The best questions are often the seemingly simple ones.
Each spring, I answer with studies of tree flowers; hazel, willow, larch, bog myrtle, hornbeam and birch. They're all about us, if only we look. Finding them close to home is an opportunity to follow them through the seasons. Male catkins are usually the more striking. But the female flowers will bear fruit; hazel nuts, alder and larch cones. And samaras, the small nuts of hornbeam which hawfinch love.
Seen up-close and sunlit, hornbeam catkins are beautiful and fascinating. Taking photographs gives an opportunity to study pattern and design, both in the moment and retrospectively. Bog myrtle is a favourite of mine. It has early catkins and I'm struck by similarities of structure and colour to hornbeam. Bog myrtle is a fragrant shrub of peat bog and wet places, bearing male and female catkins. Hornbeam. Carpinus betulus, is a majestic tree bearing male catkins and female flowers on the same tree, it's monoecious. Female flowers are wind-pollinated and develop into papery winged fruits with small nuts. They're called samaras.