Waiting for Spring


2 April 2021

The rest of the country is basking in sunshine while this valley is shrouded in a sea mist. Coupled with a biting east wind it is not a day for outdoor gardening and it is the kind of weather when I particularly miss having a greenhouse or polytunnel to work in. For the moment all I can do is listen to the progress my friends are making in bringing on their vegetables in the comfort of their polytunnels and hope that they take pity on me when they are harvesting them.

My first planting of the field is finished. All of the shrubs and trees are watered and covered in wet cardboard and then mulched with shredded material from the dead trees and branches in the garden. This will keep them moist through the summer and any watering will be an extra bonus rather than a necessity. This is the technique that I have used throughout the planting of the garden from the beginning and it has proved to be very successful. It is amazing to peel back the remains of the cardboard mid-summer to find the ground still moist regardless of the weather. Usually there is also an abundance of worms who seem to like the protection of the cardboard too.

Although rather dull at the moment I always like these views of the hillside garden. Them are a reminder of how much can be achieved regardless of the climate. The hillside in the background is a mirror image of the way my hillside used to look. As the months move on the colour in the shrubberies will take over and it is now a very sheltered and peaceful area. This is evidenced in the fact that in recent years blackbirds and thrushes have moved in and can be seen flitting about this part of the garden as well as in the hedgerows on the driveway.

This is another view of the hillside. There is now a very sheltered area at the bottom of the hill and it is possible to sit in the sunshine at all times of the year as the area is completely sheltered from all winds. I do love the fact that almost every view from the garden shows large areas of untouched gorse and rock in the background a constant reminder of the wildness surrounding me which provides dense protection for a variety of creatures.

The small copse next to the house was decimated by Darwin and the storms that battered this area before and after ‘the big storm’. Instead of replacing all of the trees I have planted a shrubbery of camellias and rhododendron. This year the latter are covered in blossom and whilst still small I hope they will eventually grow to fill out the area in my lifetime.

I consider this Camilla japonica ‘Mathoniana Alba’ to be one of the most beautiful camellias in the garden. It is thriving amongst the mature trees and seemed resistant to the effects of frost until last night.

Another Camellia Japonica thriving in the copse

I have also added mixed shrubberies throughout the mature trees in the hope that they will cut down the impact of the winter winds and allow for the planting of some more delicate trees such as acers in the future. I start with a base of reliable shrubs such as eleagnus and have added camellias, skimmea japonica and hydrangea over the years.

This set of shrubberies has provided essential protection for the rhododendron which are nowhere as hardy as their neighbouring camellias. The muddy paths are provided courtesy of the dogs and are a permanent feature in all parts of the garden. Given the speed at which they tear after imaginary and real invaders I am impressed that they have never injured a shrub or tree. This is a much more impressive record than my own!

This area was once a tangle of badly trimmed sycamore which were removed after Darwin. I have built up a layer of protection on the west side and hope to plant some acer and other delicate trees this year.

Birds

Recently the feeding area on the drive way has been inundated with flocks of goldfinches, greenfinches and chaffinches. I read a report recently that goldfinches are on the decline in England. Judging by my garden they have all emigrated here. Perhaps they appreciate the superior (and expensive) sunflower hearts. In fact, since I have used this as bird food all of the other seeds in a mixed bag of food are ignored.

The post supporting one of my birdhouses collapsed last week. It had only been in the ground for two years and was rotten through and through. It just shows you how wet it has been for the last few years. The greenfinches don’t seem to mind that their feeding station has moved although I will need to find a more robust support soon so that they can have their bird bath back.

9 April 2021

New wildflowers continue to appear each day despite the unseasonably cold weather. Sadly, some of my hydrangea have taken a battering over the last few nights despite no obvious frosts in the morning. More cold weather is predicted and I am looking forward to the arrival of a ‘proper’ spring soon.


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