Smiley crocus day – hello spring!

Crocus tommasinianus

Friday was a lovely day – so very spring-like. All the odds and sods of crocuses threw themselves open to the sun. I’ve been adding various named and regular tommies but can’t remember which are which. And due to a lack of rigour on my part some pots go from year to year without being changed out – so what survives survives, hence random crocuses.

A few foraging bees were on the wing and the first butterfly, a Tortoiseshell.

Soil just dry enough to start weeding in earnest and play catch-up before March hoves into view and things start to really get cracking.

Sweet pea seeds starting to come up in the unheated greenhouse.

Told to muck out the potting shed – 5 year’s worth of old pots went to the tip. I do re-use pots but I had rather too many!

Crocus Blue Pearl with bee


Neither one thing or the other

Iris danfordiae planted late so flowering later

A low pink smudge across the sky to the east is dissipating, although brightening, the sun remains hidden in grey murk (the weather station is optimistically showing sunshine). The wind is from the NE and it’s 2.4C, officially we’re in the last few days of winter. The beginning of March next week heralds spring.

The wash of snowdrops in the copse at the bottom of the garden is starting to look bedraggled on closer inspection. In the woodbed Galanthus Brenda Troyle has long outlasted Magnet. Crocuses have given their best, petals growing translucent with repeated battering by winds, rain, frost, and the effort of opening and closing to embrace spells of sunshine. Blue Pearl and the golden chestnut-backed petals of Herald have been particularly showy in pots left over from last year.

Continue reading “Neither one thing or the other”

Let’s hear it for the crocus

Crocus chrysanthus Herald
Crocus chrysanthus Herald

I can boast two daffodils out in the garden on St David’s Day, but a whole lot of crocus embraced the sun in the spring weather a whopping 11C. A few bees were seen out and about on their travels.

The copse, spinney, bit of wood at the end of the garden is a wash of snowdrops which are just over au point, spring is quickening.  I noticed two richly coloured violet flowers out, no primroses yet, but I’ve seen them palely loitering in the hedgerows already.

Crocus biflorus Blue Pearl
Crocus biflorus Blue Pearl

A rainy squall has just passed through putting paid to any thoughts of gardening. The season is already hastening away from me, weeding to be done, seeds to be sown, the last muck to be spread, too wet, too tired, no time.

It’s also the time of year when plants that look as if they’ve toughed it out against the frost simply don’t have the energy to jumpstart themselves into the spring thing and reveal themselves as dead or on the way. The jury is currently out on the Beschorneria but one Coronilla glauca Citrina has had it.

At Bath Spa station yesterday I sat staring up from the south facing platform into the wooded cliff that rises across the river. How many times in how many seasons have I been on that platform and looked into it in over 16 years? On this early spring day the many browns of twigs and branches were at their best, smudged here and there with the yellow of hazel catkins. One loses a sense of scale, it looks intimate and close, until a small, small buzzard lazily drifts up into the sky a long way away and a tiny flashing grey dot of a pigeon passes across the canvas and disappears. Then its seems vast and special so close to the centre of this city.

Jackdaws have rediscovered the bird food fatballs now thoughts are turning to nesting, three are currently sitting in a sumach tree, one balancing precariously on the wire tube stretching out a balancing wing. Earlier the sparrowhawk was on its rounds diving into the honeysuckle after a tit but missing.

Crocus Orange Monarch
Crocus Orange Monarch

The sun is out again now golden highlights against a grey sky. We’re 43 minutes away from sunset.

Lashed to the mast of the ship of fools

Blasted petals on an early wild plum
Blasted petals on an early wild plum

A bit over dramatic, but last Tuesday the sun shone, the birds sang in rousing concert, the weather was positively balmy,  all the overburdened frogs and toads came out to play. Spring has sprung, no more miserable grey and cold – hah! Today an absolutely brutal northerly is lashing the garden with flurries of snow. At this moment the sun is shining gold as it sets, a small compensation as I fight the cat for space by the woodburner.


Daffodils  nodding everywhere and the first of the wild cherries are in blossom, less definite than the later sloe but another welcome sign of spring.

More holes dug into the lawn, more worms temporarily homeless. The garden jigsaw puzzle continues. The most recent hunt was for Hesperis matronalis alba and white lupins at a ‘reasonable’ price, Whitehall Garden Centre at Lacock came up trumps. I shall keep them in the greenhouse whilst we experience this lovely cold snap.

The November sown seeds such as Angelica and Meum athamanticum are germinating, the January sowing outside, not yet. Sowed tomatoes and a pepper this weekend in a heated propagator much earlier than I would normally as I am fed up with such late crops.

Iris reticulata and crocus
Iris reticulata and crocus

The mixed Iris reticulata are putting on a good show, just a pity there hasn’t been enough sun still to open up the crocuses.

Clearing the decks

Raking and cutting back this weekend. I was at times beguiled by the weather into thinking it was March but stopped myself from tidying, too early, we may yet still have harsh weather, leave things tucked up for a while longer.

The chickens do a good job of scratching out lawn thatch and moss but this needs to be raked up and composted otherwise it all goes mushy and yellow at this time of year.

A large Elaeagnus ebbingei hedge, and I mean large, was cut back and a bonfire was started. As it grew dark the christmas tree went on and a roaring cloud of needle embers whirled up into the evening air bringing on thoughts of lonely forests, wolves and the woodie spooks of Moominland.

Some snowdrops are showing white in the tight green corset. Crocus foliage and the light crunch of emerging daffodil leaves underfoot are making the lawn around the apple tree a no-go area. Wish the mole felt the same, parts of the lawn are like walking on a lumpy mattress!