Hello from the Garden

The Hawthorn in flower (above) heralds the coming of summer. Over the coming weeks, this pretty flower will create a spectacular display in the hedgerows and fields around the countryside. The flowers have a lovely sweet smell and there’s nothing nicer than going for a walk after a shower of rain when the air is filled with its fragrance. So look out for it when you’re out for your ramble.

In Ireland, the Hawthorn is also called the Fairy Tree, as it is said to be the meeting place of the fairies. And it is believed to be very bad luck to cut down a lone hawthorn tree in case you disturb the ‘wee folk!

Identifying Plant families

A while back, we looked at how plants belong to different families, so for example, Broccoli and Brussels sprouts belong to the cabbage family and parsley, fennel, and parsnips belong to the carrot family. And as we said, one way of identifying what family a plant belongs to is by looking at the seed leaves (the first leaves to appear).

Another easier way of identifying a family is by studying the flowers.

The Hawthorn belongs to the Rose family. And so does Mountain Ash, pictured above. If you compare the flowers on the two trees, they look identical, don’t they? Have a look.

Flowers of the Rose family generally have 5 petals and numerous stamens.(Have a look at the picture below as a reminder of what petals and stamens are.)

The Rose family includes many familiar plants, including apple trees, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and of course roses.

Even though the flowers on this apple tree are pink and larger, you can still see the similarity with the hawthorn and the mountain ash (5 petals and numerous stamens).

So, when you’re out for your walk today, pick 3 or 4 different flowers in the hedgerows or your garden. Using the picture of the parts of the flower above as a guide, can you see the petals, the Pistil and the stamens. Compare the different flowers. What have they in common? How are they different? How many petals have they? What colours can you see? Is there a scent? Record your findings in your Nature Journal.

Pick one of the flowers and draw or paint it in your Nature Journal. Using the anatomy of a flower picture above, label the different parts. Write its story ie Does it have an name? where did you find it? Did you go across the fields or climb a bank. Who or what animals or birds did you see along the way? What was the weather like? Was there a lot of flowers like it or was it on its own? Does it have a scent? When you create a story, you remember.