13 April 2020
At the moment the rough land surrounding the house is ablaze with two main colours. The vivid yellow of the gorse and the lovely white flowers of the Blackthorn (Prunus Spinosa). The former appears to flower all year round here and although it dies back in the occasional winter, it seems unperturbed by the climate here. I have mixed feelings about it as it continues to try and get a hold in the garden and I have to patrol for new plants on a regular basis. On the other hand, it is vital for the wildlife here providing both food and shelter. Its thick stems also produce the hottest fires and are a useful addition to the stove in winter. The blossoms of the blackthorn are very beautiful and this is a very practical, native tree gracing many of the hedgerows here and providing much needed shelter to man and beast alike. In the autumn they produce a deep blue berry – or sloe – used to make sloe gin. My one experience of tasting this ‘delight’ has marked me for life and this is one fruit that I will not be harvesting for my cordials.
The hillside behind my house completely covered by gorse and Blackthorn bushes. In summer, heathers will join them in a burst of deep pink.
15 April 2020
Within the garden everything has suddenly come to life. Amelanchier ‘Snowy Mespillis ’ is one of the first blossoms to appear. I planted two of these behind the house when I first arrived without giving much thought to what they required. The fact that they are thriving in a few inches of soil and a wind tunnel shows how forgiving they are. In the picture below you can see one framed against the setting sun on the gorse filled hill behind the house.
The Amelanchier have quickly been joined by the crab-apple blossom. For some reason I have made the assumption that these are delicate trees and so planted five of them with trepidation five years ago. They have settled in very well and provide an abundance of blossom and apples each year. I have now added five more to the collection. Not only are they very beautiful but at this moment are providing food to an impressive number of bees and other insects. This is exactly what I am trying to achieve here so I am very pleased with the result. I am slightly torn in the Autumn though as both the birds and Millie share the crab apples between them and I have never managed to collect enough for jelly for my larder.
20 April 2020
The view to Cape Clear seen through the crab-apple stand.
Mallus Evereste. This has flowered consistently for four years and shows no signs of wear and tear from the many storms this winter. The blossoms start out as a deep pink and open to a creamy white flower. The fruit is orange yellow often with a deep pink blush.
Malus ‘Prarie Fire’. The blossoms on this tree start out a vibrant deep pink and fade to a light pink as they age. This contrasts well with the deep wine leaves. This is another crab-apple tree that is in a very exposed position and does not seem to care.
After the success of the crab-apple trees I decided to take a chance and planted some cherry trees last winter. For some reason I have assumed that these too are delicate trees and that they lose their blossom at the first puff of wind. All my trees were put to the test a few weeks ago when we had a day of stormy weather. Not one blossom was disturbed and they are all still giving me pleasure two weeks later.
The very graceful Prunus Okumiyako Shogetsu
Prunus Amanagowa providing a tree full of blossom despite exposure to the gales throughout the winter.
After the success of these two trees I have now revised my opinion of their hardiness. I also decided to add some more beside the pathway bordering my fruit garden. Sadly, Covid-19 put a stop to these and many other plans but I hope to pick up where I left off next winter.
Some trees in garden do get some shelter and this Cornus ‘Controversa Variegata’ is beginning to mature nicely in an area of the copse where other trees either fell or had to be removed after storm Darwin. The pink on the left are the spring leaves of Pieris ‘Forest Flame’.
25 April 2020
The bank at the back of the house is now overrun with Bluebells, Greater Stitchwort, Germander Speedwell and Ground ivy seen below. In fact, the wild flowers are starting to take over the garden in any space that I leave free. The Ground Ivy is described in the guides as aromatic although I am not enamoured with the scent.
A Bluebell struggling to emerge from one of the dry-stone walls bordering my drive
Ground Ivy which inhabits almost all of the shady areas in the garden.
This is Groundsel ‘Senecio Vulgaris’ a common weed with very attractive black markings on its flower heads. I did not pay much attention to this plant until I noticed how striking these were. They tend to become more obvious when their downy seeds start to join the dandelions in their flight throughout the garden. However now that I have noticed that the seeds seem to be particular favourite of goldfinches, I make a point of letting them seed wherever possible.
Apart from reporting that my potatoes and onions are doing well I have little good news of my attempts to expand my vegetable crop without the benefit of a polytunnel or greenhouse . After three weeks on the windowsill in the garage I have now three small pea plants out of 12. Every other seed tray is empty and I can’t even blame Millie!