Marvellous March

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Under a blue sky, snowdrops in full bloom. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It’s been a wonderfully bright start to the new month. Blue sky, a light breeze, and warm(ish) sunshine. It is chilly in the shade, with frosts overnight, but the spirits are lifting as the flowers are blooming. In the garden, snowdrops are the main stars of the show and small clumps are in flower all over the place.

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Snowdrops growing under the beech hedge. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

There are also little pockets of sunshine yellow, here and there, as the Tête á Tête Narcissus have burst into flower these past few days. These are a favourite of mine, with their sweet, spicy perfume as well as their bright, almost glowing, petals.

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Miniature Narcissus. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It’s only occurred to me this year, how much of the heather in the garden flowers at this time of the year. In Scotland, heather is something I associate with as a mid to late Summer flowering plant, when it grows over the hills as far as the eye can see. I have planted lots of heather varieties in the garden over the years, and mostly by good fortune, there are plants flowering in all seasons. This pure white one overhangs the driveway.

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March flowering white heather. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

A couple of the early flowering rhododendrons are just about fully in flower. At this time of the year, they are vulnerable to frosts, but, so far (with fingers crossed), they have been unaffected. Both shrubs have been in the garden for many years, and are well established; they pretty much look after themselves.

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Early flowering rhododendrons. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

In a few shady spots in the garden, where the sun doesn’t reach, the hellebores are opening out. Probably one of the most challenging flowers to photograph owing to their drooping heads, this white one with dark red spots is one that grows more erect. It is the first one to bloom fully; the darker varieties are not quite open yet, but will feature in next month’s post.

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White Hellebore. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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Hellebore: close up and personal. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

To close my post this month, the most pleasing sight in the garden yesterday was this little fellow, standing alone, just a few centimetres tall. In a couple of weeks, the bare garden soil and gravel paths will be over-run with Chionodoxa and Scilla; there will be speckles of bright blue everywhere. These tiny, wee plants herald the start of the new season in my garden, and are a delight to behold.

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The first Chionodoxa. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

February in a Scottish garden

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Frosty mornings. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Frost and fog have been the order of the day since my last out-of-doors post. Without doubt, February is my worst month of the year. To me, it’s neither one season nor the other, and I am longing for Spring. Many plants that seemed so advanced back in December, have slowed down recently, and my hopes for an early end to Winter have been thwarted.

On a positive note, the afternoons are getting noticeably  lighter as the days begin to draw out, and, the snowdrops are beginning to bloom at last. I hadn’t given much thought to this well-known, delicate little flower until I moved to Scotland. Snowdrops grow every where in the countryside around me: from the sides of the roads to carpets in the forests, and in the most modest of gardens to the landscaped grounds of castles and palaces, they certainly feel at home here. I have small clumps growing in different areas all over the garden; none have been planted, they come back naturally year after year.

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Early February snowdrops. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

Other bulbs are greening up, and most shrubs are in tight bud; I am hoping they will open up in the next two to three weeks. I have are a few heathers in bloom here and there, adding splashes of pink amongst the green shoots.

The weather has just turned milder these past couple of days, which means (fingers crossed) that the garden will spring into action once more. Until next month………..

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February pink heathers and rhododendron buds. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

October flowerings

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October foliage and flowers. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

It has been a mild and reasonably bright few weeks since my last garden posting. I am pleasantly surprised that so much is still in bloom in the garden. In fact, there are very few signs of Autumn here at all, and the garden hasn’t changed that dramatically from last month, the colours are just a little faded and more muted. The large trees are barely turning, so I had to look to smaller bushes and shrubs for some typical October colour. The blueberry bushes have finished fruiting now and are the only real hint of the season, having turned from bright green to deep red-orange colour.

More Autumn crocus have found their way to the surface this week, and make a pretty splash of colour on the increasingly barren soil as the other foliage dies back.

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Autumn flowering crocus. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

It was also good to see that we still have plenty of bees around the garden. Yesterday, they were buzzing round the Hebe and dahlias as I took my photos, still busy gathering pollen from the flowers and shrubs.

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Hebe bee-bee. Image: Kathryn Hawkins
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White petal dahlia with busy bee, and Burgundy pom-pom dahlia. Images:Kathryn Hawkins

Usually at this time of year, there is only one splash of colour in one a particular flowerbed in the back garden; it prompts me to think every year that I must plant a companion ready for next Autumn (and of course, I never do). Sedum “Autumn Joy” is very reliable, multi-headed with tiny pink flowerets and succulent bright green leaves, I think it must be very happy having its moment of glory every year, when it stands out alone amongst its fading neighbours, so who am I to spoil its fun?

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Sedum “Autumn Joy”. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I will finish this post with an image of a flower I spotted in bud a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday, it was in full bloom. It is a well established shrub and should have flowered back in June, when it is normal to do so, but for some reason it has decided to break flower now. Fingers crossed we don’t get any frost………

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Rhododendron in bloom in October. Image: Kathryn Hawkins