Gardening with Nature on the Edge of the Atlantic

April Blossoms

12 April 2021

Dunmanus bay

Great excitement today as I had to go to the dentist. This would not be my normal response to such a trip. In fact, I have never looked forward to a visit before. However, today it meant that I was able to take a trip to Bantry town after months of staying within a 5-kilometre range of home apart from the occasional food shopping trip. It was a beautiful day and the drive over the mountain was well worth the pain of the dental procedures. As the rules about lockdown relaxed today, I took a slight detour via Dunmanus bay on the way home. As you can see from the photo above the landscape is a mixture of rocky mountains and fertile land. There are a number of well-known gardens in the area which I had planned to visit this year. Sadly, these visits will probably have to be deferred. In the meantime, the trip was enough to remind me that I live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world should a reminder be necessary.

April blossoms

Every year I am surprised when the blossoms appear on my cherry and crab apple trees. Even more surprising is that they seem to be resilient to the cold and the strong winds that greet their appearance. It is hard to imagine that something so delicate can be so tough. Even more so, when you look at the state of some of my poor hydrangeas which have taken a beating from wind, salt and frost in the same week that these blossoms opened. Today was sunny but blustery and there is not one petal on the ground by evening.

I have four ‘Evereste’ crab apple trees. The buds start as a deep pink opening into an almost white blossom. I have mixed them with the wine leafed ‘Dark Rosaleen’ and ‘Prairie Fire’. All of these provide colour from spring to autumn and the crab apples make excellent cordials.

Malus ‘Prairie Fire’

Malus ‘Gorgeous’ living up to its name

Natural hedgerows

I am very lucky to be surrounded by gardens and farms that are not manicured or fertilised to death. The fields in my little valley still have many of their original hedgerows providing corridors of shelter and food to a range of animals and insects. At the moment the blossoms of the gorse and blackthorn predominate and as you can see from the photos below there is enough to feed a multitude.

The view to the south of my garden

The birds are dependent on these hedgerows and the large areas of rocky land covered in gorse. There are few tall trees in the area and I would imagine that nesting in these would be perilous in the relentless winds. They also need the hedgerows to provide corridors of shelter as they move from one area to the other. My planting in the field has taken this into account and they will be able to travel from the hedgerow at the bottom to the garden proper with ease.

The view to the east of my garden

Although this blackthorn is on my neighbour’s property, I get the benefit of its beautiful blossoms. The fence is to keep my dogs in and is very effective. It is a ‘piece of cake’ to the rabbits and hares who live next door. All the dogs can do is bark in frustration as the former scamper from my garden to safety.

My own hedgerows

I am very pleased with the success of my own hedgerows and they look particularly good this year. Just six years ago this was an open field. Now it offers total protection from the south west gales both to the garden and the many birds that now use it regularly. Sometimes I worry that there is too much berberis throughout its length but only have to look at the profusion of bumble bees feeding on it at the moment to be reassured that they are providing an essential food to a welcome visitor.


The bank behind the house had its bi-annual ‘strim’ last week and the bluebells and violets have taken over. The navel wort is just starting to flower and will last most of the year. This is just the start of a succession of wildflowers which will attract bees and insects until well into the autumn.

I always loved to see the primroses in the hedgerows as a child. They usually appeared in small clusters. In this garden they grow wild in large clumps and are full of flowers. It always amazes me how well plants do when you leave well alone which has become my definition of gardening for wildflowers.

A thick cluster of primroses that has taken over a shady area near an old stone wall.

Wild animals

I think that this little creature is too small to be the cause of my sleepless nights. However, together with my dogs, he/she is managing to make the day as noisy as the night. Who said that living in the country was peaceful?

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