No End to Winter


After weeks of storms, torrential rain and thunder and lightning, it is hard to imagine ever gardening again. Going out to walk the dogs, feed the birds and search for even one sign of hope in the garden all require energy and tenacity – not to mention a mountain of clothes. The dogs quickly vote with their feet and can be found waiting for me by the back door if I linger in the garden. I don’t ever remember so many thunderstorms in such a short space of time, but the skies do produce some dramatic colours.

The Camellia ‘Bushfield’s Yellow’ is the second to blossom in the garden this year. It is a very attractive flower but does not do well in very cold weather turning a rather ugly rust brown. I hope no more open in the next few days as it is promising to be particularly cold.

The birds seem to be reasonably fussy about the crab apples and they made short work of the Malus Gorgeous in the autumn. They do not seem so keen on Evereste and Sylvestris and the weather has been turning those remaining into works of art. I am particularly fond of this one that has survived well into January and it is almost impossible to recognise it as a crab apple.

The mushrooms have started to appear again despite the weather. This one was well advanced before I noticed it but I am pretty sure that it is a Blewit as it is growing in the area that was covered with them just a few weeks ago. The metamorphosis is amazing as can be seen from an earlier specimen in the next photograph. I particularly like the delicate mottled lilac stem and lilac gills.

My attempts to improve my photographs of birds have been thwarted by the weather. Not only has it been very wet but it has also been bitterly cold. Sadly, the shaking of my freezing hands does not cancel out the shaking of the trees and the quick dashes of the birds to the feeders. This robin was kind enough to stay still for a moment but then it was waiting for me to fill the feeder so it was worth its while.

The bark of the dogwood offer vibrant colour in the winter when you can clearly see the stems. This Cornus ‘Alba Siberica’ is one of the more luminous red dogwoods and I prefer it to its darker relatives. This appears to have been colonised by lichen to dramatic effect within a short space of time as it is pruned each year.

The Cornus ‘Sanguina’ is also a striking colour, but this plant does not grow as vigorously as its relatives in this garden.

The white quince has followed its red companion and has an abundance of buds just ready to open.

I am monitoring my Hellebores daily and have surrounded some of the more vulnerable ones with chicken wire. It did not deter the rabbits last year but I have not been able to find an alternative that will allow me to see the blossoms if they survive.

This beauty survives intact each year as it is planted in a pot just outside the back door of the house. It would take a very brave or foolish rabbit to venture so close to three energetic dogs.

Another beautiful bark colonised by a number of different lichens.

The Himalayan birch is one of the few trees that does not grow lichen on its trunk presumably as it loses its bark each year.

This year many small birds are using my feeders.


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