Archives for the month of: April, 2016

Local showers, bitter April day!

It looks like the perfect spring day, blue sky and sea, white fluffy clouds but it’s frosty and the wind is still biting. Lamlash must be the greenest place on Arran; it seems to rain only on Lamlash!

In spite of the cold the ‘wild’ flowers are bursting into flower. Tiny Dog Violets (Viola riviniana) are popping up around the garden, hoping to have enough to make a violet syrup! Honesty (Lunaria annua) is always a delight to the first emergent bees and hoverflies and smells so sweet in the warm sun. You can tell whether it’s purple or white as the former has purple tinged foliage (as purple Foxgloves do too.) Bluebells are just beginning to flower; I used to pull them out of the garden as they were too prolific but now recognise that they are English bluebells and not Spanish squill, so being a bit more lenient. Tiny blue Forget-me-not punctuate the garden with their delicate blooms but if you don’t like too many don’t let them go to seed…

I know men often think that a pristine green sward is the most delightful thing in the garden and every tiny rosette flower should be yanked out post haste. But I like my ‘weeds’, they are so cheerful, Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) also called Pilewort is a useful little herb. (Clue is in the name 😀 ) I love a lawn full of Daisies, traditionally it was used in much the same way we use Arnica now (and it’s local – local herbs for local people!). White honesty looks beautiful beside the purple, the silver seed cases will be gathered later for dried flower arrangements. The fruit trees are just beginning to blossom too, Damson is always first but the cherry and apples will not be far behind…

In the greenhouse there are trays of seedlings waiting to be planted out but they will have to stay until the frosts have passed (June then…) Meantime I keep hoeing off the weeds from the beds. There’s plenty to keep the Hopeful Herbalist busy!

Thanks for stopping by today – what do you most look forward to in the spring garden?

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Sunset in Tangerine & grey

What colour the sunset? – Hard to tell;

muted grey and tangerine,

mustard yellow; almost green.

Darksome clouds with silver lining ,

 golden streamers intertwining.

What colour the sunset? I cannot tell

bewitched by evening twilight spell.

~

April 's sunset song

The swallow, bonny birdie, comes sharp twittering o’er the sea,
   And gladly is her carol heard for the sunny days to be;
She shares not with us wintry glooms, but yet, no faithless thing,
   She hunts the summer o’er the earth with wearied little wing.

The Swallow

Thomas Aird (1802 – 1876)

The list of gardening tasks grow daily and it seems as if I may never catch up. The past few days have been perfect gardening weather and every opportunity has been spent in the garden (hence the lack of posts!) In the bright sunshine the hedges have turned green with new foliage, seemingly overnight. Bright red, flowering currant is filled with bees and hoverflies, as the bumble bees traverse the garden. Speckled thrush sifts the leaf litter searching for slugs and snails, there is also evidence of the hedgehogs nightly visit. Goldfinches flit across the garden and sing overhead as the wren scolds Oscar and I when we inadvertently stray too near her nest. Greenfinch and chaffinch chase across the garden while the dunnocks and house-sparrows scrap in the hedges. The garden is alive with birds and song…

New foliage bursts under azure skies and the beaming suns warmth, in vibrant greens and reds. Small butterflies, emerging from winter hibernation alight gently, warming their wings in new-found heat. Overhead a new sound “cree, cree” two large birds circle in the sky above, a pair of eagles or buzzards ride the thermals. Robins sing and the tits twitter, darting across the garden from tree to tree, examining the lichen, searching the crevices for small insects, while the great tits flit around the beech hedge. Birds are busy everywhere as Mr Pheasant struts along the drive undeterred by sheep or cattle…

The blue periwinkle (Vinca major) has flowered throughout the winter but now sends out slender new shoots to root where they will and new flowers vibrant in the setting sun. My Christmas present of hellebores are still flowering, filling the garden with brightness from winter through spring until the spring bulbs and summer flowers supplant them.

Daffodils still flower and yet the season seems so brief but maybe it’s just that there are other flowers to delight, while the snowdrops flowered alone. Cowslips (Primula veris), Primrose (Primula vulgaris) and the Cowrose or Primslip, that I forgot to remove last year, looks stunning in another part of the garden! Catching up with weeding, I have no idea what I did last year but this seasons growth suggests ‘not much!’ 😀

Flossy and Esme AKA the “Gardening Girls” assist me as I weed, helpfully standing on the hand-tools and snatching weeds from my gloves, or carefully removing seeds from my clothing. While I am on my knees, Flossy eyes my hair and more worryingly my glasses the ‘look‘ seems to deter her. Esme has been feeling poorly for the past week and stays close to her human, waiting for a juicy worm or grub to be unearthed, unfortunately Flossy gets in on the act too but wanders off and Esme settles down to sleep in my shadow as the day grows warmer. The beech trees will unfurl soon in glorious green, earlier than last spring, I search the sky as I’m sure I hear that familiar cry … And suddenly a swoop and cheerful shriek as his shadow falls upon the garden – a swallow returns! Circling the garden, skimming the beeches and pines; deftly turns and sweeps into the shed. Later, searching for the TV aerial to alight upon he is momentarily disappointed, perching on the chimney pot before skimming the garden, announcing his return to the chickens. The following day his partner arrives with much twittering and chatter.

April sunset

Slowly the sun sets, gradually sinking behind the south-end of the island, azure blue sky fading to grey, umber, purple and blues. Blackbird settles in topmost branch of the Alder tree, throws back his head and sings a long, slow goodnight until night softly descends, wrapping the garden in darkness, even as the waxing silver moon rises above the stirring pines. In the twilight two bats dance, plunge into the shadows, emerging into the last embers of light against the backdrop of the purple sea. We sit in the gloaming as the last light slips away, the first stars emerge and all is still except the wind rustling the dry leaves and noisy voles scuttle amongst the leaf litter…

Thanks for stopping by today

 

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”

Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924)

The Secret Garden

 

Spring, the sweet spring, is the year’s pleasant king,

Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,

Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing:

      Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

Thomas Nashe (1567-1601)

Spring, when birds sing and court from every branch and twig; music tumbles over the garden in such a cacophonous, joyous sound. Morning dawns behind the silent pines in pink and purple tones as the lonesome bat returns to roost, pheasants call and lambs bleat in the nearby field. The mountain snow vanishes in the warm spring sun, though the wind remains cold. The grass is almost warm enough to sit upon, almost warm enough to sow. But this is Scotland and frosts are still a danger to the tiny seedlings, in the nursery frames…

Catching up in the garden, dividing large clumps of herbs that have become woody in the centre, splitting them up and replanting in the empty beds. Searching for new seedlings in the leaf litter. Potting up plants, growing on for other gardens. realising that one bed is covered in wild strawberries and I can’t quite bring myself to pull them out – but I know I should!

Now that the house is finished and new guttering in place, the sparrow’s nesting place for the past two years is no more. Having grown up in the city with some of the longest terraces in Europe, and having read that sparrows prefer to live in terraces, our children gifted us with not one but three sparrow terraces! Wrens used one box over winter and several birds have inspected them but as yet none have taken up residency!

I’ve given up trying to plant up this bed, the girls find it is just right for dust baths and sunbathing. Still moulting and still no eggs but they do help eat up the pests and bring amusement to the garden.

Bitter wind today but potatoes need planting, and seedlings potted on, time to wrap up warm and venture out – no doubt the cat and chickens will want to come too! 🙂

Have a good day!

White water

Thoughtless words flow

like wild water to

the sea of despondency

~

This water flows to the sea

~

“Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt!”

Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)

~

Just musing in the garden as I work: thanks for dropping by today, hope it’s a good one!

” And be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,..”

Ephesians 4:32

Daffodil time

Golden in the morning light,

waving in the gentle breeze,

a trumpet voluntary of  Spring.

~

Mum's daffs

Often, it is only after something you took for granted is gone that you truly appreciate its worth and beauty. Growing up, every spring was filled with daffodils in varied shades and shapes. They followed where the snowdrops fled, in stands of bright yellows, pale whites, lemon and gold, nodding in the wind. We have filled churches with them for Mother’s Day, festooned vestibules to welcome Brides and gifted them to elderly ladies. Accompanied by a friend from the city to gather flowers for a service; she stood stock still overcome by the sheer bliss and joy of a field of flowers. She couldn’t believe her eyes! Looking at the photo again I realise just how precious it was and I miss the huge variety of flowers our parents grew.

With each spring we discover new and varied blooms within our garden, although the white daffodil I meant to rescue from the composter last year is surprisingly yellow this! With the warmth and sunshine of the last days of March, the daffodils have broken out into yellow cheerfulness, bejewelled with sparkling raindrops as April showers come our way…

New growth is everywhere, from the pink butterbur (Petasites hybridus) pushing through the cold, damp ground, adding new leaves of bright green as the flowers fade. In the past the large leaves were used to wrap butter, and as a remedy for migraines, allergies and nasal congestion. Ground elder has spread everywhere and unfortunately the “gardening girls” don’t seem to enjoy it; maybe I could interest a chef from a fashionable restaurant to serve it as a vegetable? (Another common name is Bishop’s weed as it was traditionally a remedy for gout.) Forget-me-not peeks out amongst the Aquilegia as the fat bumble bee visits the few flowers providing nectar.

Oscar pleads for a walk in the rain-soaked garden, he doesn’t seem to mind standing in the wet as he listens attentively to the rustling of the leaves in the hope that a vole or shrew give away their hiding place. Taking on the air of a Pointer he stands, foot raised, ready to ambush the quivering tussock of grass. Pairs of chaffinch, blue tits, great tits, gold finch seem unperturbed by his presence and come perilously close before darting away.

The grass has had its first cut, seeds are pushing through the soil, new leaves on the whitethorn and blackthorn, as the leaves on the roses unfurl in deep red and green. From the shelter of the pine trees the pheasant calls his harem as a young female breaks cover and runs across the garden. The garden is alive with new growth, birdsong, and the beech leaves swell and fatten on the twig. Very soon the apple and cherry blossom will break too; and I can try that new recipe for cherry blossom syrup!

 Thanks for stopping by; enjoy the changing season, whether it is to new life or winters sleep.