28 MAY 1948, Page 14


How completely the standard dates for this and that event in natural history have been disregarded! The roses, which belong to June, blazed in mid-May. That earliest of all the single roses or briars, the quaint Pteracanthus, did not even wait for May. The haws are set at an hour when often the blossom is still in bud. Some few cereal crops are as high as the grasses, which are not only very high but in full seed. And they conceal absurdly early nests. Both partridges and larks took full advantage of the early cover. The oaks were not only premature in leaf ; they are already being defoliated by caterpillar. Young blackbirds and thrushes are scarcely distinguishable from their parents. The sun, which was the author of all such anticipation, has encouraged certain forms of life outrageously, above all wire-worm, which by general agreement are in legion—at a date, it may be stressed, when an ignorant Government is ruthlessly reeommending the destruction of their most efficient enemy, the rook. A multitudinous wasp year is expected in some districts, though in my neighbourhood queens have been little in evidence. This abnorm- ally precocious spring has happily not involved the usual penalty ; the blossom for the most part, even of that groundling the strawberry, has received no punishment. With me the only sufferer from late frost has been a young walnut tree and a very premature potato or two.