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Botany Report for 1998

by Gill Smith

Gill Smith, who is our new Botany recorder, has sent me her notes, which include rainfall and temperature records for her house in Gilling. These confirm that 1998 was a wet year – the wettest since her records began in 1990, and the first year over 30" – 32.8" to be precise. June was the wettest month of the year, with nearly 5½ inches of rain. There was a very mild spell in February, and a late cold snap in mid-April.

So Dog’s Mercury was well up by the 12th February, and Hawthorn green by the 20th. Prunus in flower on the 25th and coltsfoot and primroses on the 28th. Blackthorn was in bloom on the 20th March, with windflowers and woodsorrel, and the first bluebells were showing on 13th April, though they were not properly in bloom until the beginning of May. Trees were slow to come into leaf – ash was still not out by 14th May, and although oak was before it, it was not by much. And we got more than the proverbial splash, too!

Gill noted purple orchids, toothwort and Herb Paris at Ashberry on May 8th, with cowslips and Lily-of-the-valley. Baneberry was in bud. [I thought that there were more cowslips this year than I had seen before – Ed]

Small St. John’s Wort in Gilling Woods, 17th September

Phenology – the recording of regular annual events like the return of the swallows or the first cuckoo – goes right back to Gilbert White at Selbourne and the beginnings of natural history. Those early observations are now helping climatologists with evidence for global warming, and the records kept by members of societies like ours will have similar value in years to come.

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