Racing into May

The woodbed this morning – Anenome nemorosa Vestal, Hostas and Molly the Witch

We’re positively zipping through spring, the candles on the Horse Chestnut trees are well lit and the Hawthorn blossom is coming out. The first rose is out, David Austin’s Mary Rose. The irises are all putting on pregnant bulges, I florentina is already out along with the dwarf irises Jewellers Art and Gingerbread Man.

We haven’t had significant rain for weeks and whilst there is moisture still in some parts of the garden in the soil, I’ve been watering. I’m guessing a huge explosion of mole activity will also accompany significant rain, which will be a pain.

Tulips 2017

Tulips Bruine Wimpel (Malaika) and Cairo with a badly ageing Brazil in the background!

The tulips are nearing their end, the Sarah Raven Brandy Snap mix is just finishing, although the very double Brazil has not aged well, (I seem to have had Brazil rather than Belle Epoque in my mix which actually worked better). I cut dark purple Ronaldo for the house which dulled the whole effect down somewhat. Bruine Wimpel (Malaika) has been re-assessed as I’ve been dismissive in the past in a LandScape magazine article. As she ages the backs of the petals turn a darker flecked pink with bronze edging. I still can’t really see it in the garden, it’s more of an up-close in a pot tulip.

Tulip Abu Hassan
Abu Hassan with Muscari and daffodil Sweetness

In pots, I’m liking the clean lines of off-white lily flowered tulip Sapporo and the gold edged deep ruby Abu Hassan, Red Shine is not so impressive. I liked the fat double, Orange Princess last year, this year I’ve gone off it – hey ho.

Rusty purple Dom Pedro has re-appeared in the garden again in my horrid clay soil, as has Spring Green (or is it? It doesn’t look like the additional bulbs that I added last autumn!). And Rococo in a neglected pot provided an early splash of brilliant red. Red Georgette and Ballerina definitely did not re-appear from last year.

The last daffs standing in the garden are Trewithen which have lasted for weeks, and in pots Sweetness (the older planting flowered weeks ago, this was last autumn’s batch), and Winston Churchill is not as gross as I thought it would be in flower and has a nice scent – good for pots.

Some you win, some you lose

The winter losses are now making themselves obvious. We had frosts down to -7C possibly a bit lower. And I didn’t take as many back-up cuttings in the autumn.

Ageratina ligustrinum appears to have succumbed, maybe just one of the Cestrum parqui is sprouting from the base.  A leptospermum which has survived outside in a pot for a couple of years has gone completely. The pomegranate has lost half its growth. A couple of agapanthus in pots aren’t showing any signs of new leaves, others have reduced growth.

Corvid chaos

On the wildlife front a few weeks ago we had a major bust up between 2 pairs of Carrion Crows. They are supposed to be territorial. Another pair decided to move into the next door oak tree and built a substantial nest, but after a big ruckus lasting a couple of weeks the new pair seem to have moved on elsewhere.

No starlings. We’ve seen flocks around in the winter in a neighbouring village and a flock also in the field opposite a few weeks ago feeding, but our pair has not returned. I sort of miss the grackling nattering and the lack of poo on the upstairs window from the nest under the eaves.

A Greater Spotted Woodpecker has enlarged the holes on 3 nest boxes so we’ll have to fix metal plates for next year. Wrens and Robins already feeding, a pair of Great and Blue Tits still thinking about it.

The activity on the birdfeeder is less frenetic as they all get down to the serious business. We’ve suspended feeding the fatballs for a while as Jackdaws, the terriers of the corvid world, have been really hammering them. And for noisy birds Magpies seem to hide their nests pretty well compared to other corvids – they’re around, but where?

One of the dominant songs in the birdscape at the moment is the Chiffchaff, shame its so boring! Sadly one hit our windows the other week but others are definitely around.

The first swallows arrived a couple of weeks ago. This early spring has brought clouds of insects various out to play so good hunting for them and the bats.

Butterflies include the Holly Blue, Brimstone, Orange Tip and Speckled Wood plus the occasional Comma and Peacock.

Mary Rose in flower today – the first in the garden