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. Continue reading “Racing into May”

Just an early April day

Arum creticum
Arum creticum

Of the four or 5 clumps I have of this warm blooded arum, this is the only one with ‘flowers’ this year, the bud opened this morning. Faintly and sweetly scented.

Elsewhere birds are singing and squabbling – two wrens were having a tiff earlier. Nest building is in full swing.

Daffodil clumps are beginning to build up and provide a better spring show.  I bought some on sale last year from Sarah Raven so they went in late, I have quite a few of the sweetly scented small flowered daffs to yet open, Trevithian, Peublo, Geranium and Martinette (some of which from the previous year I had left in pots and was one of the first daffodils in flower this year).

Narcissus Thalia often twin headed
Narcissus Thalia often twin headed

I love Elka which is a small pale daff. Thalia has just started to come out but is taking a while to establish. Sailboat and Jack Snipe are also in full flower (Topolino is just going over). The old double daffodil Pencrebar is just about to open. The buds of the long established clumps of N poeticus in the copse at the bottom of the garden are tall but still tightly budded. Continue reading “Just an early April day”

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.

The race is run

Early May blossom
The cusp of spring, early May

I have been running with this late spring  for weeks. The late spring has been a bonus, it has allowed me to get a lot of plants in in the new garden to catch the wave of May’s super growth. Most plants will then slow down and ‘sit’.

Last weekend was the cusp, when we tipped full-on into spring, although around here the Horse Chestnut candles are not yet lit. Apples, lilac and cherries are all out, the plum blossom has gone over, even the Blackthorn was late this year.

Last weekend was one of warm weather which started the fast forward in growth. Orange Tip butterflies were skipping about looking for Cuckoo Flowers which are now waving their dainty lilac heads in the meadows. The intense yellow of Cowslips jangle on roadsides.

Spanish Bluebells
Spanish Bluebells – yuk

This garden has come with a load of Spanish Bluebells (hate ’em) but hard to eradicate when established. In the wilder bit of the garden where it floods, there is a clump of what looks like a crossing of Spanish and English – pity.

Mole problems again, different garden, different mole. It has popped some of my meadow plug plants back up like organ stops, and got into the woodland ‘mound’ and popped plants up there too. And if it’s not moles it’s chickens ripping stuff up, or a cat going mad for the emerging Nepeta and repeatedly destroying it.

This last week has been very windy but the rain has also helped accelerate growth. A newly planted old tree peony which I brought with me from Bath has taken a hammering. I took out a snowberry hedge (hate ’em) and let the wind in, so now am hastily replanting with leftover hornbeam which will take a while to establish and grow the network of branches required to slow down the wind.

Wanted to visit Hunts Court at North Nibley this weekend for a couple more roses but I think it is no more – a pity.

Ode to a toad

A long time since the last post. The Bath garden is now the responsibility of a rental agency, I have moved on. Maybe one day the house and garden will have someone who cares again. Someone who has the time and / or cash to mend the crumbling lime mortared garden walls and finish off the rougher edges; start new projects but preferably not pave over it again;  take Rosa Gardenia back under control and tend the toads. The rule is never to go back to find out though, it’s not mine anymore.

A few weeks before I left, I saw the gold back door toad slowly making its way up the concrete path where the sheltering camellia pots used to be.  She was heading towards the steps up into the garden which toads can’t traverse, I decided to help her out.  Carefully picking her up, I noticed she had a gash down her side, all black and bubbly, was that the end of my toad? I bid her farewell and good luck as I set her down in the soft humus of the woodbed.

The Bath garden was my third of four gardens planted so far.

Key lessons

  • Coping with snails and slugs,  gradually refining down to plants that could survive.
  • Planting for shade
  • How critical to some plants longer periods of direct sunshine are (especially with the added gloomy weather of 2012)
  • Less is more, over time lots of shrubs had to come out as they started to mature

What will I miss? A summer morning before Bath was completely awake, the low hum of traffic, swifts overhead, the Genista aetnensis in full golden flower.

Sitting on a warm evening watching the light fall and seeing the occasional flitting bat.  Breathing in the scent of lilies and listening to the rustle of toads in the flower beds.

The excitement of spring waking the woodbed after nearly 6 months in total shade. Every day something unwinding, unfurling, pushing through, some awaited,  forgotten others re-discovered.