A sunny Sunday in February is a great thing. Today was warm and bright all day. The sun coaxed so many early spring flowers out – along with lots of bees and 3 microlight aircraft which flew directly overhead in v-formation, lawnmowers in the sky. Sudden bright colour after the dourness of winter. Here’s some macro shots.
This is a tiny alpine crocus, its name unknown to me.
Hamamelis .x intermedia ‘Barnstedt Gold’
Hamamelis intermedia ‘Jelena’
Filling the area with delicious scent is this Sarcococca confusa
And more delicious scent from this Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’
Wonderful crocus are emerging in some very unlikely places
Some early Narcissus ‘tete a tete’
Hellebores are still going strong one month on
I sat near these crocus and caught some rays – it almost felt like spring.
Storm Erik swept through last week, throwing fierce wind and rain around and giving us a good soaking on our way in to work. At least it wasn’t quite as cold as it has been. This weekend saw the back end of Erik; more wind and showers broken by surprising stretches of bright sun. Good weather for mulching. I spent Saturday spreading horse manure. I have a horrible suspicion that this manure is full of demon weeds – lets hope I’m wrong. The manure was supplemented with a mulch of mature wood chips – an instant make-over that I’m hoping will suppress the weeds.
Mulching is a sometimes delicate task – avoiding the early bulbs and growth that’s already starting to appear. These crocus are ready to go – I will miss them opening during the week.
These iris reticula are always a brilliant surprise, shockingly blue against the natural mulch of fallen beech leaves.
I thought these were Katharine Hodgkin, but they seem to be reverting to a darker blue – or perhaps they were always something else..
The dogwoods are at their best in the brief sunshine, shiny wet and improbably colourful.
And from a distance they’re like linear flames burning through the cold afternoon.
Another shower breaks and I rush to shelter in a greenhouse. I’ll not complain about the rain, it’s all welcome on a Sunday afternoon in February.
Cold for a few weeks now – down as low as -6 degrees in the polytunnel. A big fall of snow just up the road but nothing here apart from thick frost that persists all day in the shady parts of the garden. Today the sun shone, and although it only reached 4 degrees somehow if felt like a transition to something a little warmer.
White lines of birch against a blue February sky.
Earlier than last year, I decided that today would be stage one of the long borders preparation. This involves cutting down all the skeletal remains of last year’s growth. They’ve been looking great all winter – but in the bright light of a February morning they were starting to look a little tired. Here’s a before shot:This big clump of miscanthus will be moved in April when it warms up a bit – after 3 years it has outgrown its position. This year I used my new Niwaki herbaceous sickle – a brilliant Japanese tool made for harvesting rice and perfect for cutting perennials. I’m pretty sure that the whole process took roughly half as long as previous years – and I don’t feel any RSI in my wrists from constant use of secateurs. Highly recommended!Very quickly both sides of the borders were done, and five trips to the compost heap with the trolley completed the job. The sun can now reach the new growth for the first time. Next stage will be to clear between each plant, removing weeds and dead leaves, then applying a layer of mulch. That will have to wait for the next sunny weekend – although the days are getting longer it was already late afternoon by the time I finished.Enough time for a quick springwatch walk to check on progress. Unfortunately no residents in the Snakesbury quack house yet..Really cold in the old orchard along the edge of the field – the sun is too low in the sky to reach here until March. There’s a plum that has blossomed really early in previous years, but no sign of life from it yet. February.
Another year, another winter – now halfway through. It’s been a mild winter generally but this week has been colder with snow forecast over the coming week. Hopefully not another beast, but some cold is welcome; combined with clear sunny days almost the perfect winter weather. I was surprised to see lots of activity in the garden, but then looking back realised that it’s not any earlier than last year.
Hamamelis glowing in the low midday sun.
This auricula is very early, the only one to flower so far.
Iris unguicularis has been flowering since mid December, a wonderfully resilient and rewarding plant.
Hellebores are always a very welcome sight – these are starting to spread by self-seeding.
Winter honeysuckle fills the whole area with delicate lemony fragrant loveliness.
Bare stems of spindle, dogwood and ghost bramble, owning their space at this time of year.
Twisted hazel catkins are an early sign of spring.
Viburnum tinus – sadly not fragrant but flowering none the less.
These are brilliantly fragrant though; chimonanthus, daphne and mahonia.
There’s a very cold buck sheltering on the patio.
And a layer of ice on the pond.
The elder is looking very upright (and due for a trim).
And finally, snowdrops – what more can be said!
The first frost of the year; it seems like winter is here. On the plus side, annual weeds have flopped into mush. The last leaves are falling, revealing the underlying structure of trees. Days are short, the darkness longer every night. The best place is fireside. When morning comes the frosted garden is worth getting cold for. These sedums hold the frost well.The last of the medlars, bletted, now frozen, soon to return to earth.The long borders are being shaped by the frost.Leonotis seedbeds will persist through the harshest winter weather.Gunnera is not nearly as resilient.The weekend brought more rain which made for slightly warmer soil, so I planted some bareroot trees and shrubs: 10 each of guelder rose, wayfaring tree, bird cherry, hornbeam and spindle. That brings the total to 96 planted so far this season, with another 240 to go. The new woodland is starting to take shape..
Deciduous plants are nearing their prime in terms of colour. Autumn has as much interest as spring – if not more – with small dramas breaking out all over the garden.
I want more of these cyclamen.
It is the time of the aster..
..and the liriope.
A callicarpa (for Babs)..
Miscanthus are perfect in this light..
..and liriodendron is butter yellow against an evening contrail.
The variety of colour this year is quite incredible. Perhaps the long hot summer has something to do with it.
A good year for fruiting trees too with an abundance of berries for the birds to feast on.
Time feels suspended – if only by wanting it to be. Winter’s on it’s way but an amazing show is happening in the meanwhile. Lots to do, lots to look at too.