Waiting Impatiently for Spring

30 January 2023

I am not usually envious of other people, but recent visits to my local village have been turning me green. Here on the coast the winds are rarely benevolent and we are still having frosts and days when the wind chill can reduce the temperature dramatically. My camellias continue to hang back while those in the village are covered in masses of open flowers. Even my Californian Lilac has not produced any flowers for the first time in years.

My hellebores were producing a lovely display and seem to thrive at the back of my shrubberies by the old dry-stone walls. This is a Harvington White Speckled hellebore. However, some are providing a new puzzle for me to solve. I have no idea what has happened to the one in the next picture but I don’t think that rabbits are the culprit. As I found the petals by the hawthorn trees where dozens of birds wait for me to fill the feeder each day, I am guessing that they are doing the shredding.

Each year I grit my teeth as my small herbaceous bed turns into a black, brown and partially slimy mess. Each year it all seems worthwhile when the birds start mining for seeds just outside my kitchen window. Blue tits and goldfinches seem particularly partial to whatever is available. I like this photograph although it was taken through the window as it shows the lovely colours on the wings of the bird which are as striking as those on its head.

The hedgerow on my drive has received a proper haircut and is looking very neat. I planted it a little over ten years ago and it provides the perfect windbreak on windy days. In retrospect I probably over planted it but I had no great faith that anything would grow in such a windy spot.

In the absence of flowers, I have to be content with the interesting seed heads that are adorning the bushes.

I am experimenting with planting some more delicate plants in my newly cleared sheltered area. This witch Hazel has survived the winter and although very small is producing a nice display of colour.

The Salix Mount Aso is just starting to produce its vividly coloured catkins which are very cheerful during dull days. My attempts to take cuttings have failed so far which is a pity as I would like to have a few more throughout the garden.

In the absence of flowers I am dependent on other sources of colour. This Sorbaria Sorbifolia is looking particularly cheerful and is one of the first shrubs to produce leaves this year.

At times my planting may seem unconventional but there is usually a plan. I have placed small trees and shrubs throughout the garden so that the birds never have to cross large, open spaces. The reward came the other day when this singing thrush perched on small tree outside the kitchen and sang its heart out. There are usually two or three on the highest trees in the garden but this is the first time that one has perched so close to the house. A lovely end to the day.

I have been visiting my one beautiful double white hellebore specimen Anna each day waiting for the flowers to open fully. Today this was all that is left. I rather like the photograph as it reminds me of part of a painting by a Dutch master but would prefer the untouched blossoms. In the past rabbits have tended to eat the whole hellebore plant and leave no evidence. Therefore, I think that I may need to add small birds to my list of cute garden terrorists which include hares, rabbits, mice, and my dog Millie.

The Double White Anna in all of its glory last year.


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