Blackthorn blossom. One of the first hedgerow plants to flower, blackthorn grows widely in urban and rural areas; this was taken on the River Rea in Birmingham. If you see this blossom on your travels, make a mental note of it for the autumn, by which time it will have become dark blue sloes. These tiny, bitter members of the plum family are used for making sloe gin and other delightful purposes. A bottle of Stirchley’s finest 2010 vintage sloe vodka has done a great job of sustaining me through the winter months.