// text and photography by Marjolein den Hartog


Woodland wonders

Earlier this week, I spent a good few hours in the woods near our Hertfordshire home to photograph the white carpet of wood anemones. I already knew that these delicate flowers grow there in abundance, but last year I was unfortunately too late to capture their fairy-like magnificence. By the time I noticed they were there, they were already outnumbered by another British wildflower: the bluebell (see last year’s blog post). So this spring, I kept a close eye on them these past few weeks – especially since the relatively warm weather has tricked nature into starting their new season of growing, flirting, and reproducing quite a bit earlier than usual.

The fact that there are so many wood anemones on the woodland floor is a good indication that these are ancient woods. I only learned this recently, when reading about these white spring flowers in BBC Wildlife Magazine. They seem to spread very slowly – about 2 metres in a century – so you can safely say that they’ve been growing here for quite a while now. 

Although the inner paths of the wood are closed to the public – so that nature can do its thing undisturbed – the flowers are constantly trampled on by foraging grey squirrels. And probably foxes as well. We’ve seen them around, even in our garden, and the wood has many holes that look like den entrances. When photographing the first photo in the series, lying flat on the ground, I noticed a very strong smell, and found that I almost had my nose in a fox’s latrine! Ah, the things you do to get exactly the photo you have in mind…