March blues and blossoms

Hello again everyone. Here we are almost at the end of another month. There has been a big transformation in the garden since my last out-of-doors update at the beginning of the month. We had a lovely spell of warm, sunny weather last week and as a consequence there are flowers and plants in bloom everywhere. This time of year certainly lifts the spirits as everything comes to life with such vibrancy and splendor.

The beds, paths and borders are once again covered in a blue carpet of tiny Chionodoxa. I did a bit of reading on the species and their common name is Glory of the Snow. We had a lot of the white stuff lying in February so I am wondering whether this has had something to do with the fact that there are so many this year.

Whilst the Chionodoxa have done very well this year, I have lost a lot of Muscari (grape hyacinth). No idea why. This is the only patch left in the garden now. I will try to remember to plant more in the Autumn.

This is the last clump of crocus for another year. The bees were very busy making the most of the pollen-rich stamens before the petals curl up completely.

And now it’s time for my annual Hellebore fest. Just a couple of images this time. The reddish-burgundy varieties are looking exceptionally dramatic and bold this year. I couldn’t resist capturing them again.

From the bold and dynamic to the tiny and delicate, this little wood anemone appears in a crack on the stone steps leading up to the top garden every year. It blooms for a very few days and then disappears without trace.

More delicate petals, this time in the shadiest part of the garden, where the primroses grow. There are two new plants to add to the mix this year. This seems to be a good spot for the other primroses to multiply so hopefully the new plants will thrive in the same way.

The pink “candy-floss” rhododendron is just going over now and beginning to lose petals, but it has put on a good show this year and has had no frost to nip the blossoms.

My final image this week is set against a glorious blue-sky canvas from last week. The bell-shaped flowers of the Pieris are a sight to behold on a clear and sunny day as they sway gently in the breeze.

In a few days it will be Easter, so I am back in the kitchen again for my next post. Until then, enjoy the spring flowers and sunshine (if you have it), and see you again soon. Take care and best wishes ūüôā

Spring is in the air

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Early spring sunshine. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Hello again. What a difference a couple of weeks has made to the weather here in central Scotland. February started off with snow and ice, and more followed. The temperatures plummeted. But as the month drew to a close, the skies cleared, the sun came out and at last the spring flowers have started to bloom.

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Icy windows in early February. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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Mid February snowfall. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

This past week, the air temperature has increased by several degrees and there have been several “blue-sky” days. Great news for the spring flowers, the warmth and sunshine has brought a few into flower at long last. Looking back over past Februarys, I think the cold spell this year has put the garden back at least a couple of weeks. The snowdrops and Hellebores in particular seem late to open up this year.

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Scottish snowdrops. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
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The first of the Hellebores. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

In the sunshine, the crocuses are opening up and attracting bees which is good to see, and in the shady borders, there are primroses, one of my favourite spring flowers.

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Yellow crocus and primroses. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The pink Rhododendron is gradually opening up. I love the colour of this variety, the blooms look like tufts of candyfloss.

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Pink Rhododendron. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I was given 3 Hyacinth bulbs by a gardener friends for Christmas and as I type this post, I can smell their perfume wafting around the house. They are are tallest, most flowery Hyacinths I have ever seen, and the colours in the petals ranges from deep, vibrant blue, through to lilac with hints of pink. The perfume is intensely spicy and fragrant.

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Delft blue Hyacinths. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

To round off my post this week, another indoor image I captured at the weekend when the sun was shining into the conservatory. The rays hit one of my hanging crystals just at the right point and cast a rainbow on the wall. A very cheery sight.

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Spring sunshine rainbow. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Until next time, I hope you are able to get outdoors and enjoy some spring sunshine and the very special flowers around at this time of year. Take care and keep safe ūüôā

Winter whites

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Snow-covered apple tree. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Greetings from snowy Scotland. I hope you are keeping well and warm. The weather hasn’t changed since my last post. Snow has been lying on the ground for a while and there have been intermittent snowy showers almost every day. Fortunately it’s not lying very deep and right now it is raining.

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Winter 2021, snowy garden. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The garden is quiet at this time of year and having a bit of a rest, but I have found a few signs of life. I’ve been taking photos for the past couple of weeks but nothing has really changed. I was hoping that the snowdrops would have opened out by now but the petals are still clamped closed.

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Snowdrops still in bud. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Usually the Cotoneaster hedge at the front of the house is untouched by the birds. It’s bright orange-red berries offer some colour when there is nothing much else around. This year the hedge has been stripped by pigeons. I did find a smaller plant that still has its berries. Perhaps it is too awkward for the birds to get to.

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Two Cotoneasters. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Just round the corner from the now barren hedge is the white Hydrangea bush that flowered so abundantly last summer and autumn. I always leave the faded blooms on the plant until the weather warms up. This is believed to help preserve the new leaf buds. The dried blooms have caught a light dusting of snow which makes them look quite pretty.

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Snow-covered faded Hydrangea blooms. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

The Hellebores seem to be taking forever to show this year. I can see the flower buds forming at the bases of the plants but only one plant has produced stems so far. It’s been in bud for a couple of weeks now. I think it’s only going to be tempted into bloom if the weather warms up by several degrees ūüôā

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My first Hellebore of 2021. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Just a brief post from me this week. I’m heading into the kitchen again at the weekend, so there will be a recipe post from me next time. Until then, stay well and have a good few days.

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

 

Hogmanay in the garden

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Welcoming in 2019. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

A very happy new year to you all. I wish you good health and every success in the year ahead. I hope that you have had a good Christmas holiday, and now we wait to see what 2019 brings to us all.

My Christmas holiday has been very peaceful and relaxed. The weather has been mild considering the time of year and has given me the opportunity to get out in the garden and tackle a few jobs like pruning the old apple tree.

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Recently pruned gnarly old apple tree. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The holidays started on a very chilly note with a heavy frost on Christmas Eve which made everything look very festive and sparkly in the sunshine and crisp, fresh air. Frosted_Hydrangea_lawn_paths_and_greenhouse_glass

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Frosty garden on Christmas Eve. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Out in the garden today, things were looking a little different from a week ago. No frost, just mild, breezy air and patches of blue in a heavily clouded sky. 2018 has certainly given us some unusual weather and I think this is having an impact on the garden now. Several plants are much more advanced than usual: the snowdrops are almost out in flower; the buds on the early spring flowering rhododendron are breaking open, and one Hellebore is already in full bloom. The usual oddities are around too: a solitary stalk of fresh flowers on a very sad-looking, bedraggled lavender bush, and a few new red-fringed orange carnation buds are about to open for a second flowering. Snowdrops_in_bud_and_a_white_hellebore_in_bloom

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Hogmanay flowers. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

I’ll sign off this post with an image of some “lucky” white winter-flowering¬†heather to bring us all good fortune over the next 12 months ūüôā

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Hogmanay white heather. Image: 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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First of February in the garden

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Blue sky day. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It’s been a lovely start to the new month today. Very clear and crisp. After taking the image above¬†this morning, after a full day of sunshine, by the time I got round to typing up my post, most of¬†the snow had melted away.

There has been¬†quite a lot of snow fall in January,¬†and it’s been quite cold too.¬†No sooner¬†had the temperature risen again and things were beginning to feel¬†a bit more¬†spring-like, then down came another pouring of the white stuff yesterday.

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Last day of January snowfall. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The new season’s growth seems a little slower in¬†showing this year. Most of the bulbs I have planted around the garden are only ¬†just beginning to poke through the soil, but the ones below,¬†in an old wheelbarrow, are much more advanced. When I’m gardening I often accidentally dig up bulbs. I usually put them back in the same place, but last year I cleared an area which had become too densely populated, and¬†ended up with¬†loads to replant. The wheelbarrow and an old barrel seemed like suitable new homes. Hopefully I will end up with a colourful display from both in a few weeks time.

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My barrow of bulbs. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Looking back at my garden in February last year, I had a few snowdrops out in full bloom by this time. At the moment, the petals are firmly closed, but with a couple more days of sunshine, they should open up. In other more sheltered spots around the garden, the snowdrops still have quite a way to go before they flower.

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First of February snowdrops. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Another precious flower in the garden at this time of year is the winter-blooming white heather. It certainly looks very healthy. Believed to bring good luck, white heather brings the feeling of life and vibrancy to the garden long before the other colours of spring appear.

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Lucky white winter heather. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Another plant that is also looking very floral just now is a new Helleborus Orientalis¬†I planted last year. It’s very pink and very pretty. The more established¬†Hellebores in the garden¬†are only in leaf with no sign of flower stems, so I guess that this one must be an early variety. It does look a wee bit lonely in the border, with just the one flower open, but there are lots of buds, so¬†they may well¬†be flowering¬†when the¬†others¬†decide to make a show. See you next time ūüôā

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Early Hellebore. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

 

My hellebore heaven

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Helleborus. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

The weather has been kind these past few days and the spring flowers are really coming on. I spent a couple of hours in the garden yesterday afternoon and was delighted to see that all 4 varieties of hellebore are now in full bloom. Hidden away in different parts of the garden, they don’t stand out from a distance, but when you get up close, they are magnificent and unlike anything else in the garden at this time of year.

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Dark purple-red bloom. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I don’t know the names of any of the hellebore in the garden, but I do know that the plants are hardy, evergreen and deciduous, and they bring dramatic colour and structure to the borders in early spring, just when I’m wondering whether there will ever be life in the garden again. The large blooms last around 4 to 6 weeks and then they will fade gracefully into the foliage, leaving the glossy, bold leaves behind for another year.

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Light purple with a ruffled centre. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Helleborus grow well in the shade or partial shade, and they like moist soil; they are a perfect plant for the Scottish climate. All mine are growing beside walls or fences. New plants take a couple of years to get established, and once they are embedded, they don’t like being moved, although you can divide clumps in the autumn.

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A white variety with a hint of green. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Best of all, Helleborus are a low maintenance plant. Once they have flowered, just remove any fading foliage; give the plants a mulch, and allow them to hunker down for another year.

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A group of white, burgundy-speckled, Helleborus. Image: Kathryn Hawkins