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Friday, 15 May 2015

Mid-Spring

One of the things that I really like about the British seasons is how suddenly everything can change.  Not so much when the weather turns cold and wet after days of sunshine, but how the countryside can turn leafy and green practically overnight.  Every year, it makes me wonder how I missed the leaves unfurling on the trees or the buds on the flower stems, even though I know that I have been watching carefully each time the dog and I venture outside.

It seemed like only a day or two ago you could see the bare branches of the trees along this path ...



and this one is now flanked by bluebells, scattered as far as the eye can see.  I love bluebells; no doubt I read too many Enid Blyton as a child as they always make me think of fairies and other magical creatures!


The candles have appeared on the horse chestnut trees.  Usually they're high up in the branches but this one was low enough for me to get up close to.  It's a pretty flower, and it seems almost impossible to believe that in a few months' time it will become the prickly case containing conkers.


Mr and Mrs Swan have a new family.  I was sad to see last year's cygnets go, but now there's a new group to watch growing up.  At the moment, there are seven cygnets.  "At the moment", sadly, because not all of them might make it to adult-hood; according to The Swan Sanctuary's website, cygnets are in danger from crows, herons, magpies, turtles, pike, large perch, foxes and mink.  It's no wonder that Mr and Mrs Swan are on constant alert.


The house martins are back.  All of a sudden, there they all, wittering and twittering on the power lines as if they'd never been away.  I'm glad they're back.  I miss their constant chattering and seeing them swoop across the gardens and the fields.  I've often wondered if the creators of Twitter had house martins in mind when they named their company!


Look closely - can you see?  Tadpoles!  This is the best picture I could get in the circumstances - a friend's dog spotted us by the pond and came charging over to greet us.  I had to abandon my photography quickly otherwise there's a good chance I'd have ended up in the water with them!


Back in the garden, everything's moving on apace.  This happens to me every year - I think I'm in control and suddenly - whoosh! - a few days of sunshine and the plants shoot up!  These are my seedlings, now desperate for planting out.  I really must get around to this over the weekend if I can; they're drying out too quickly in their cell trays and I don't want to lose them.


The lettuce that I grew last year (and didn't particularly like) has returned to haunt me.  It's everywhere!  It's in the raised beds that I still haven't finished clearing.  It's between the raised beds.  It's between the flag stones of the path.  I have no idea how I have ended up with a lettuce invasion as I certainly didn't go flinging the seeds about willy-nilly and I'm pretty certain that I didn't let it go to seed.  Never mind, it's soon pulled up (or eaten) when I put my mind to it.


This lush greenery in my raised bed is also here without an invitation.  Now, this is my fault. These are teasels (Dipsacus fullonum) and I love their prickly seed heads and leaves which form little cups to store water for birds to drink.  I've wanted to grow teasels for years and I've really struggled to grow them from seed.  They're biennials, which means that they form leaves in the first year and flowers in the second year before dying off, so if you want a continuous run of them year after year, you have to time your sowings.  Mine just haven't wanted to grow from seed at all - until now!  I managed to get a couple of plants two years ago and in the autumn, I shredded the dead heads and put them in the compost, completely ignoring my own (and my Dad's) advice not to compost seed heads.  The compost didn't heat up enough to kill the seeds, I put the compost in my raised bed and now it's full of teasels which I didn't intentionally sow but are beautifully healthy.  I can't bring myself to just dig them up so I'm planning to move them.  I've been planning for a while now and really must stop planning and get on with it!


What else?  Welsh poppies in shades of orange and yellow ...


bluebells in shades of blue and white ...


Aquilegia in various shades and varieties ... I sowed a packet of "mixed varieties" seeds one year and these did germinate.  Every spring my garden is full of Aquilegia in beautiful colours and many different varieties.  They're different every year as the bees mix the pollens and create hybrids.  I love the haphazard self-seeded untidiness of it all.  Not for me the perfect bedding plant border (although sometimes I can see the attraction!); I like to see what nature can do for herself.


Early snapdragons (Antirrhinum).  Do you know how to make them "roar", squeezing the flower heads gently at the side?  My girls used to roar with laughter at them when they were small, spending ages going from plant to plant to squeeze the flowers, with me constantly reminding them to be gentle.  Even now, big daughter remembers how to make a snapdragon roar.  I like that.


Finally, my favourites.  Oriental poppies (Papaver orientale).  I have lots of these in my garden, in so many shades from salmon pink to deep purple.  I love the fuzzy, prickly leaves, and the large hairy buds, just waiting for a sunny day to open and let the papery petals inside unfurl in the sunshine.  


Summer isn't far away.  And as much as I'm a winter girl, I really do love this time of year.


14 comments:

  1. Those photos are wonderful! Over here we are getting reading for winter, which I love, but we do miss all the green that spring brings. Enjoy!

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    1. Thank you! It never ceases to amaze me that it's a different season on the other side of the world :-) xx

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  2. I love your garden. I could spend all day. In ur garden

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    1. Perhaps not today, though, as the wind seems to have picked up - we'd blow away! :-) xx

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  3. I love this time of year. Everything is so lush and there's hope around. Not good news about the lettuce return though...

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    1. Fortunately, I have a husband who loves all varieties of lettuce so all is not lost :-) xx

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  4. There's always so much happening at this time of year and time seems to run away before we get everything done which needs doing in the garden. It's such a shame about the cygnets, nature can be very cruel at times.

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    1. Yes, it can, can't it? Every time I walk that way I know I'll be keen to see the cygnets - and worrying that there might be less of them. Still, you never know, they might all be lucky xx

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  5. I love this time of year when everything is starting to open. Your garden is further ahead than mine, it is still quite cold here, but my blossom trees are beautiful, my rhododendrons are bursting into flower,and I have a few patches of bluebells along my path and in a shady area under a tree. There's always something lovely to find if you look for it! X

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    1. You're quite a bit further north than me so it does take longer for the spring to reach you. That never seemed very fair to me as the winter seems to reach you first! xx

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  6. Anothr lovely post. I love the photos of your garden and it is wonderful to see all the flowers gradually emerging and opening at this time of the year. I too love Oriental Poppies but sadly I lost the ones I had in my garden, when we can get our garden sorted I must get some more as they were a beautiful sight even if they didn't last very long. xx

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    1. Sometimes, if you're really lucky, you'll get a second flowering in the autumn but I agree, Jan, Oriental poppies don't last long enough! xx

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  7. What a beautiful post, bursting with spring! We're still waiting for the house martins to come back - they seem to be later this year. Your garden contains some similar plants to mine, especially the aquilegias and poppies, and your teasels will look magnificent at the end of the summer - I hope you find a good place for them. It looks like you have a busy time ahead with all that planting out, but it will be so worth it. Happy gardening!
    Cathy x

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    1. Thanks, Cathy! I certainly have got plenty to do in the garden - it's reaching that time of year where I'll have to keep on top of it or it'll all get a bit out of control! xx

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