Getting ahead of myself now in the photochronicles of Covid-year nature; I'll need to go back and report on the blissful Fridays of 2021 so far when friend Cally and I cycled to Kew Gardens and back, drinking hot soup on various benches in temperatures as low as -2. That alone would not cover the more recent observations of flowerings elsewhere, not least in my favourite of all these west London havens, the Walled Garden of Fulham Palace. For me, loveliest of trees to date - apart from the Kew magnolias, slowly coming into full flower - is the plum which yields so much fruit among the beds which will eventually flourish That's the tower of All Saints Fulham beyond in the above picture, a seemingly rural scene. The scent is heavenly; the bees love the flowers.
Along the north wall nearby, there's a spaliered almond tree
and here, even a few weeks back, the bumblebees were at work.
Magnolia by the Tudor gate into the garden finally budding,
though the more spectacular specimens will have to wait for the Kew Gardens entry. I always wait for the magnolia stellata in a front garden on the nearby street to put forth its white flowers, which it had begun to do in profusion by 9 March.
There's also a good 'un in the Margravine Cemetery
but the non-Kew glory has to belong to the Chelsea Physic Garden, poplar-like in its uprightness.
Still not a great deal to be seen in CPG, though on our first visit of the year, dwarf irises in pots around the statue of Sir Hans Sloane were putting on a vivid show
and a lone grown-up in a bed near the beehives, Iris unguicularis (Algerian variety).
I've never paid much attention to hellebores below, but since being advised to pick up the drooping flowers, marvel at the markings on the flowers,
and I love them all the more knowing they're attractive to bees, out and about in CPG on 21 February.
Also in CPG, the last of the snowdrops on which the place prides itself - more for the variety than the abundance.
First blossoms I saw were on a visit to the Physic Garden on 23 February - the tree that stands in front of the big house on Swan Walk
amd a handsome Cornus mas further down the street.
Crocuses have a long life, and again the variety is something to wonder at. There are clumps among the daffodils in the walk to the side of Chiswick House Gardens
and plenty in Old Brompton Cemetery, to make up for the lack of blossom,
while grape hyacinths now flourish
and those exquisite small blue flowers known, I think, as Chinodoxa.
First true carpet of daffodils I noticed also at Brompton Cemetery,
though they're now everywhere, and especially lovely in the green between the Walled Garden and All Saints Church.
This Friday should have been another Kew cycle, on a very bright and sunny day, but Cal had booked for the following week. No matter; we crossed to the Eyot in the middle of the Thames at low tide
to walk its length
and reeded shore
while taking in views across to the houses of Chiswick Mall
before cycling on past the Eyot beach
and the grand house on the Mall with the big magnolia in full spate
to Chiswick House for soup on a bench in full sun and accompanied by thrashing bird activity on the long water below, before walking around the lake
and then cycling on to cross Barnes Bridge and take a walk around the Leg of Mutton, which will figure in an earlier Friday spotlight - an old reservoir, now a nature reserve, the existence of which between the river path and the main road to/from Barnes I hadn't know about until recently. Blackthorn blossom was the punctuating glory here
and there was something magical about looking from one, across the reeds, to another on the opposite side, seemingly a cloud just landed.
Normal service to Kew to be resumed next week. Meanwhile, I was immensely cheered to catch first sight of one of the blackbirds who usually hang about the back yard in the warmer months, on the very first day of spring. Looks like a young male just becoming an adult (a bit of speckliness remains on the breast).