The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (which ran from 10th to 16th May) was ‘Connecting with Nature’. It’s something that’s been massively important to me over the years and, as I’ve written about before on this blog, spending time in nature is a big part of managing both the fibromyalgia pain (gentle exercise always helps) and also my mental health. Since childhood, I’ve always enjoyed the great outdoors and it helps to soothe my anxious, monkey mind.
Noting down what I see when I’m out in nature and trying to learn about it gives me a focus and I find it interesting to look back and compare notes and pictures from month to month. Although the weather has, in general, been pretty dismal in May here in the UK with dramatic skies and an unseasonal amount of wind and heavy rain, I’ve still enjoyed some great walks. Summer is certainly on its way, from a flora and fauna perspective at least, even if the weather might not bear this out.
The highlight of the month, without a doubt, has been the bluebell woods a couple of minutes’ walk from home. It’s said that the UK is home to more than 50% of the entire world population of these beautiful flowers and it’s a privilege to be able to see them. Just spending time sitting down and inhaling the quintessential springtime fragrance amongst the emerging greenery of the woods is a powerful therapy for a worried mind.
The roadside verges are full of colour now with the vivid pink of red campion, clouds of cow parsley flowers and purple dead nettle dotted in front of the hedgerows, which are almost white themselves with froths of white hawthorn blossom. There’s been plenty of cuckoo flowers too, especially down by the canal towpath.
One of my favourite wild flowers, greater stitchwort, is also in bloom during the month of May. Not only are the starry flowers a pretty wayside addition but this plant also brings back very fond memories of my mum reading Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairy poems to me as a child.
The bird song has been amazing too, with robins, blackbirds, greenfinches, great tits, sparrows, blue tits, chaffinches and goldfinches being the most populous songsters in the garden at the moment. First thing in the morning, I’ve been sticking my head out of the bedroom window and spending a few, blissful, peaceful minutes listening to the bird song.
As far as I can tell, there are 2 pairs of robins, a pair of blackbirds and a pair of sparrow nesting in the garden and it’s been wonderful to watch the birds flying back and forth to feed their brood, with various tasty morsels hanging from their beaks.
Out and about in the fields, skylarks are everywhere ,although much easier to hear than spot ,and I’ve also heard plenty of chiffchaffs and whitethroats, both summer visitors to the UK. I haven’t noticed as many swallows as I usually would though. I’d normally expect them to arrive from April onwards but worryingly, I didn’t notice any until the middle of May and even then it was only two birds.
The garden is starting to come to life too. I grow lots of herbs in the garden as they are reliable low maintenance and nature magnets to boot. Its great to see them sprouting up again and picking leaves for the first mug of fresh mint tea of the year is always a sure sign that summer is around the corner.
Comfrey may not be everyone’s idea of a pretty garden plant but I actually think the flowers are pretty, it needs next to no looking after and as soon as the flowers bloom, there’s rarely a minute without a bee feasting somewhere on it – and that can’t be a bad thing!