When you are out with your children do consider taking some strong scissors or secateurs and asking them to help you to choose a few twigs to bring into the classroom.
When you look at them closely you realise that twigs come in so many different shapes and colours. The leaf buds and the flower buds are arranged differently on different types of plants. Look at the lovely green zig zagging of the Kerria Japonica twigs (these are often called Batchelor’s Butons). To the right of the bunch is a stem of Forsythia, the buds are arranged in pairs along this straight twig; it looks very brown and boring!
However, bring them inside and put them in a vase of water and all of these twigs may have a surprise in store for you. Why don’t you try it?
Today I also brought in a Hazel twig; it is already in flower. The catkin is the male flower and it dangles down so that it’s pollen is caught by the wind and taken to fertilize the female flowers which are much less obvious. By the autumn I am hoping that this tree will have a fine collection of nuts. Not that we ever get to eat any of them; the squirels see to that! It is lovely to see them scampering around the garden though. We watch them burying them in our lawn. They don’t always remember where they have left them so you can be sure we are always finding hazels sprouting all over the place!
Have you ever wondered why the trees flowering at this time of year have catkins and rely on the wind instead of having flowers to attract insects?