THE vibrant colours of newly emerging leaves on our trees and bushes really catch the eye at this time of year, and no more so than at Gartmorn Dam, where the signs of spring were all around last week.

As I completed the loch circuit, the fresh vibrant leaves of hawthorn were particularly stunning; such a bright and chartreuse green.

Of course, it is not just the leaves that make the hawthorn so outstanding during spring, for in the latter half of May their crowns explode into a riot of white blossom.

The amount of blossom seems to vary greatly between individual hawthorns – some can be totally covered in white blooms, others only partially so.

Known as the May-tree in some parts of the country, hawthorn has for many centuries been widely used by farmers as hedging to secure their fields and mark boundaries.

The name hawthorn originates from the Anglo- Saxon ‘hagathorn’, where ‘haga’ means hedge. It is also a tree (or bush) much shrouded in superstition.

It is said, for example, that taking blossom covered branches into a house will bring bad luck. Why so? Well, probably because the stale smell of the flowers resembles the odour of decaying flesh.

Other spring native trees will be coming into their own over the next few weeks in Clackmannanshire.

Bird cherry is a real favourite of mine – the delicate white flowers are held aloft on spectacular spikes and have a lovely almond smell.

Unfortunately, the period of flowering is all too brief, the spectacular peak only lasting for a handful of days. If the wind blows and the rain falls, then the blossom quickly fades and falls to the ground.

There is plenty of floral action on the ground too with a whole host of wildflowers now on the verge of appearing.

Ramsons or wild garlic abound in our damper wood margins, their pungent smell hanging heavy in the air.

Dog violets will shortly be flowering in profusion along hedge banks. And by Gartmorn Dam I found some stunning yellow-frilled coltsfoot in full bloom.

But the stars of the moment are sun-spangled lesser celandines and drifts of pastel-petalled wood anemones that are currently carpeting woodlands throughout the Wee County.

It is a soothing tonic of yellow upon white, a promise of hope in this season of renewal.