May it last !

Few places are as beautiful as England when the sun shines as it does this week – it’s that dazzling green. There are so many occasions of exaltation and gratitude that I feel dizzy.

Walking accross the field to go to town, yesterday, I thought I would love to have a blog section called : “Ce que j’ai vu de plus beau aujourd’hui” – “The most beautiful thing seen today”. How and what to choose ? In spite of the flowers, I think I would have to give the prize to that tender-green haze floating around the poplars’ crowns as they start to leaf out. It is so thin, almost intangible, barely perceptible against the bright blue sky, and yet, the sign of an unstoppable force.

All is not perfect, even in my protected little corner of the world. I found the baby blackbird on my lawn. It was laying there, uneaten, its eyes open. I suspect the magpie, as the neighbours’ cat is a lazy, floppy thing only apt to soil the flower beds. Since then, I haven’t seen Mrs Black go back to her nest to feed any other chick… She is still going about in the garden, though, and Mr Black has reappeared. They may be moving from the ivy into the firethorn, which undoutedly provides better protection, but competition is fierce, if the sparrows’ indignant cries are to be believed. However, Mr or Mrs Little Red is still living in the pouch nest offered by Grandma, and I keep my fingers crossed for baby robins !

I have been spending whole days in the garden, planting out Orleya grandiflora seedlings which were trying to root through the capillary mat, sowing white cosmos (my favourite flower of all) and Californian poppies, mulching with horse manure (before the poppy seeds were thrown in, but after the cosmos had been sown – I know I am stupid, but hey, they are tough). I have also dug up a fuchsia and moved it under the boxwood (yes, the poor plant I tried to niwaki-prune last autumn). I expect the displaced fuchsia will be sulking forever. My unsuspecting walk in town ended up with a few additions to the plantations : Astilbe Vision in Pink, another bleeding heart (“les boutons, on dirait des poires avec des têtes de nounours”, dixit my son), a yellow lupin and, more importantly, a dark blue delphinium. Honestly, how was I to know it was market day, and there would be a wonderful stall of cheap yet healthy plants ? By the way, butterflies are about !

And today, and it sums it all up : I hanged the laundry to dry outside. Tada !

A few pictures :

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From the Norway maple (érable plane) at my son’s school.

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Claire’s cherry tree. Claire died aged 19 many years ago. People used to hang shiny ribbons from the memorial tree’s branches, but don’t seem to do it anymore.

Now, in my garden :

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With dew, this time, Aldor ! 🙂

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My beloved Hepatica transsylvanica.

 

Under the snake’s head lilies’ skirts.

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Primula Belarina Pink Ice, ready for a wedding !

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Brunnera macrophylla Jack Frost, the plant I wouldn’t be without. The picture doesn’t do justice to its amazing blue.

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Jewel ! Centaurea montana Purple Heart.

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Cornus praying.

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Acer palmatum Osakazuki leafing out. It looks like it is taking its elegant rose gloves off, doesn’t it ?

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Acer palmatum Katsura means business this year (was put in the ground last autumn) and is already out. My son likes to shake its little hands (yes, we are odd).

That’s it for today ! Enjoy the sun while it lasts !

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Bugs and buds

Well, it’s raining today down here, but that won’t dampen my mood. After all, things are moving fast in the garden !

I – Bugs

Last week, we were delighted to find a new resident in our garden, a little but fierce crab spider stationed on one daffodil.

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I am told they can change colour and are common in Southern England, but it’s the first time I see one ! They are beautiful and I love how they command respect in spite of their small size. It’s the way they hold their legs, as if they were ready to spring on you at first sign, and their translucent greenish white body.

By now, the daff has wilted and its resident moved away, but other less welcomed guests have arrived – the horrid aphids (yuck !). I had read that they can spread something called Black Death on hellebores, so as soon as I saw black spots on the leaves, I started spraying insecticide. I know. It is stupid, firstly because the black spots are most probably the fungal disease, secondly because you can’t really control aphids, thirdly because it’s nasty. Anyway. Made me feel better, which I suspect is often the real reason for spraying nasty products on plants (placebo etc). Tending to the garden is obviously a way of tending to oneself, at least for some people…

Other victims (I hope) of intempestive spraying were some lily beetles. I found them active on the lilies, logically, but also on fritillaries. Do NOT touch my fritillaries !

I have found a number of fat caterpillars / grubs of some sort. I have tried to use the Internet to identify them, but I would need a lot more knowledge and experience to achieve that. I have left most of them in peace.

II – Buds

It’s only April, but I bump on lots of tiny flower buds everywhere ! The newly purchased foxglove is preparing one,

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so are the Astilbe,

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the chives,

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the poor Spiraea which is still trying to regain its fullness after a tidy-up pruning session,

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the Alpine Dianthus,

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one of the Delphiniums,

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and Kezia’s mini rose !

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Of course, the alliums are fattening their buds (except the Schubertii, no sign of flower yet, though I am really looking forward to seeing them, they look amazing on other people’s pictures). I already posted a picture of my unique (alas) paeony bud (the other plant hasn’t produced any, but then, it was buried under the cosmos forest last summer… Can’t win every time…).

Apart from buds, I also have some flowers, amongst which I can show :

– Ajuga reptans

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– Lewisia Cotyledon Sunset (the flowers are remarquably bigger than last year, I suppose it shows a good “establishment”)

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– Tulips Flaming Parrots (sorry, beaten by the rain)

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– Last year’s Angelique tulips

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– Brunnera Jack Frost still going strong, which you have already seen not long ago.

– Hepatica transsylanica Blue Jewel

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– The Wisteria !

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III – Grub

These are for me this year, do you hear me Blackbirdie ?

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IV – Miscellaneous

Big disappointment with the Eryngium Blue Star and Eryngium Zabelii Donard which I purchased as bare root things last autumn : no sign of them, neither above nor under the ground. I was counting on them for the design of my sunny patch, boohoohoo. Anyway, I used the space to sow Cosmos Gazebo white (again, but they are my favourite flowers), and Sweet Sultan. And it didn’t stop me from ordering some plants from the same company again (J. Parker’s) as they are cheap, but if this order isn’t more successful, I’ll give up on them. I have recently discovered a lot of bad reviews about that company, but I find it a bit too easy to complain for anything on the web, and one doesn’t always get a balanced picture.

I am waiting for another order from Plantify which should have arrived two days ago. The plants I have received from them so far (all potted, no bare roots) have been excellent. I hope these (a pulsatilla, two pulmonarias, Euphorbia myrsinites and some lupins) will be as good. Will post pictures when there is something to photograph.

Finally, I have found some lovely Alpines for a few quids in Wilkinsons :
– Anthemis White carpet
– Leontopodium alpinum (Edelweiss)
– Silene uniflora Druett’s variegated
– Primula vialii
– Santolina chamaecyparissus (Cotton lavender)
– Leucanthemum African eye

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Love them ! They remind me of the gorgeous wild flowers we saw last summer in the Alps.

How I love little surprises ! These little chaps weren’t supposed to be here as I tried to get rid of them last autumn :

– Liatris Spicata :

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– a clandestine cosmos :

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And beautiful foliage :

– Hosta June :

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– Heuchera Beauty Colour :

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– Acer Shirawasanum Aureum last week and now :

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How did I live all these years without a garden ?