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 🙂

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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.

 

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