to encourage insects in summer months and to provide a wide variety of seeds for birds in winter. It is a wonderful sight. This year there is a profusion of short yellow corn marigolds beneath tall bearded stalks of hybrid barley.  When the late evening sun slants low over the field, their whiskers glisten in the golden light. Interspersed through the three acre expanse and standing proud are the large heads of dwarf sunflowers just coming into bloom right now. The pale blue linseed has already flowered and their seeds are ripening. The poppies seem once more to be elusive. Around three sides of the field straggley “stand-and-deliver”, a type of perrenial chicory, forms a wide high border. The blooms are nearly finished but the scattered pale blue flowering remnants are lovely with their spectactular deep blue anthers. The central path through the field is bordered by white wild carrot flowers.

This private field is owned by Gordon and Beryl Howe, who have posted signs around it to tell visitors on the nearby public footpaths, who might be intrigued by the unusual and colourful display, all about this conservation project – you can read the poster with all the details yourself in the gallery of images below. [You can click on the images to see them in a slideshow and enlarge them].

A June trip to Kew Gardens

Gallery

This gallery contains 32 photos.

Kew Gardens were as delightful as ever today, with a super abundance of brightly coloured flowers, many and varied flourishing plants, not to mention the burgeoning wildlife.