Daily Gifts

Despite another cold spell, the garden is full of surprises. After over eight years the Eleagnus shrubs have started producing fruit. This one is covered in thousands of fruits in every stage of development. It is interesting that almost all are growing on the side of the plant facing north where there is some protection from the prevailing winds and salt. I am waiting to see how many will mature and whether they will be popular with the birds.

The Camellias in the copse are beginning to come into their own and have been well worth the wait. This is Camellia X Spring festival.

I have planted Berberis throughout the garden and they are one of the first shrubs to flower in spring. I have at least four different varieties three of which start to produce flowers in late winter. They are well suited to this area and form part of my hedgerows around the property.

This year the Beberis Juliana is covered in flowers and on a recent sunny day was attracting bees, ladybirds and other creatures. The first of the year!

Another first was this small tortoiseshell which appeared on the same day as the ladybirds. I always have mixed feelings when I see such creatures out so early as the days and evenings are still very cold.

My Mount Aso willow continues to go through its metamorphoses as it changes from a deep pink to a rather dull dark grey. In the early stages, the catkin has what appears to be a small beak and the plant can look as if it is populated by hundreds of pink birds.

The final stages of colour.

The birds have continued to eat me out of house and home and most varieties seem unafraid of my presence as I fill the feeders. This male chaffinch is waiting in the hawthorn trees which have proved to provide the most effective protection from predators.

This female chaffinch is on a favourite branch by one of the feeders on the driveway. It is close enough to a hedgerow if cover is required. However, I will have to review the other feeders which are less protected as I think I have lost one of a pair of collared doves to a predator. It is very sad to see the single survivor as they always travelled as a pair and I hope it finds another mate.

My ‘Gun’s’ willow is also looking its best at the moment. I have named it after the friend who gave me cuttings, as everyone who sees it gives it a different name. To date it is the toughest willow in the garden. The pink hue in the background is from the Mount Aso Willow.

At last, a full show on a camellia bush. This Bushfield’s Yellow is a relatively new plant in an area that I developed a little over a year ago and is obviously settling in well.

Kerria Japonica is one of my favourite spring shrubs as it reminds me of my childhood garden. I have no idea why it is flourishing here as I only planted it in a fit of nostalgia with no expectation that it would survive. It has been flowering for a few weeks now and has not been bothered by the frosts.

This Hellebore has remained intact although it neighbours are being eaten by the birds. It looks as if it is dressed for a day at the races.

The full extent of the protection required to keep my Hellebores from being eaten.

I have been protecting the new plants in the field with twigs and small branches from the garden proper and have also started creating mounds of twigs and small branches as havens for small animals. This turkey tail fungus has been my reward. I have never seen one in real life before and it feels as if all of my Christmases have come at once.

This fungus was growing close to the turkey tails in the field. As yet I have not identified it, but the presence of both has encouraged me to build more ‘twig forts’ throughout the garden. So much for a formal garden!

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