28 February, 2008

Blackthorn blossom

Blackthorn is the first of the hedgerow shrubs to burst into blossom in the spring. A blackthorn bush covered in a mass of delicate star-shaped pure white flowers stands out like a beacon when everything else is still dark and dormant.

It's often confused with hawthorn, which also fills the hedges with brilliant white blossom. But hawthorn grows its leaves first and then blossoms in April or May, when spring is well under way. Hawthorn is part of the main performance, while blackthorn is the overture.

The first white beads appear as January turns into February.

By the middle of February they have opened into tiny white stars.

By the end of February the whole bush is a mass of delicate white blossom.

Pretty soon the blossom will fade, ready to turn into sloes in the autumn, and the blackthorn will go back to being an anonymous green bush for the rest of the year. But I always tip my hat to it as the harbinger of spring.


Gabriele Campbell said...


Sarah Cuthbertson said...

Beautiful photos, Carla. I love blackthorn blossom too - full of the promise of spring. It also makes me think how lucky we are to live in a country with seasons. And then there are sloes -- have you ever made sloe gin? I tried it once and it was delicious, even though I don't like gin!

Kathryn Warner said...

Lovely! It's been feeling very spring-like here for several weeks now.

Sarah's mention of sloe gin...now there's a blast from the past for me! I've never made it myself, but my grandmother made it every year. When I was young, I thought it was called 'slow gin'. ;)

Bernita said...

We still a month away - at least- from any Spring promise like that.

Susan Higginbotham said...

Oh, pretty!

Carla said...

Thanks, all. I have a soft spot for blackthorn blossom :-) And, yes, Sarah, I do agree about the seasons! I love the turning cycle of the year, always different but always the same. There's always something new going on.

I've never made sloe - or slow - gin. Funny you should mention it, because I met an elderly couple busily collecting sloes when I was looking for the last of the blackberries last year, and they told me they made sloe gin every year. A favourite tipple for the winter, apparently! I really ought to give it a try some day, although, like Sarah, I don't much care for gin.

"Slow gin" is rather a nice name for it! Sort of peaceful, like the Slow Food Movement.

Kirsten Campbell said...

Those are lovely photos, Carla. It's always nice to have those signs that spring is finally on the way!

Meghan said...

Beautiful pictures!

I myself find daffodils (sp?) to be the harbingers of springs. They appear in the middle of February where I am and their bright yellow blooms are a fantastic contrast to the gray sky and bare branches of late winter.

Carla said...

Kirsten, Meghan - thank you. I love daffodils too. Such cheerful flowers, like a pool of sunlight on the ground. They usually flower in March here. Daffodils always tell me that spring is here, while the blackthorn tells me it's on the way. If that makes any sense.