Wild about Spring

Wild about Spring

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I dream’d that as I wander’d by the way

Bare Winter suddenly was changed to Spring

And gentle odours led my steps astray

      Shelley

And so the suddenly green shoots were pushing up so fast you could almost hear their lush unfurling and the pots exploded in a lush blaze of colour Snowdrops, narcissus and crocus popping up in pots and in the beds. Far more than I thought I’d put in! Spring was here.

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When I walk to work from the station, I choose the peaceful path up the side of the campus, alongside established trees. All Winter the ground has been a crackling brown carpet of leaves under bare branches. As the days warmed up little leaves appeared taking advantage of the bare canopy. I’m not great on identifying wild flowers, but I’m trying to learn! Am very smitten with a book I found in a bargain bookshop in Lewes, Wild Flowers, by Sarah Raven!

The first leaves to appear were like miniature cyclamen. And pretty soon their flowers appeared, another Springtime yellow, a mass of lesser celandine. It was a real delight watching the brown dead carpet become a mass of colour as the weeks passed by.

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I was rather less delighted when I realised that my new beds were also becoming a sea of celandines too. A “freebie” that came with my free top soil! After researching them I realised that these were pretty difficult to eradicate; digging them out was likely to leave tubers that resprouted! After removing them only where they appeared to be most encroaching on precious plants, I took a philosophical view to love and leave them for now.

There is a flower, the Lesser Celandine

That shrinks like many more from cold and rain

And the first moment that the sun may shine

Bright as the sun himself, tis out again!

W Wordsworth

On a March walk at Cuckmere I was delighted to spot these little violets which I’m almost certain are sweet violet rather than the more common later dog violets. A shy and sweet delight.

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At the campus perimeter the celandines were soon finished. The next leaves to shoot up were more delicate fronds, I was guessing cranesbill but suddenly they grew, at least a foot a week! Triumphant Cow Parsley, some of it already chest high.

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Nettles and dandelions are next and down the slope a few bluebells already opening those fragrant blue petals.

However much I  carefully nurture my garden , it reminds me Mother Nature is pretty good at blossoming forth without any help!

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Enjoy it while it lasts

Inspirations – Hever Castle, Kent

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Today we took a trip out to Hever Castle and gardens in Kent. To get there we drive out through some amazingly beautiful countryside of the high Weald and Ashdown Forest. The gorse blazing yellow and little puffs of cloud in blue skies.

Hever Castle was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII. It was originally built in 1270. There are some fine gardens and grounds at Hever covering 125 acres, which should have interest at any time of year.

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Today the daffodils unsurprisingly were past their best, but there were still a good show of tulips.

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I’m not all that fond of the range of garish primulas you can buy although I do like to see them growing wild in the hedgerows and I think it’s going to be a good year for them!

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And the first bluebells I’ve seen! Glorious

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I loved this blue corner too, very vivid colours and wonderful contrasts. I must get some euphorbias in my garden – that lime green is so fresh and vivid.

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Also loved the contrasts of this foliage – who says you need flowers when the leaves are so lovely

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And loved this bright little flower too, though not sure what it is

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All in all a very nice day out, and no doubt we will be back in the Summer when it’s warm enough to picnic outside and the garden is at its height! Until next time..

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New birds on the block

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New birds on the block

He who shall hurt the little wren / Shall never be beloved by men.” William Blake

New to my garden this year, is a beautiful thrush which has been busy digging worms out of the lawn, and waking me up before dawn with flute like singing when we have the windows open.

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Also for a couple of months I’ve had a wren, that darts all around the patio, and garden pots, flicking its tail looking for insects. Apparently these are Britain’s most common breeding bird, which is a little surprising. I wonder if it will nest nearby! These are also good singers, and very loud for such a tiny bird.

I’m also nearly certain I saw a goldcrest fly from my garden to a nearby pine tree so will be keeping a close eye out for that one! I’ve changed my birdseed to a no-mess mixture and as a result the sparrows have been in a lot less, but it’s possible it will attract other birds. I’ve already seen the robin on the feeder which is unusual.

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And the kittiwakes are back. Marking out the best nesting spots on the cliffs, and cosily pairing up.

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There are bees (early mining bees I think) on the willow branches overhanging from next door, and even a butterfly or two

In the garden the bulbs keep coming, a wonderful display and I’m looking forward to the garden bursting back into life. The shrubs are doing well and putting on a lot of growth, especially the euonymus fortunei that I‘m trying to grow into a small hedge, and the box plants. The bamboo is looking very brown though, probably a combination of winter wind burn and lack of water as it’s difficult for the roots to get enough water even when its wet. Must cut it back and give it a feed to see if we can revive it.

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And the camellia is back in flower, glorious

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Also went into Brighton and bought some more nice pots back for Mr W to drill drainage holes in. You can never have too many pots!

I’ve been busy in the mini greenhouse, and on the warm window ledges with my heated propagator so there are plenty of seedlings on the way, but I must say a lot have been very slow to grow, only finally speeding up this week! The exception is the rampant sweet peas that are now around a foot high and getting too big for the little greenhouse.

Enjoy the sunshine!

Easter sunshine

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So finally the weather changes and we get a few hours, where the rains stops, the wind drops and even the sun comes out. We have a thwarted attempt to go out for the day, but the car has a puncture so G sorts that out, while I get outside for a garden tidy and a check of all the plants.

I start in the beach bed, which looks a little thin now, so I plant some seeds. The lady’s mantle has died off over Winter but looks like it is re-emerging and I rescued the hebe, and may keep it in a pot somewhere. The curry plant looks ok, also the salt bush and they make a nice silver backdrop to whatever else is going in there. There are two pots of thrift on the shed window-ledge and both are starting to come back to life, and look fine. The insect box has blown down a few times, must get it securely fastened to the shed .

In the long raised bed, a couple of Californian poppies have self seeded, the feverfew is coming back. The honesty that I planted last year is coming up and will hopefully flower this year, also the new tansy which got a bit swamped by bigger plants last year. The foliage of the blue campanula seems to be creeping back along in the corner of the wall.

The two hebes have grown into sizeable clumps, the eleangus has put on big growth spurt which is great, though seems to have some miscoloured and dropping leaves. Can’t see any obvious pests on in it, and it’s always had some sort of problem since I got it. The fennel is resprouting from the bottom. Both agapanthus look ok, and a lily is coming up. At the Mediterranean end, I was about to move the hydrangea anomola as it did very badly last year – and I read it may do better in shade – however it looks like it is suddenly much healthier, so maybe I’ll leave it. I moved the sea holly (what little is showing) as it was getting swamped by other plants. The rosemary and thyme have pretty healthy sized clumps, and I think the marjoram is there waiting to come back up (though have some more growing in the kitchen window if needed!) A cutting from my lost clematis overwintered ok and I’ve put it in by the trellis, but we shall see if it comes to anything! Amongst it all, the new daffodils and other bulbs are happy popping up.

On the shadier side, plants have been ticking along really. The ground is a bit dry and sandy near the wall, and I need to get some of the clay-like top soil moved there, but it’s so heavy to lift, I keep putting it off, hoping it will dry out a bit first! There is another honesty plant and a couple of clumps of ox-eye daisies which did so well last year. The valerian and fleabane are starting well, the honeysuckle has fresh new growth, and the starflowers have popped up again, some pale and some a deep blue. The pyracantha suffered in the Winter again, but the lovely variegated holly did well, and brightened up that corner. The hellebore is in leaf, but small and not flowering, and the Arum Italicum is doing fine – lovely variegated leaves. I planted a new Periwinkle (Ralph Shugart) which should fill in some gaps. I planted a chocolate cosmos tuber in the end of the bed, which is still bright with daffodils and other unknown bulbs popping up!

And in the pots, on the day of the Easter family get together, the tulips bloomed. Lovely!

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Dancing with the Daffodils

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It’s probably the first verse of the Wordsworth poem that most people know best (I wandered lonely etc etc..), but recently it’s been the last verse that’s been in my head.

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

My Dad was always a keen gardener, but the last couple of years the dementia kind of made him forget what to do, and have little interest in anything.. This year his daffodils and other bulbs have popped up as usual, but he hasn’t been there to see them.

He’s had a rough couple of months really. First he was in a care home where he declined physically and mentally, then he got flu twice, and then pressure sores. The for weeks he was in hospital where he was admitted with a chest infection, and then ended up on a ward isolated with a vomiting bug, then had pneumonia. Lying there in that hospital bed watching the clock go around must be so boring, but he just seemed to sleep mostly and forget that there was any other place to be. We were struggling to find a nursing home bed for him, struggling more to get social services to do anything they were supposed to, but finally this week he was offered a nursing home place, a nice small place only 20 minutes away from my mum. And today he moved there.

It’s hard to know quite what is going on in his head, but I really hope he can close his eyes, and still see his daffodils, to still remember and see the good things in his life gone by. His dancing days may be over, but he can still dream.

His new room is lovely, sunny with double doors going out to the garden, so maybe we can bring some of his pots and plants by the door, and give him a reason to get out of bed, watch the seasons, get outside and to smell the flowers.

The photos are some of the many daffodils that have popped up in my garden. The bulbs were a birthday present from mum and dad in October, so thanks for that! A glorious display of new life and a new season, Spring really is here.

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Storms to Spring – March 2014

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There wasn’t a lot that made it through the harsh winter of 2013. That vicious wind, relentless rain and violent storms took their toll. So when a load of bulbs starting popping up in the rather dull and empty flower beds in March I was intrigued. They turned out to be these, pretty and prolific little starflowers (Iperion uniflorum) . Spring had arrived.

My birthday present magnolia bloomed early too, beautiful in its carefully planted up pot.