HAREBELLS, or Scottish bluebells are they are sometimes known, are putting on a fine show just now in the Wee County with their nodding pastel blue flowers adorning many parts of the Ochils.

It can be a real minefield when it comes to talking about bluebells and harebells. In Scotland, our familiar woodland bluebells that flower in spring are often known as wild hyacinths, while the smaller and more delicate harebells (which are a different species and flower from July to September) are frequently referred to as bluebells.

In essence, what you call them is all down to personal preference, but I’ve always known these late summer blooming plants with their pretty bell-shaped flowers as harebells. They can show variation in colour and on my local patch of hill some are noticeably paler than others.

In the past, harebells were very much a part of our country folklore and associated with magic and witchcraft, carrying such names as “witches’ thimbles” and “fairy bells”.

Down in our fields and woods, brambles are now hanging heavy with rapidly growing berries. They will soon ripen, and many birds and animals will take advantage of this bounty, including foxes, bank voles and wood mice.

The bramble is one of our most important wildlife plants, for in addition to the nutrition provided by the fruit, their white flowers in spring-time attract pollinating insects and the tangled prickly stems offer safe nesting sites for many birds.

Hoverflies are prevalent in my garden at the moment, with the delightfully named marmalade hoverfly being particularly abundant. They are so named because their orangey-yellow body stripes are said to resemble peel – but for the life of me, I can see no resemblance whatsoever.