An Extended Winter

Storm Kathleen has passed, leaving me with yet another puzzle to work out in the garden. This area at the top of the drive is bordered by Elaeagnus hedges to protect the garden proper. They are thick and dense and impossible to penetrate. Kathleen has left many of the bushes almost bare of leaves and in this corner, there is now a tunnel with almost no vegetation at all. It is as if a mini tornado has blasted through the narrow area taking everything with it. This is the third such tunnel to appear in the garden in the last few years after a particularly bad storm and I have no idea how it happens. If only they would occur where I need to create paths.

When there is shelter almost anything can survive a storm – this Cornus controversa and the Pieris ‘Forest Flame’ are a perfect example of this.

These shrubs are undeterred by the regular fog that has accompanied the rain. I, on the other hand, choose to spend much of my time indoor. A very unusual occurrence for April.

The wildflowers are totally impervious to storms, salt and drought. They have been blossoming for months now and are creating an impressive display already, albeit in minature, around the garden. Many of them are tiny and hard to see. I have to remind any helpers in the garden to leave them alone. I could try and enhance the area by sowing more dramatic wildflowers, but I have taken the decision to allow the original specimens to find their own way without competition from outsiders. In this small area there are at least twenty different varieties and the number will increase as the months progress.

It may be small, but this Field Woundwort is very lovely and like all the other wildflowers was not phased by Storm Kathleen. Apparently it contains a mild antiseptic hence its use to treat wounds in the past.

The ornamental cherry trees are one of the most robust small trees in the garden. This Prunus ‘Ananogowa’ (Flagpole Cherry) started to flower just before the storm. It tends to look its best against a blue sky, but I gave up trying for the perfect picture. Maybe next year.

Details of the flowers from the Flagpole Cherry looking a little ragged after Storm Kathleen but still beautiful.

I believe that sparrows are the most prevalent bird in Britain and Ireland. They were rare visitors to the garden until this winter when a large flock graced me with their presence. They are a noisy crowd and I looked forward to hearing them as they surrounded me at one of the bird feeders. I haven’t seen many since the storm and I hope they have not abandoned the garden for calmer places.

The leaves and the buds of this Prunus ‘Okumiyako shogetsu’ remained very healthy but any flowers looked a bit bedraggled after the storm and probably won’t last as long as usual.

This is one of the most graceful cherry blossoms hanging as it does like a delicate chandelier. Despite their vulnerable appearance they are are surprisingly strong. This photograph was taken the day after the storm.

Malus ‘Gorgeous’ living up to its name.

Some new tulips with Malus ‘Gorgeous’ in the background. This is part of my attempt to create colour early in the year without losing bulbs to mice and other bulb ‘predators’ . So far so good.

Despite my location, I have been adding to my very small Acer collection and I thought that I had found the perfect sheltered for this Acer palmatum ‘Oridono-nishiki’. This photograph was taken just before Storm Kathleen. I am still assessing the damage now that the storm has passed.

Sadly this is the damage. This Acer is a good example of the effects that salt-laden winds can have on young leaves (and even old ones for that matter). Some shrubs have been affected more than others and it remains to be seen if they produce a second set of leaves. Even if they do, I can’t imagine that it is very good for the plant overall.

It never fails to amaze me how some plants quietly go about their business regardless of the conditions in which they are living. I almost missed this Bleeding heart as it nestled quietly in the border.

I use Golden oregano anywhere in the garden where I want a burst of colour that lasts all year. It is particular good in a rockery and combined with sea pinks has given a welcome burst of colour through the the very dull and extended winter.

There has been a mixed response by the Crab Apples to Storm Kathleen depending on their location in the garden. This Malus ‘Prairie Fire’ has listed to the left slightly over the years but there is no other evidence of storm damage. Its neighbours have not been so lucky. I can only hope that the unprecedented number of storms have now run their course and that the garden can have a chance to recover.


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