April is blossom time. After a dull. wet prolonged winter it is a delight to watch the gradual opening of blossom in variety and enjoy the myriad colours, albeit fleetingly for some.

Apart from ground-hugging golden celandine, coltsfoot and dandelions, the yellows of early spring are now being replaced by pink and white, including ornamental cherry, cherry plum, magnolia and later in he month, hawthorn or 'May'.

Most notable among the blossom trees is blackthorn or sloe, seen as individual trees or more likely forming dazzling white hedgerows impenetrable to livestock and a haven for nesting birds.

Blossom often occurs in March at a time when bitter east winds may blow and a cold spring was traditionally known as a 'blackthorn winter'.

The wood can be used for walking sticks and the Irish shillelagh or cudgel.

Sloe berries ripen in autumn and gin is prepared by steeping them in gin. Jam and wine can also be made.

Blackthorn blossom is a vital nectar source for early insects especially butterflies, bees and the dainty bee-fly.

Male peacock butterflies set up territories alongside blackthorn hedges, perched on the ground, wings open to absorb the sun ready for a quick getaway and await the arrival of a female stopping to sip nectar (pictured) or chase off a rival male.