Beech Fagus Sylvatica

Following on from International Women’s Day we thought it appropriate to recognise the Common Beech which is the Queen of our woodland trees (Oak being the King).

Common beeches are beautiful woodland and landscape trees at any time of year but particularly evocative in winter and early spring when their thin grey bark is evident and the ground is often still covered in their crispy leaves which are very slow to decompose.

In Bud

Plants need water, light, warmth and nutrients (generally found in soil) to grow. Our wet weather certainly gives them the water they need and the sun gives them enough daylight and warmth to grow. But after their winter ‘sleep’ how do they know when it’s time to wake up and begin growing again? Do the birds singing really wake up the trees?


Although they are so familiar, the crocus plants are native to Southern Europe and Asia. There they can be seen commonly growing within woodland, scrub and meadows from sea level to alpine tundra.  It is their vibrant colour, hardiness, ease to grow and ability to spread that made them so sought after. It seems odd now thinking they were not always here.

Snowdrop – (Galanthus nivalis)

With the weather still cold and the days still short it is the humble snowdrop that gives us hope that spring will soon be here. While known as ‘spring flowers’, these hardy herbaceous plants are so hardy that they often bloom in winter. They can even emerge and grow through snow due to a natural anti-freeze they produce.

White-Stemmed Bramble– Rubus cockburnianus

Having just celebrated Valentines’ Day  on the Greenway with our #LoveYourGreenway campaign we thought best to talk about a member of the rose family located beside our favourite lady of the Greenway - Jadis the White Witch!

Many of us know Rubus plants but maybe didn’t know that they are part of the rose family. The rambling growth habit and vicious thorns are a clue to the family heritage yet locally we often simply call them brambles.

Dogwood – Cornus alba

There are several varieties of Dogwood dotted along the Connswater Community Greenway all with similar growing and seasonal habits. The plant shows off with a white cluster of flowers in late spring, followed by blue or white berries after summer. The leaves then redden in the autumn before revealing the glorious red stems. It is these red stems that give Dogwood its popularity as an ornamental shrub and its extensive use for landscaping. This plant is used commonly in gardens, planted in colourful mass along roadside edge or as an informal hedge.

Gorse – Ulex europaeus


‘that kissing is out of fashion when gorse is out of blossom’


Few plants make such an impression on our landscape as Gorse. You'll most likely have seen it flowering, even if you have not known what it is. It has many common names, Gorse, Furze or Whin and from a distance could be mistaken for other similar yellow flowering plants, although it can be easily identified by its unforgiving spiny prickles.

Viburnum – Viburnum tinus

During what has been a particularly wet start to the New Year, the sight of some flowers on the Greenway is a welcome sight! Viburnum tinus is an evergreen native which has been grown successfully in the UK for over 400 years, in a climate which couldn’t be further removed from its native Mediterranean homeland or northern Africa where it commonly grows wild. At home in sun baked environments, you could be forgiven for thinking it would struggle in our cold and wet climate.


Moss is familiar for all the wrong reasons as many regard it as a weed with its strong associations to symptoms of poor drainage in a lawn- an ongoing battle for those of us who desire a picture-perfect lawn! However, with the What’s Growing on the Greenway blog, we want to celebrate moss for its positive contribution to our environment!

Himalayan Birch (Betula utilis jacquemontii)

A tree which we could have highlighted many times throughout the year as it always stands out due to its signature chalk white bark. At the start of the year when we have returned to work and stuck in the middle of a cold wet winter, the vibrancy of the white bark contrasts with the dull weather and our mood!