Focus on Buds

Hazel buds are alternate, they are found arranged in turn on opposite sides of the stem, which I have tried to show in the photo. You have probably all noticed the Hazel catkins while you are out and about. Did you know that the catkin is the male flower and it is this that releases the pollen? These have been on the tree over winter and are now coming into flower. The female part is a tiny, and rather beautiful, red flower. It is this that produced the nuts. Try to find one when you are out walking next.

Hazel was typically used to make Wattle and Daub in buildings because of its strength and flexibility. Apparently Hazel’s fertility is now compromised because grey squirrel remove all the nuts before they ripen!

Focus on Buds

Here are some tree identification tips to help you begin to notice features of and identify trees; little things you can look out for when you are out and about.

The bud at the tip of a twig is called a terminal bud and at the side of the twig, it is a lateral bud. How are the buds arranged on the twig?

You can look to see if the buds are ‘Paired’, ‘Alternate’ or ‘Spiral’? (see below for more information and description)

See what you notice when you are out and about. Send us your pictures and questions.

Here is my Oak twig.

Spiral – buds whorl alternately around the stem

Alternate – buds in pairs arranged in turn on opposite sides of the stem

Opposite – buds in pairs directly on either side of the stem

See for a good illustration.

Dragonflies and other Woodland Bugs

Yesterday was our second Dragonflies and other woodland bugs session. The sun actually shone for us and although it was quite cool we did actually see a Dragonfly. We saw loads of woodland bugs. We found solitary bees, moths, spiders, crickets, grasshoppers and much much more.

The children were amazing, such intrepid explorers! They became expert at finding and safely catching these fascinating insects. Perhaps they will be the next generation of entomologists? They definitely showed high levels of interest and persistence.

Summer Holiday Events

This week we have been back in nature with real children and their parents! It has been an honour. These children are amazing. They are so excited by all the animals and plants, brilliant at observing and have a wealth of knowledge already. These are nature’s future caretakers in the the making.

Pond Dipping

On Sunday I had a wonderful day at Wood Farm doing a Pond Dipping Course with HNCF. So good to be doing learning in nature again. I learned so much about all those tiny creatures. Below you will see Water Boatmen, Caddisfly larvae, Freshwater Shrimp, a Dragonfly skin, as they shed these regularly, a Water Louse and Alderfly larvae. These include some really good indicators of good quality water. Thank you to Leslie and Steve Bolsover for organising it.


Hi all, I have been thinking about singing nettles this week.

Did you know that they are significant food plants for wildlife: they support up to 40 different species of insect including the caterpillars of the Tortoiseshell, Comma and Peacock butterflies. Aphids love them too so do the ladybirds which eat the aphids. Seed eating birds like Chaffinch, Sparrow and Bullfinch love their seeds. Even toads, voles, shrews and hedgehogs are attracted to nettles to feed on the insect life living on them.

Apparently, the Romans used nettles to keep warm! The nettle’s sting is a ‘counterirritant’: this means its chemicals can actually decrease pain. Roman soldiers allegedly used this effect to adapt to the colder, harsher climate of Britain – rubbing nettles on their arms and legs to help them keep warm! (

I also found out that dock leaves don’t really heal nettle stings! Watch this short and fascinating clip by Chris Packham, who explains.

Earth Day 22nd April 2020

Hi all, Happy Earth Day. I found this clip and hope it inspires you to mark the day somehow. There are lots of ideas how we can celebrate at home, on the NASA website and on line. Do share what you and your children have done, I’m sure there will be loads of fab things happening in Home School and everywhere. We’d love to see. 🌏😀🌈