This weird spring

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Chionodoxa, Spring’s little gem. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again everyone. I hope you are keeping well. The weather has turned fine these past few days since my last post and it has been a joy to be able to escape into the garden. Whilst the world is in shut-down, Mother Nature is carrying on as usual.

This very week, 16 years ago, I moved to Scotland and took over a much neglected garden. There was not much in flower back in April 2004, but by the following spring, with a little TLC, the first Chionodoxa magically appeared (I didn’t plant them) and have been coming up each spring ever since. They love the sunny flowerbeds and paths and are poking through everywhere at the moment. In contrast, their relation, Scilla, prefer the cooler, damper, shadier part of the garden. In the low light, their bluish-lilac flowers seem to glow with a luminous quality.

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In the shade of a tree, Scilla flowers blooming. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Another shade lover, is the primrose. There are 2 varieties in the garden at the moment. The bushy yellow one flowers just for spring whilst the paler variety is in bloom and and off for several months of the year. There are several primrose clumps now; they seed themselves and multiply every year, and really do brighten up a dark corner.

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Scottish primroses. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

There were a few tasks to get on with at the weekend. One of which was to prune the bay tree-bush which has got a bit wild. I ended up with a huge trug full of bay leaves – they will keep me going for a very long time!

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Springtime bay pruning. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

One of the first tasks I can remember tackling in the garden that first spring, was to dead-head the Hydrangeas. The papery flower heads act as a natural frost protector for the buds and leaves forming on the stem below. This is one of my most enjoyable annual tasks in the garden mainly because it doesn’t involve too much bending ūüôā

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Bucket of dry Hydrangea flowers. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

My final image this week is of a Ribes Sanguineum or the flowering currant bush. It has been looking a bit sad for the past couple of years, but after a rigorous pruning last Autumn, it has come back to full flower and is looking much healthier. I love the blackcurrant aroma that the flowers have.

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Flowering currant bush. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

That’s me for another week or so. Enjoy the outdoors if you are able, and keep safe. Until next time, take care.

 

The end of winter

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In full bloom at the end of February, white Pieris Japonica and pink Rhododendron. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Today is officially the meteorological end of winter, which means that tomorrow is the first day of spring; hoorah to that! It has been a very warm and sunny end to a month that has been one of the mildest Februarys on record across the whole of the UK. It has been a pleasure to be out-of-doors, so many birds are singing and there are many insects buzzing all round the garden.

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A busy bee in the sunshine collecting pollen from a dogtooth violet. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Looking back over previous blog entries, I can see that every image I am posting this week is 2 to 4 weeks earlier than in previous posts. The snowdrops have been glorious this year, and have grown in thick white and green carpets both in the garden and in nearby hedgrows. For the first time I can recall I was able to detect their sweet and spicy fragrance as the sun shone on the blooms. I took this image a few days ago just as the fine weather started in earnest. The snowdrops in the sunny parts of the garden have gone over now, but there are a few clusters still lighting up the shady corners of the borders and under the thickest hedges.

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Snowdrops enjoying the sunshine. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It has been a good year for crocus too. The bulbs I planted last year in an old wooden barrel have put on a very colourful display. They have recently been joined by Tête-à-tête, which are also growing all round the garden, giving a sunny glow and a sweet aroma to many of the flower beds.

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Large wooden barrel of crocus. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Narcissus Tête-à-tête. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Last weekend I spotted the first tiny blue dot in one of the paths which was a sign that my favorite of all spring flowers, the Chionodoxa, were on their way. Sure enough, over the course of the next few days, small electric-blue clumps of star-shaped flowers have sprung up all over the place.

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Striking blue Chionodoxa. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

It’s not only the flowers that are excelling themselves this year, the rhubarb patch¬†is very much alive¬†and kicking. I love the bright red stems of the new shoots and curled leaves. The stems look tempting enough to eat already, but I will resist and be patient.

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A fairy ring of young rhubarb shoots. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I have posted plenty of Hellebore pictures in the past, and I end my post this week with another one. This beauty was new to the garden last year and has¬†only 3¬†flowers, but the blooms are delightful. I hope it thrives in its new location, and look forward to seeing more blooms in the future. Until next time, happy Spring ūüôā

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Double white speckled Hellebore. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

 

Spring sprang, then winter returned….

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The blue star-shaped flowers of Chionadoxa. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

We had a lovely, blue-sky Easter weekend here in central Scotland; I was able to spend several hours working outside¬†(without a coat!) and taking¬†my images for this week’s post. However, come Easter Monday, the temperature dipped again, ¬†it snowed,¬†and just about everything¬†I photographed¬†disappeared under a layer of white slush.

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Chionadoxa in the snow. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Spring flower bed. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I will never tire of these vibrant blue, star-shaped spring flowers. In the sun-light, they dazzle with vibrancy, and in the gloom, they take on an almost iridescent quality. They seem quite hardy and I can see that they haven’t been crushed by the weight of the snow.

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Chionadoxa and a Dog-tooth violets. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

It’s been a marvellous¬†year for crocus. I have never known so many come into flower. Apart from the ones I transplanted into a wooden barrel last year, there are small clumps all over the garden¬†which seemed to ¬†have appeared from nowhere. I think the Crocus fairies¬†were busy planting when my back was turned.

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My barrel of mixed crocus, the white variety looked particularly stunning in the sunshine. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Shades of pink and purple Crocus planted by the fairies. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Most of the spring flowers in my garden are shades of blue, yellow and white, but these tulips fellow are an exception. Always the first to flower, long before the rest of the tulips, and this year, ahead of the daffodils.

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Early dwarf tulips. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

To round off my flowery post this week, I have a wonderful display of Hellebores again this year. They have been slow to open up, but are¬†now¬†in full bloom¬†and glory. They are quite magnificent, and because they grow in the sheltered parts of the garden, they are not snow-bound ūüôā¬†Have a good¬†week.

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Spring blues

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Chionodoxa. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Long before the bluebells flower, my garden is swathed in the electric-blue colour from the blooms of hundreds of Chionodoxa. Every spring these hardy, yet very tiny, bulbs sprout up everywhere: in the flower beds, up through the gravel in the paths, all over the rockery, and in the barren earth where nothing much else is growing yet. They seed themselves and seem to appear in greater numbers each March.

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Blue carpet of Chionodoxa. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

This weekend, the sun shone brightly and the Chionodoxa were in full bloom. I expect that by next weekend the blooms will have begun to fade and the bulbs will begin their retreat back into the ground where they will lay dormant until next year.

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Chionodoxa growing up through the gravel paths. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Chionodoxa basking in the spring sunshine. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Whilst Chionodoxa like the open space and bright locations in the garden, Scilla prefer the shady¬†parts which don’t get any direct sunshine. I found this newly opened little group growing amongst the roots of the Japanese Maple tree in the back garden. Scilla flowers lack the dazzling white star shape of the Chionodoxa petals, but they have an almost luminous quality, glowing from the shadows. Up close, you can see the tiny, glowing yellow centres; they were a true delight to discover.

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Scilla. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Single Scilla flower. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

One more spring flower that was at its peak this week is the Dogtooth Violet (Erythronium Dens Cannis). So pretty and dainty when it first opens with its hanging head of delicate pinky-lilac petals, but after a few days, it raises its head, turns up its petals and transforms into a slightly sinister-looking, upright bloom, revealing just how it gets its name. In my garden, it grows in a cluster on the rockery amidst all the Chionodoxa. These unusual looking “violets”¬†with their strange spotty foliage make a striking contrast in amongst the bright blue and green of the tiny Chionodoxa.

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Dogtooth violet newly opened and in full bloom. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Striking blooms and foliage of the Dogtooth violet. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

One final image for this post: I saw my favourite insect in the garden today, also enjoying the sunshine. The first one this year, tucking into some aphids on a geranium leaf.

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My first ladybrid of spring. Image: Kathryn Hawkins