After all my complaints about the bad weather we had down south over Easter, yesterday was nice and today is glorious. I cleaned the line and hung washing outside for the first time this year. I battled with BT to try to get a better deal out of them and succeeded. I started deadheading the daffodils. Then I did a lot of weeding. That was tiring so I sat in the sun (really warm!) and made these nifty plant supports out of hazel hedge prunings the gardener left behind. All that time in the Guides wasn’t wasted.

070415plantsupports

Yesterday I saw lambs in the fields; new life everywhere.
190315daffodil

daffodils,
That come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty;


Shakespeare’s daffodils wouldn’t have been like the ones in our gardens; more like those Wordsworth wrote about, I imagine. The principle remains though: however foul the weather, the daffodils don’t fail us. There are masses of daffodils of the larger type in my garden but they’re not out yet. They were all here when I moved in. The miniature ones I planted myself, in front of the potting shed, where they do very well. I had to cut this little beauty because I wasn’t prepared to lie down on wet grass just to get a photo.

Yesterday was a glorious spring day and I could garden outside feeling the warmth of the sun. Today we’re back to the November-like murk which has plagued us for the past week. But still there are daffodils. By the end of their season, I always feel they have delighted us long enough, but it’s worth waiting for the late flowering of the beautiful Pheasant’s Eye type, as shown in the userpic.

Harbingers

Feb. 13th, 2015 07:53 am
120215daffs

In my garden, the daffodils are just green spears biding their time. Down in town, where it’s warmer, there are fat buds. In the supermarkets, the ‘daffs pound a bunch’ season is here and aren’t they cheerful on a dark, windy morning?

May Day

May. 1st, 2014 07:55 am
What a murky old day for May Day. I can’t imagine anyone feeling like dabbling in the dew this morning. In 2011 I was able to show a rose in bloom . This year there are buds but no flowers yet. Here’s some other pretty things photographed yesterday.

300414tiarella

Airy Tiarella.

300414quince

Quince (Chaenomeles). This is a huge shrub and absolutely covered in flowers this year.

300414clematis

If I’m lucky, the clematis, rose and honeysuckle on this wall are all in flower together. I hope the others catch up with the clematis by the end of the month.
in the greenhouse )
I can be a proper grump at this time of year. While everyone else is raving about how wonderful the lighter evenings are, I’m complaining that longer, lighter evenings are freezing cold and it doesn’t seem decent to draw the curtains against daylight. There are things to enjoy, though. First, the way the daffodils and primroses which now fill the garden glow palely in the dusk. Second, hearing a blackbird singing in the early evening. This poem by John Drinkwater was a favourite of mine when I was a child. I mentally transposed it to our own suburban garden and felt it summed up the time of year.

Blackbird

He comes on chosen evenings,
My blackbird bountiful, and sings
Over the garden of the town
Just at the hour the sun goes down.
His flight across the chimneys thick,
By some divine arithmetic,
Comes to his customary stack,
And couches there his plumage black,
And there he lifts his yellow bill,
Kindled against the sunset, till
These suburbs are like Dymock woods
Where music has her solitudes,
And while he mocks the winter's wrong
Rapt on his pinnacle of song,
Figured above our garden plots
Those are celestial chimney-pots.
Yesterday, in spite of the cold, I decided to do some gardening in the afternoon. I’d hardly started when it poured with rain and I had to scuttle round putting everything away. At least one corner of the garden looked a little neater. Later I cut a lot of daffodils which had been blown to the ground so they could be admired indoors. It’s jolly cold again today but I managed one job this morning, removing a shrub which hasn’t been pleasing me. Then I took a few photos. This is a general view of part of the garden and you can see that there are daffodils and primroses everywhere.

220314gardenview
more )
It was sunny(ish) this afternoon and much warmer than yesterday, so I took myself out. Just up the road I found myself following a genuine red vardo drawn by a horse with lovely feathered feet. Far from being annoyed by the delay, drivers were beaming, and a couple waved from their front garden. Parked at the garden centre was a lovingly preserved MG Midget covered with badges; I gazed at it in admiration for quite a while. It felt quite spring-like and I wandered round looking at plants which I used to have in my old garden and had to tell myself strictly that I have no room for in my new one. I can resist the resin garden animal ornaments but if I could think where to put it I’d buy a small gothic mirror like this to create some garden magic. It was cheaper locally. [livejournal.com profile] aellia, I think you’d have loved some of this stuff.

Back home in my garden I saw lots of jobs crying out to be done and some dead plants in the greenhouse. More encouragingly, in flower now are: cherry tree, primroses, snowdrops, pulmonarias, miniature daffodils, hellebores, bergenia, a few crocus, including the large purple one which comes up in solitary splendour each year, and Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve’, which is almost never out of flower. Pleasingly, my erythronium plants are showing shoots. I can almost believe in spring.
Are we nearly there yet? In my book, if you’d rather be outdoors than in, it’s spring. After another frosty start it turned sunny here and was almost warm if you stayed in the sun and kept out of the stiff breeze. Last month the garden centre was selling pots of tulips and daffodils at half price to people with loyalty cards. I picked ‘Johann Strauss’ tulips and they've grown like mad. When the sun is on them, they open right out, looking like little suns inside.


pests & others )
After nearly two weeks of grey skies, mist and rain, this afternoon we had what people call ‘a borrowed day’, a proper spring day in what is still winter. It was warm enough in the sun to garden comfortably, without any spiteful wind to drive you indoors again. I was able to do some more spring cleaning of the garden, mostly cutting down dead stems and removing debris. It’s amazing the difference a little warmth makes. Snowdrops have been out for a while, and so have pulmonarias. Hellebores, which just a couple of days ago were hanging ragged heads, have opened pink and clear. A few daffodils are showing colour and the first tulip shoots have burst through the soil. The mysterious solitary crocus, the very one in today’s icon, has opened bright and imperial. In a very sheltered spot there’s even a grape hyacinth in flower. As for that wonderful plant, Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve’, it still has a few flowers with buds promising more; I felt it deserved to be tidied up. Of course, weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush; but they’ll have to wait for another day.


Open windows matching the sky.



Primroses everywhere.
Not before my little room but in a garden up the road. It really does feel more like May than April. There’s a green haze over the hawthorn hedges, the May is fading, fields suddenly look as though a giant paintbrush has given them a green colour wash. People laugh at the British habit of flinging off clothes at the first warmth in the sun but hey, given the past two years, this could *be* summer, so we should jolly well enjoy it.
This is the current view from my bedroom window.



A lovely, mild gardening day yesterday and here's the first tree blossom of spring.


This evening's view, looking towards Badbury Rings.
I had such a lovely day yesterday. I was down at the market at eight o’clock as usual and it was quite bustling. I know you like to know what I got. A pretty little pink Caithness glass vase for fifty pence and a bagful of Georgette Heyer paperbacks for a pound. Plus the week's fruit and veg. of course. A quick whiz round posting and buying odd things, then after a much needed cup of coffee it was off to Pamphill for a car boot sale. This is held a few times a year in aid of St Stephen’s Church. I always enjoy this even if I don’t get anything. It’s hardly ten minutes’ drive away and like another world (pop. 287). The sale is small and friendly and I am hailed on all sides by people I know. Yesterday was just lovely: the fresh green on the avenue of trees (see link just given), bluebells everywhere, absolute quiet apart from birdsong. For the rest of the day I was high on just the beauty of an English spring. As if that weren’t enough I bought some excellent condition Lone Pine paperbacks and a couple of Viragos, then saw a notice saying, ‘Second hand books in church'. Naturally I couldn’t get in fast enough and found another little haul.

Our last indoor NCCPG meeting of the year in the afternoon but even being stuck yet again in the community centre on a beautiful day didn’t dampen my spirits. My friend Diana Guy told us about winning the BBC Gardener’s World Gardener of the Year competition in 2004. It is very hard work indeed. I just looked on the BBC web site and found this:

"We're particularly keen to see more applicants from the Midlands and North," says series producer, Rosemary Edwards. "We always get a huge response from the South, particularly the Dorset and Devon areas, but we are convinced that gardeners in the Midlands and North are just as talented and it would be nice to see more of them."

Dorset wins, ha ha ha!
Today there was a book sale at Upton House. It's not far to go and there was Blackthorn in the hedges, lambs in the fields and a haze of young green on the oak trees. The book sale was very quiet and friendly. Some people carried boxes and exchanged shy, conspiratorial smiles with other box carriers; smiles which meant, 'I am a bookaholic and so are you'. The grounds are lovely and there are some pictures after the cut. Read more... )
You’d think I’d seen enough springs not to be surprised by another one but it still amazes me the way the whole landscape seems suddenly to change overnight, in spite of the cold. Looking at the view from the upstairs windows I see green where only last week there was brown with, in the middle distance, a large patch of yellow. This is oilseed rape, from which swarms of tiny black pollen beetles will later fly, to land on my sweet peas. In the garden, green and yellow dominate. Bright yellow leaves on the golden philadelphus, Philadelphius coronarius 'Aureus'. Next to it, fat yellow buds on Paeonia lutea, just about to open. A solid dome of chrome from Euphorbia polychroma. Rippling ribbons of Euphorbia cyparissias running through the borders with the self sown forget-me-nots. Yet another euphorbia, E. robbiae, is rampant under a hedge. My lovely orange-y Ballerina tulips highlight the brown flowers clustering among the bright leaves of Euphorbia mellifera. The flowers really are brown and they do smell of honey. Later in the season, if you’re lucky enough to be sitting outside in the sun, you will hear an occasional ‘pop’ as the seeds explode. Bare earth is disappearing under cushions of green as perennial plants like hardy geraniums and Tellima grandiflora start mounding themselves up ready to flower. Foggy now, but full of promise.

Johnnie Walker is celebrating 1966, the year he started out in pirate radio. Great year.
Nothing is so beautiful as Spring -
When weeds, on wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Spring
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Hurrah, I am in love with gardening again. For weeks I have been looking out of the windows without the slightest desire to do any of the myriad tasks awaiting me and reflecting gloomily that I would probably never garden again. This morning I went into the (cold) greenhouse to find it warm and steamy. I opened a vent and even watered some of the poor plants overwintering in there.

Ten days ago the folk at Kew were telling disappointed visitors that delayed spring warmth would mean that five million bulbs would all burst into bloom at once. This is certainly true here (not the five million, obviously) but all the daffodils are coming out together. No more supermarket daffs for me! Here's a rotten picture of miniature daffodils lining a little path:





I've forgotten what all these are called but here is strange, shaggy old 'Rip van Winkle':




The picture I've chosen for the latest usericon is of Corydalis lutea.  It's one of those plants you have for a while, lose, 
then it pops up somewhere else it would prefer to grow. Lovely ferny foliage and yellow flowers which last a long time. 
This is the season for acid yellows. Here is one of my favourites



Euphorbia characias 'Blue Hills'. The heads are drooping now, full of promise, then up they will perk for two months. 
Or how about this little oddity, which flowers right on the ground?




It is Hacquetia epipactis and I don't know how it survives in our soil. In the same shady corner is this little shrub, Daphne laureola:




This was grown from a seedling in the garden of a dear old friend, who was still gardening when he died, aged 96. I say gardening; actually he was whizzing around in a terrifying way on his mobility scooter, bossing me about while I did the gardening. There's more yellow from the catkins on the Corkscrew Hazel and the primroses everywhere, and purple from crocus and wood anemones.

This afternoon I actually went outside to work and was not put off when it began pouring with rain as soon as I had got the wheelbarrow out of the shed. I picked up a lot of litter and cut down Epimedium 'Sulphureum'.



Before



After
It looks terrible, but if you don't take off the top growth you will never see the flowers, which are curled up underneath and will stand up later. I love epimediums and have bought many choice varieties from the plantsman's favourite nursery, Blackthorn. I have lost almost all of them but E. 'Sulphureum' is tough as old boots and will grow in any old patch of garden where you think nothing will do. This specimen is in far too good a site, wasting soil and sun and will be chopped up and moved later. It's good to have plans!

Hopkins was right about the weeds. Hairy bittercress is everywhere, those little white flowers waiting to explode all over the garden. If a weed is a plant in the wrong place, is this Chionodoxa a weed? It has seeded itself into asphalt and comes up every year without fail.






Vita Sackville-West pronounced this 'Tchaynadawksa'. Good grief.

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