As the Spring season progresses towards Summer (and I write this during a torrential rain shower and blustery winds), the flora in the Tense Towers garden is slowly changing. The Lesser Celandines are no more than patches of faded yellowing leaves in the lawn, the Dandelions have got really bad lockdown haircuts and the Red Campions are looking thuggish. Through all this time, there's been a small blue flower in the border, the lawn and the gravelled areas. I have tried repeatedly to take decent photographs of it, initially to confirm its identity and then, hopefully, to post here. But it has been in vain, either through my incompetence, windy weather or the fact that the flowers are so tiny and such a delicate shade of blue and white that the photos never seem quite right.
Fortunately, as the plant spreads and grows, the clumps themselves become photogenic, so that is where we'll start, with a kerb's eye view of the little love, framed by Dandelions and grasses.
And here is a close-up of one of those tiny flowers, which instantly says 'Speedwell' to me, but which one?
Recourse to various ID guides left me just as baffled, mainly because I don't know enough about plant anatomy to understand all the terms being used. And there are a large number of different speedwells, even in Orkney there's over a dozen. So, inevitably, I turned to social media and posted my photos to the local Wildflower group, which quite swiftly gave me the answer as Thyme-leaved Speedwell Veronica serpyllifolia.
This week, whilst mowing the lawn, I noticed a small clump of another plant, and studiously navigated around it so that I could return later, with hopes of crisp images rather sharp blades. Again the flowers were tiny, this time white, with five deeply-notched petals.
The flower shape was vaguely Stitchwort-y, I thought, which helped lead me through the ID books from Stitchworts to Chickweeds to Mouse-ears on successive pages. My best guess is Common Mouse-ear Cerastium fontanum, which is the most likely I suppose, but I'm told that it grows in many habitats which results in much variation.
In other news, the buttercups are just coming into flower... there's an abundance of species of those too.