Downs Diary


May is a glorious month where the trees are full of blossom and fresh leaves, the meadow is getting ready to burst with flowers and birds everywhere have nests with hungry young. The swifts have returned all the way from Africa, letting us know that summer is not far off and everything is alive with activity.

The trees are looking their finest this month and many are in full blossom. Hawthorn (or ‘may-tree’) flowers are in full bloom, the mass of creamy-white or pink flowers generally come out after the leaves have appeared. Sniff the flowers. The scent is sweet at first, then turns sour. The chemical responsible for the sour part is like that produced by rotting flesh! Hawthorns are great for wildlife and can provide food for up to 150 insect species. Enjoy a blossom walk in May and see how many sights and smells you come across.

Unique to the Gorge are the Bristol and Wilmott’s whitebeams. They grow here and nowhere else in the rest of the world!  The name whitebeam means ‘white tree’.  The opening of the leaves occurs late April to early May, the underside of which are covered with felt-like white hairs.  Flowers follow later in May.


Photographs © Denice Stout