So welcome following a colourless winter, spring blossom is beautiful but sadly transient, all too fleeting. After three or four days of strong winds, rain and late frosts, pink and white petals are whisked away into horizontal mini-snowstorms,so bees visiting for nectar and pollen must work quickly.

Of all trees and shrubs, blackthorn (sloe) is probably the most bountiful as far as insects are concerned. Blackthorn blossom often appears as early as March during a spell of bitter east winds and a cold spring was traditionally known as a 'blackthorn winter'. It is thought that blackthorn may be the origin of cultivated damsons and plums.

Now is the time for my favourite tree, namely the hawthorn or May with frothy cascades of white and sometimes pink flowers tumbling down  to an understorey of cow parsley (Queen Anne's lace) buttercups and dandelions, all amid a riot of vibrant bright green fresh foliage as trees of all species begin to unfold, one of the first being horse chestnut with palmate leaves resembling a child's chubby fingers.

But beware!! 'Ne'er cast a clout till May be out', a phrase having been in use since the eighteenth century. In other words, do not discard warm clothes (clout) until the month of May is finished or, as some people believe,until May blossom is in flower.

No body really knows which of the two versions is correct so, take your choice!