Friday, January 13, 2017

Field and Fen lives up to its name for once

A couple of mild winter days is all it takes for me to get out, walking up a storm, observing, collecting, and generally liking the season and the freedom to see it.

I'm reading one of Tristan Gooley's books, and getting a raft of great ideas from it, some of them even useful.
This is out in ebook form, and I'm reading it via Hoopla at the moment. I tried to give you the full link showing the cover, but Blogger panicked and said, no, no, not secure, don't go there, sigh. Very readable prose, and though he's based in the UK, his observations are interesting for other parts, too.  He's walked and observed all over the world in practically every natural surrounding, and lived to tell the tale.
I already started noticing things about trees and mud and wind that I hadn't put together before.  Anyway, if you make art, you'll like these ways of seeing, and if you like walking, you'll like his approach, and if you're an armchair hiker, it's still fun to read. Some of his tracking skills are vital for readers of detective stories, where you have to see whether there were three people or four carrying another, or whether the bike or the car came by first..

I do a modest amount of tracking at the Preserve, since you can see traces of deer, fox and other animals, from footprints in mud, and scat and munched trees and shrubs, and this encourages me to continue.
Winter is a good time to observe the effects of weather on trees, since their skeletons are in view.  Around here the effects are as likely to be those of the power company as the weather, but you learn to allow for that, too. 
And yesterday I went in search of witchhazel, and may be a little early, since there were just buds, nothing open yet, but I brought a few twigs home in the hope that the indoor warmth would push them on a bit.  They're the reddish ones on the right, which will open into tiny shaggy blossoms, red and yellow, ragged petals.
A bit of fluff from a bird came home with it, so I left it in place.

In the same glass there is another shrub, too, the one with the yellowish cruciferous blossoms, and I'm hoping that maybe Quinn, or Judy, with much greater knowledge than I, can suggest what it is. Is it related to witchhazel? different blossom form, though.  And my searches have not turned up a possible name. 

I'm particularly happy to see anything that blossoms in January, anyway, even earlier than my six snowdrops, which I hope will return this year, despite being trampled on by the builders, and having equipment and materials shoved around on their territory.  


  1. oh thank you thank you you may have prevented a divorce here

    some months back an 'expert" tree guy was up here identifying trees for us, and he came upon one tree and said, "that's witch hazel" and put a marker on it.
    My husband went out two days ago to see if it was blooming and it was, and took a photo--when I looked it up on google images it showed me Treesweet for the picture he brought me home. Witchhazel is, as you say, a feathery strange looking flower. Check out Treesweet images on google images. I think you'll recognize it right away

  2. oh thank you for this. You have either averted a potential divorce or created one; this is Treesweet.

    My husband went out walking two days ago, in search of a witchhazel tree that a 'tree expert' identified for us last fall. He came home with a photo of what he said were witch hazel flowers. I looked it up on google and what it actually was, was Treesweet, those little yellow flowers you have in the photo. we have been going back and forth about it for two days, but since the difference between the two flowers is so striking, it had to have been Expert Oops at work.
    I've learned not to trust experts for almost anything, not since the day I sent a photo of a mother owl and her baby to a guy who was a bird watcher. He promptly emailed me back and said, "that's a horned owl". I thought, where are the horns? and realized I was looking at a barred owl, and so was he.

  3. ok, Ive searched for what I found yesterday and cannot find it. Rod seems to have found a site that shows that yellow flower as witch hazel at a different stage, possibly earlier than the stringy stage.


    call it macaroni and let it go, I guess. It may be a seed setting stage, or a pre-flower stage...

  4. I had no idea what I'd triggered! But it sounds as if we're both right!off to look up treesweet now.

  5. Since I posted the pic the blossoms have opened and clearly are the ragged flowers we expected. I think the others are not petals but bracts. Seemingly witchhazel has a complicated private life, different happenings at different times. The two shrubs were close enough to touch each other. But the shrubs are configured differently, and I wonder if they're different species of wh.

  6. What a lovely post, full of all the things I love. Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment! I'll be back to visit yours soon. (and the hat you made looks great!)

  7. Positively final note on witchhazel: this year, fully open blossoms have no scent at all. Wondering why. Usually a nice gentle smell in the house. Witchhazel seems to have a complex life, so maybe it's just in a nonscented year.


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