Tag Archive | daffodil

Snow in March

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For the second time this year, we have laying snow here in North Devon, and very pretty it is too. Thick enough to completely cover the grass on the unmown, shaggy lawns, it has turned the garden into a winter wonderland.

 

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Icicles drip from every overhang, and the sheltered side of every tree trunk is plastered with layer of snow.

 

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The poor spring bulbs have had a bit of a shock…

 

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The larger daffodil varieties are looking particularly sad, but the small ones such as Tete a Tete are coping better, poking bravely through the snow.

 

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My big drift of snake’s head fritillaries was about to burst into flower, and it will be interesting to see how they respond to being snow-covered.

 

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The camellia is still flowering profusely, but the current crop of flowers may well go soft and mushy when they defrost. They do best when sheltered from the morning sun from the east…if the flowers defrost slowly, they are less likely to suffer.

 

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This Corylopsis is looking particularly fine, with the snow as a backdrop.

 

 

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Many shrubs have started to produce their spring leaves, such as this red-leaved Spirea. I hope they don’t get too cold!

 

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Some native flowers will cope fine, such as this little primrose, tucked on the sheltered side of the garden wall.

 

 

 

 

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And the gorse on the hill is flowering well, as it does all year round.

 

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The spring catkins will also be unconcerned by a bit of snow.

 

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Last summer’s seedheads look particularly fine against a white carpet.

 

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So it may be cold, and difficult to drive around, but there is no better time to go explore the garden!

 

 

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Super Spring Sunshine

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What a stunningly beautiful weekend it has been, with blue skies all day long, and some real warmth in the sun. The fritillaries have really started to open this week, and there are plenty more buds to come.

The early daffodils, mainly large yellow or white and yellow trumpets, plus the tiny Tete a Tete, are now over, and we have a much wider mix of varieties, including a lovely pink trumpeted one.

 

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I mowed for the first time this year, so the lawns are looking lovely and neat after the shagginess of early spring.

 

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Most of the Spring pruning is now done, and I am able to start going over some of the flower beds and renovating the planting. I do love this time of year…

 

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Hellebores and other Spring beauties

The last month has been less than perfect, as I have had a nasty bout of ‘flu, and haven’t been well enough to get out in the garden much. Once the worst was over, I went visiting friends and family around the country for a week, while I got my strength back. I managed to visit a fair few garden centres and nurseries while away, so returned with a boot full of delicious plants. This unusual striped hellebore was one of my finds – it is bred by Hilliers as part of their Spring Promise range, and is called ‘Lily’.

 

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I had a quick look at the other hellebores they were selling, not expecting to find anything else, but then I found yet another stunner – this time a double purple so dark it looks black, but with a softer purple showing around the edges.

 

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This is ‘Double Ellen Purple’, a superb addition to my little hellebore grove along the woodland path.

The garden is awash with Spring bulbs, all doing their best to stand up against the Spring storms. The crocuses struggle, but some have survived.

 

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My current favourite among the daffodils is this mid-sized one with swept back petals, and a rich orange trumpet. it really stands out amongst all the yellow and white varieties.

 

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This little corner bed at the end of our drive was just full of weeds, so in the winter I planted a little conifer which was swathed with fairy lights for Christmas, and added a few clumps of mini daffs that needed moving from elsewhere. Now I just need to add a little something else in front of the conifer for summer colour.

 

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We have had to add an extra layer of wire mesh around the base of our potager, as we found that the rabbits were chewing holes in our plastic deer fencing, even there is nothing inside yet for them to eat!

 

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That should stop them. The first plants have now gone in – summer and autumn-fruiting raspberries. They don’t look much at the moment, but should grow away well, helped by lots of homemade compost. I am really looking forward the the first crop.

 

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Now I need some mild, dry weather so that I can get out there and get gardening, but as it is currently raining I shall have to make do with admiring my bowl of hellebores.

 

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The daffs are late…or were they early last year?

This is our second winter in this garden, and they couldn’t be more different. Last winter was mild and wet, with few frosts and rain most days. This winter has been drier, but with many heavy frosts, some lasting all day. The differences really show in the garden.

Firstly, many perennials such as Alchemilla and Crocosmia remained green last winter, whereas this year the leaves went brown and mushy in December.

 

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This photo was taken today of my earliest clump of daffodils, and I have an almost identical picture take last year, but a whole month earlier, in early January.

 

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The difference in timing is not so great with the snowdrops – they may have been only a week or two earlier last winter. But they do seem to be in greater numbers this year.

My camellia is in full bloom, and also seems more floriferous, but it seems to have grown significantly over the year, which would account for that.

 

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So I think that this is a more normal spring, and that the mild weather last year accelerated the growth of many bulbs, but particularly the daffodils.

I find the early spring such an exciting time of year, with new flowers peeking out every time I go in the garden, and fat buds appearing on the shrubs. The witch hazel and the shrubby honeysuckle have fragrant flowers to search out and sniff, and the hellebores are unfurling their dangling blooms. I must cut some and float them in a bowl of water so that I can admire them.

 

 

 

It’s slow going in the garden

The garden is slowly changing as spring progresses. We have a few leaves on the beech trees, and some sycamores are in leaf. But generally the garden is slightly behind others locally, maybe because it is on a north-facing slope. We still have daffodils in flower in May, which, considering that the first ones flowered in December, makes this a very long spring!

I am still waiting to identify many of the deciduous shrubs – they are getting leaves, and buds, and some I can work out, but others I will have to wait and see what the flowers look like. I do have several clumps of Camassias flowering in the main bed, which is a nice surprise.

 

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I have been trying to plant all the lovely things that I have been buying, so that I can justify buying more! But it takes ages to plant anything. Today I popped a Tiarella ‘Spring Symphony’ beside the path in the woodland. I dug up a bucket of large stones, and half a bucket of weeds and roots. Then when the plant went in the hole, I had no spare soil to fill in around it, so had to go and collect a bucket of soil from elsewhere. So one small plant took a good half-hour to put in!

 

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I decided to tidy up the lawn edge, as it was all undulating. Just a small job…yeah right! I have a neat little garden line marker, which I ran out to mark the new edge, and then used the edging iron to cut the new edge. That was the easy bit. Then I had to dig out and remove all the excess turf. Several buckets of turf later, it does look good, but boy did my back ache!

 

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So everything is taking time at the moment, but I know that there is no real rush, so I will get there eventually. At least with the warmer, drier weather, it is a pleasure being outside.

Putting in the paths

The only paths we have inherited in our acre and a quarter garden are the straight one that runs along the bottom edge through the wood, and a curved one through the large sloping border behind the house.

 

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The curved path starts on the patio, curves up a set of steps through the main flowerbed on the bank behind the house, and then curves back down these steps pictured above to the lawn at the front of the garden. You lose all the height you gain by going up the steps, and as there is a continuous row of shrubs on the far side of the path, you cannot access the upper lawn areas and the orchard.

 

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So we have started a little stone path that zigzags off the top of the path onto the lawn by the orchard. We are using the stones we have dug up around the garden, but it is a bit of a jigsaw puzzle fitting them into a stepped path. I think it will look lovely and rustic when it is finished, and the first of many paths to come.

One of the first things I did in the winter was to cut down a very scraggy shrubby honeysuckle just beyond the path, and lo and behold there is a view right to the far end of the garden. So finally we have now dug out the roots, so that we can have another path leading through the shrubbery and beyond.You can see the two major stumps awaiting carrying to the bonfire.

 

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I have also been out and wrestled with our new mower, and started to define the grassy paths through the ‘meadow’ that the far end of the garden will become. It is far too large an area to mow all of it, and it will be interesting to have areas of long grass.

 

 

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I have started by mowing the routes that we already walk, and will gradually add in some more mown strips to create a pleasing network of gently sloping paths by which one can explore the whole garden.

 

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I can also start to plant shrubs and trees in the curved corners of the paths, to help define the routes. It is great to see these ideas starting to show on the ground, even if we have a lot of hard work to do before they become reality.

This afternoon I tackled the ‘rockery’, a stony bank above the wall bordering the drive. I cleared away some of the weeds and ivy, and planted six aubrieta along the front edge to trail down the wall. Well, at least I hope they will, as it is a north facing wall, so not as sunny as is ideal.

 

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The front lawn continues to be a delight, covered as it is with fritillaries, primroses, daffodils, anemones, and grape hyacinths. At least one area of the garden is already a riot of colour!

 

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Happy Easter from Devon!

Today has been a typical Spring day of sunshine and showers. Ok, so the showers were hail, but the wind was from the South, and it wasn’t too cold. This morning I treated myself to a ride on the beach on my latest riding school horse, Bernadette, AKA Bernie, who is a 16hh ish coloured cob, all hair and mud stains, but with a heart of gold. There were eight of us on the ride, and we all had a fab time with several really fast gallops along the beach. Shame about the hail stinging on our faces!!

This afternoon we gardened in between the showers. The shed is now finished, and looking very smart.

 

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We also finished digging out the Rosa rugosa roots, and raked over the big bare patch. Now to wait for it to regrow from all the bits of broken root…

The garden is still full of daffodils and other Spring bulbs

 

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The woodland path is just stunning, and I really need to plant some colour for later in the year, as it is going to look quite plain once these are gone. I have relocated our new birdbath to the front of our main flowerbed, and it looks great there. The robins have been bathing regularly. They seem to like to bathe in the nesting season, possibly to help control the parasites that can be a problem in their nests.

 

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We have a very special flower coming up in the front lawn

 

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See all the little nodding purple flowers? They are snake’s head fritillaries, and the lawn is covered with them.

 

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They come in a white form too, but I like the purple, with it’s fancy chequerboard pattern. Along with the blue anemones, the daffs and the hundreds of primroses, the front is quite a picture!

 

 

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A garden of surprises

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Our garden is full of surprises at the moment, delighting us with something new every week. We still have masses of daffodils of many types, and they are standing up to the weather now, so I don’t have to go round and rescue the flattened ones. I am still picking a bunch for the kitchen though, as there are just so many that the garden won’t miss them. I have found a clump of pretty peachy trumpets.

 

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And on the front lawn is one clump of double daffs – not my favourite type, but it is good to have the variety

 

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The crocuses are also doing really well with the improvement in the weather.

 

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Some of our mystery deciduous shrubs have burst into bloom. One small shrub with a very elegant, delicate shape has shown itself to be a Corylopsis, and is covered in creamy bells. Beautiful!

 

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Another large shrub has revealed itself as a flowering currant, which is a shrub that I always like to have in a garden, so that is great news. The flowers are still not fully open, but are a superb colour.

 

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We have added yet another mammal to our garden list, as a badger ran across in front of the car the other evening, and up our steps into the garden. It was exciting, as I can count on one hand the number of badgers I have ever seen, but it is a mixed blessing as they can be destructive, and I don’t really need anything else digging holes in the garden! The rabbits are bad enough – this is supposed to be my herb bed, right  by the kitchen door, and a big fat doe dug a massive burrow before we could stop her…

 

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We have filled it in. Grrr. There is also signs of nibbling on one of my new plants, so I have caged it with twigs, and will see if that deters them.

 

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I have finally seen the deer in the garden during daylight, with a herd of seven grazing on the lawn late one afternoon. I have excellent views, but by the time I had fetched the camera they had boinged over the fence and were staring at me from next doors field.

 

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I still have many bulbs yet to flower, and shrubs whose identities I cannot decipher from their twigs, so the garden has plenty more surprises for us to discover. What will tomorrow bring?

 

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Early Spring tasks

The far end of the garden is mainly just grass, and that area is going to become our wildlife garden, where we plant lots of berrying shrubs, and plants that are good for insects. As the shrubs will take a few years to get established, we wanted to start as soon as possible. So we have managed to get an order of bare-rooted native shrubs delivered, just before they stop selling them until next autumn. These are the sorts of shrubs one would plant in a native hedge, but we are planting them far enough apart that they can reach their full size, and provide plenty of food and cover for birds.

They have to be planted immediately on arrival, as they are bare-rooted, so we have been out in the hail and the cold North wind, lifting squares of turf, digging holes, removing stones, and planting these little twigs. We have also had to protect them from our red deer, and the tree guards and stakes have cost significantly more than the shrubs! But we are pleased with the result, and can imagine our little spinney in a few years time.

 

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We have planted guelder rose, wayfaring tree, alder buckthorn, elder, dog rose, and wild service tree.

We have also put up 5 home-made bird boxes, one on a beech tree just by the house, two more in the garden, and two along the private lane (with permission). I hope they all get resident families of blue tits or great tits.

 

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The weather is more spring-like today, with some glorious sunshine – shame about the cold wind!

 

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Time now to go out and collect up all the fallen daffodils to fill my vases. I don’t know if it is just the weather that flattens them, or if it is wildlife, but I get quite a lot that are just horizontal, and sometimes completely snapped off. They look much prettier in the house than flat on the ground.

 

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Quarterly report

Yes, we have been living here now for three months, and three wet and windy months they were too. Looking back to what the house and garden were like when we moved in on the 1st December, I can see that we have made progress, but I can also see how much there is still left to do.

I have spent most of the time just cutting back and tidying up, so that all the thousands of spring bulbs can come up and shine.

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The woodland path is lined with daffodils now.

 

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I seem to have many different varieties in various combinations of yellow, white and orange, but these are my favourites so far. Neither tall and brash like the yellow trumpets, nor tiny like the ‘Tete a tete’, they have elegant flowers with slightly reflexed yellow petals and a darker, orange trumpet.

 

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Some crocuses have been appearing, but they don’t cope well with the strong winds and rain, so don’t last long. Maybe if spring had been later, they might have emerged after the worst of the weather, but everything is so early this year that the flowers are encountering weather they are just not prepared for! I have the odd clump of Dutch crocuses in purple, yellow, and striped blue.

 

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I also have a scattering of the delicate lilac species Crocus tommasinianus.

 

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Today I planted up another patch of garden, this time the bare area where the old rose pergola stood.

 

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I have put in a large flowered shocking pink Cistus which will grow and spread to cover a large area over time, and a Convulvulus cneorum with its lovely silver leaves and white flowers as a bonus really. The three small plants are Lithodora, blue-flowered rockery plants, and I have transplanted some of the little daffodils from somewhere where they were at risk of being trodden on. It doesn’t look much yet, but they should cover the ground nicely in a couple of years.

The other big improvement which has only just been fitted in our first quarter, is a new garage door – one that actually locks…

 

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The old door was pale blue-green to match the windows, and I was worried that the new one (available in lots of colours, none of them blue/green) would look wrong. I am pleasantly surprised – the cream matches the window ledges and the other, rendered side of the house, and looks like it was always there. We have also painted our two little wooden tubs  – I think they look very smart by the front door.

So, after three months, we are feeling very at home here. I have joined the gardening club and the walking club. I volunteer in the community shop. We attended the village quiz night, and have dined in the local pub.

Life is a little different to before. Our daily chores now involve re-laying the fire in the log-burner, refreshing the flower vases, and re-filling the bird feeders. Our weekend walks have included the beaches, the coast path, the banks of the estuaries, the rocky headlands and the woods. We have explored Ilfracombe, Braunton, Barnstaple and Bideford.

But we still haven’t explored Exmoor, which is something we want to spend time doing, and we haven’t yet ventured to Exeter, our nearest city. So much to do, so little time…

I have also written thirty nine blog posts! Goodness me, I hope you are enjoying reading them, and do please feel free to leave me a comment below. Thank you.