If you are planning
a cottage holiday in Wales for the month of March, why not try and
spot the following:
Top Row - From Left to Right
1. Native Welsh Daffodil Narcissus Pseudoarcissus
The native Welsh daffodil is very rare. It is shorter than the common
daffodil but can grow up to six inches tall. It blossoms around
the end of March to the beginning of April and has light, pale yellow
petals which surround the dark yellow flower. The native Welsh daffodil
is also rich in legend and tradition. It is said to be unlucky to
bring the Welsh daffodil into the house, as it is considered an
insult to the spring. On the other hand, the Welsh daffodil can
bring luck to those men who wish to avoid baldness!
How and why the daffodil became the national
emblem of Wales has been the subject of much debate. Some say
that our Victorian ancestors decided that, when it comes to St
David's Day, we should pin daffodils to our lapels instead of
Wales’s other emblem, the leek. A vegetable wasn't considered
glamorous enough to be the Welsh national emblem, and the daffodil,
whose flowering coincides with the Welsh patron saint's holiday,
seemed like a fitting replacement. The delicate Welsh daffodil
is also known as the Lenten lily. The exact flowering dates vary
with the weather: a warm spring will prompt the flowers to come
out earlier, and global warming seems to be having this effect.
2. Welsh Mountain Lamb Ovis aries
Welsh lamb is considered by many to be the finest in
the world. Plas Farm is mainly grazed by the Welsh Mountain breed
whose lambing season begins in the Spring. As March progresses,
the fields outside the holiday cottages begin to fill with newborn
lambs. Watch them playing from the lawn in front of the cottages
as the sun goes down.
3. Wild Primrose Primula vulgaris
The 'first rose of Spring'. Primroses, flowering in early
March when there are few insects to transfer pollen from one plant
to another, successfully set their own seeds. Those that are cross
pollinated later by insects produce seeds that are fleshy and
sticky. Ants and other foraging creatures attracted by this nutritious
'packaged' food, carry them away, often over great distances.
This way Britain's 'prima rosa' is dispersed across the land.
The Primrose was used in ancient times to treat paralysis and
gout and was believed to be a flower originating in Paradise.
The flowers can be made into jam and wine. The five petals represent
birth, initiation, consummation, repose and death. Six-petaled
Primrose brings luck in love and marriage. There is also a lot
of Primrose folklore attached to the ability of Primroses to let
people see fairies. If you touch a fairy rock with the right number
of Primroses in a posy you will be shown the way to fairyland.
Row - From Left to Right
4. Grey Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis
Grey squirrels, originally from North America, were released
in the UK by 19th century landowners. They are now very common and
widespread. Grey squirrels are seen every day at Plas Farm, foraging
for food in trees and on the ground – even visiting our bird
feeders. They are particularly noticeable in March as there are
no leaves on the trees and they are very partial to the buds and
shoots of sycamore and beech, both of which grow around our holiday
cottages. Their nest, called a drey, is a compact, spherical structure.
It is slightly larger than a football and constructed of twigs,
leaves, bark and grass. Grey squirrels tend to breed in between
January and April and, if food is plentiful, they may have a second
litter in the summer. They are extremely successful and have replaced
our native red squirrels over most of the UK.
5. Pussy Willow Salix caprea
Pussy Willow, Goat Willow or Sallow is known for its distinctive
catkins that appear in March. Look out for them in the hedgerows
that surround the fields around the holiday cottages. The catkins
are an important source of nectar for early-flying insects and can
also attract numbers of night-flying moths on warm evenings. The
leaves of the tree are an important food source for caterpillars.
The wood is little used now but in the past it was used for cloth
pegs, rake teeth, tool handles etc. It coppices well and trials
are looking into its use as a source of fuel.
6. Grey Wagtail Motacilla
Plas Farm is a great place to see the Grey Wagtail in it's
natural environment. They love to nest near shallow, fast-flowing
mountain streams and may be spotted in the river and around the
farmyard collecting nesting materials and looking for food. The
grey wagtail is more colourful than its name suggests with slate
grey upper parts and distinctive lemon yellow under-tail. It is
the longest tailed of the European wagtails and due to recent declines,
is an Amber listed species.
Row - From Left to Right
7. March Landscape at Plas Farm
They say that March comes in like a lion and goes out like
a lamb. It is certainly a boisterous month as far as the weather
goes but there can be glorious days when air temperatures climb
dramatically and beautiful, white clouds move across crystal-clear
blue skies such as the day this picture was taken. Mole hills can
be seen in the foreground and two magnificent Welsh oaks in the
middle distance. The black dot in the top right of the picture is
8. Common Wood Sorrel Oxalis acetosella
Common wood sorrel is one of our earliest flowers. It can be spotted
in the woods near to the holiday cottages during March. The flowers
are small and white with pink streaks. The binomial name is Oxalis
acetosella, because of its sour taste. The leaflets are made up
by three heart-shaped leaves, folded through the middle. The stalk
is red/brown, and during the night or when it rains both flowers
and leaves contract. The common wood sorrel is sometimes referred
to as a shamrock (due to its three-leaf clover-like motif) and given
as as gift on St. Patrick's Day.
9. Lesser Celendine
Lesser Celendine, likes to grow alongside streams and in
woods. Also known as the fig buttercup, lesser celendine is arguably
the first flower of Spring. Their vivid yellow colour signals that
they are ripe with pollen and nectar. It is no coincidence that
pollen itself is pigmented yellow. Lesser celendine provides a welcome
source of nectar for mice and voles as well as for active insects
such as early bees and butterflies.