Archives for posts with tag: Spring

Suddenly the garden is filled with surprise. Every day I venture out there is something new to delight my childlike heart. Snowdrops garlanded with raindrops. Winter Aconite – Eranthis hyemalis, shines like gold in the morning sun; and Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis) in bud…

From the bedroom window, the first dainty blossoms shine like fallen stars, closer inspection reveals delicate, pale blossoms on the slender bough. First hawthorn leaves are bright green in the leafless hedgerow…

 Early crocus (C. tommasinianus) punctuate the lawn as I hurriedly planted in the Autumn, not eaten by the voles but flourishing under  the birch and beech. The first daffodils, their gold petals beginning to burst from their protective capsule. How glorious the Spring garden as winter flees, the warmth and sun returns and the garden takes on colour  once again…


Every day in the garden is filled with wonder

Thanks for stopping by today

February Sunset

As slowly light returns

pushing back the boundary

of darkness;

Winter yields to Spring,

As new greens rend the drabness.

Even in seeming chaos

Ordered growth encircles us

Bringing Hope, gentle Gladness


A constant, gentle drumming on the old slate roof as the grey clouds relinquish their burden of rain over the land. The ribbon of tarmac, a river of rain water rushing into culvert and burn. Yesterday’s frost long forgotten, golden sunsets consumed in greyness. Sea and sky meld into uniform colour, horizon barely visible, hiding the land beyond. But somewhere beyond the clouds the sun is still shining…

From the moss and litter of beech leaves Snowdrops spread in white drifts across the garden. Light in the darkness, brightness in the shadows. Life is filled with contrasts – health, ill-health, gladness, sadness, life or death. So much taken for granted until suddenly confronted by the enormity of a sudden change in circumstances. But on this journey I have discovered it is not a journey walked in solitude but accompanied by a great cloud of witnesses. I’m so grateful and humbled by messages of hope and prayer from all around the world and at home. Surrounded by such good friends and family and the assurance of a loving God who will never leave or abandon us. Tomorrow is another step into the unknown before more surgery. I believe You’re gonna be ok

Thanks for stopping by today



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?

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

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.

Waiting is never easy, waiting for the garden to return to life after winters bleakness; waiting for a phone call or test results, waiting for a parcel to be delivered; we are just not cut out for waiting. Unusually, we have just experienced a busier than usual Holy Week. Each night as we closed the front door, Oscar sat bemused and looking a little reproachful, no fire to curl up beside, no one to chase or plead hunger with; an empty house, again. An evening of waiting. After the promise of spring last week, cold wet weather has returned and I feel a little vexed for the bride and groom today and hope for an hour respite from the wind and rain. And we wait for Katy to storm over our Isle.

What to do with the day between “Good Friday” (Or Black or Bad Friday as some of my continental friends refer to it) and Easter Sunday? For us non-conformists it is a strange day, some sort of – nothingness, we don’t hold Easter vigils, but will stand on the windswept beach in the morning, in the stinging rain and celebrate Easter Morning. Maybe empty Saturday, that time “between Good Friday and Easter Day confirms the reality of Jesus’ death. …He genuinely lies in the grave, dead.” (Jane Williams ‘Approaching Easter.”)


Working in the garden over this past week, weeding, clearing, raking out the moss, I discovered that already many seedlings are breaking through the soil having lain dead in the ground for a season. There is hope and a promise. Snowdrops that have cheered our wintered souls, now tattered and tinged with brown, fade and die as spring returns. Now the garden is festooned in bright yellow as the daffodils take their place. Tiny lesser celandine light up the mossy grass, turning their cheerful faces to the sun.

Daisies open, tracking the sun throughout the day, Hellebore holds her flowers in shades of palest greens and red. Bright crimson flowers of the Japanese Quince and the flowering currant attract the first bees, while the first butterflies flit across the garden. We have all been waiting. Spring has come and with it new life, Easter lambs gambol in the fields, birds adorn the cherry tree and sing, nest building begins…

Moss detail

Even the tiniest plants put on growth. We wait in hope, in peacefulness, in the assurance that all will return to life. Be still and wait…

 Thanks for stopping by today – Happy Easter !

An Easter Gift

On Holy Saturday I do my best to live in that place, that wax-crayon place of trust and waiting. Of accepting what I cannot know.

Of mourning what needs to be mourned. Of accepting what needs to be accepted. Of hoping for what seems impossible.”

Jerusalem Jackson Greer

Feathers in the sky

As some have divining instincts 

For water, gold or diamond,

Can tell by a twitch or a scent,

So others, I among them,

Have a similar gift to tell

Of a season changing. It’s not

In the power of one sense only

Or the habit of memory.

If I could tell the causes

I’d lose the knack or gift...’

Instinct for Seasons

Elizabeth Jennings (1926- )

In Scotland, every day of sunshine is a gift; people flood outdoors, putting on a smile with their warm clothes and walking shoes. Gardeners rush outside in a frenzy of busy-ness, garden chairs swept clear of leaves and turned to face the sun. Overhead the trees are filled with chirping birds, charming their way to avian hearts. Every crevice and axil of the trees winter bark inspected for sheltering  insects; the first sleepy bugs luxuriating in the new found sun…

With warmth and light, flowers open, petals unfurl adding brightness to the muted garden, tired of wintered colour, longing for the return of blue skies and insect drone…

New foliage in stunning shades of green and bronze, petals in perfect pattern, intricate stamens and styles awaiting the pollinators return; Blackthorn and Flowering Blackcurrant unfold tightly held buds in vivid tones…

Under the welcome sun the sea itself is calm and still, reflecting the pale sky and white clouds; as twilight falls and the garden once more resounds with birdsong, filling the tranquil air with melody and counter melody. The weather may be fickle but golden days are rare like Scottish gold; days to be treasured and lived. Tomorrow will arrive with rain…




Snowfall on Arran

Suddenly it’s March, the setting sun lights up the snowy mountains, a North wind blows and the garden shivers. Days grow longer if not warmer; the setting sun wreaths the island in ribbons of red and orange.

Wrapped in several layers and making the most of recent dry weather, the increasing piles of garden rubbish have been cleared. The sweet smell of wood smoke drifts across the garden, the wheelbarrow filled with compost materials as flower beds are tidied and perennials cut back; already plants are springing back to life.

Little lily

Throughout the long, dark, wet winter days, the pink lily (Schizostylis coccinea) has brightened the sullen garden. Saved from the chaos of the overgrown plot, several small clumps now flower throughout the winter.


Shrubs decimated by the sellers have re-established themselves, already blossoming, nectar for the first insects stirring. Unable to prune in Autumn, there are shrubs needing cut back that should have been removed long ago that now take up too much space and light…


Colour returns in the form of spring bulbs, crocus, hyacinths and daffodils..


Somehow, last year areas of neglect seemed to abound, yet the snowdrops have flowered in spite of the near constant storms. Meanwhile in the cooler, shaded areas some are just beginning to bloom. For the first time in years, no snowdrops have graced our table, normally we would have gathered some for mum…

Raindrops on Aquilegia

Usually quite content in my own company, an unexpected wave of loneliness envelopes me with a longing for the company of friends and family, the bustle of the city. An unbidden melancholy…

March sdunset

In the golden embers of a day that is neither truly winter nor spring; listening to the birdsong cascade across the garden; the seagulls cry rising on the bitter wind…

Sunset March

Breathing in the pure, clear air, bathed in the golden light of the setting sun, blackbirds quarrel, sparrows chirp, robins compete for the sweetest tune. Shy dunnocks gather fallen seed from the busy blue tits. Soon the last melodies fade away, only the wind moans through the trees, the whisper of the waves against the distant shore, first stars brighten the evening sky. In the shadows the empty garden benches extend an invitation. Waiting for warmer days and summer visitors….

The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.
–  Gertrude S. Wister

Snowdrops have flowered through the wet and windy days, now tattered and mud-spattered, still they evoke such joy in wintered hearts. Hidden in cooler frost pockets, some are only just beginning to bud, extending the joy for a few days more. All over the garden bulbs are pushing through the cold ground, Leucojum, crocus, bluebell, daffodil, grape hyacinth and Allium – assuring the gardener of a colourful Spring..

Lenten Rose The Lenten Rose (Helebore niger) break into flower, as the first primrose flowers in palest yellow, blooms in the sheltered hedgerows.

Glowing sunset

Late evening; the setting sun washes the bare branches in rich hue as tiny buds begin to green upon the bough…

Sunset song

Sunset; as already the sun has journeyed North, a welcome glow in the Western sky…

Moon rise behind the trees

And the silver moon looms large behind the trees, garden filled with light and touched with frost. Finally the moon sets in the early morning above the sea, which just a few hours previously hosted the sun…

Sing off - Robin & Chaffinch

The moon declines in brightening sky, robin and chaffinch sharing the same tree sing across the garden, welcoming the new day.

Afternoon sunshine

We all cherish the strengthening sun, its warmth and light, blue skies, blue sea, suddenly everything comes to life again after winters sleep…

Gardening girls at dusk

“A gardener must not feel sorry for himself, even in winter, no matter how great the cause”

Henry Mitchell

The Essential Earthman (1981)

We got enthusiastic in the garden, planting up, potting on, hoeing off the weeds and now my back protest-eth much! This too will pass!

Thanks for stopping by today – remember to limber up before plunging into the garden! 🙂