Gardening in spring

Has Spring arrived yet?

spring garden

Do you think that Spring has arrived yet? It’s a question that is constantly banded about at this time of year along with arguments of a late Spring or an early one and discussions on how one can identify if spring has sprung or not. It’s a bit like our constant preoccupation with the weather, in the respect that it never seems to go away. The type of discussion that seems to become ever more prevalent as you get older, as though some kind of vicarious learning experience is taking place or a natural instinct to air our feelings about muggy days or impending rains kicks in a few years post puberty. Quite frankly I’m bored of it now.

A widely recognised harbinger of Spring put pay to this lingering debate when out on a walk today. The beautiful Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io) was spotted enjoying the sunshine in nearby woodland, signalling that Spring is definitely here and that we should now concentrate our discussions on something a little bit more constructive or failing that we could just look for signs of April Showers, the Easter bunny or the hottest day of the year? Peacocks are one of our longest living butterfly species and have fared pretty well over the past couple of decades as a result of climate change. These striking creatures hibernate over Winter and then emerge from late March onwards. This peacock was right on cue and it’s likely that it emerged sometime over the past couple of days if not today. It was a very welcome site indeed, quite similar to my discovery of Vanessa atlanta late last year.

I’ve managed to spend a bit of time in the garden this weekend too, which has been quite productive and came as a welcome relief. A general tidy up of the garden has added plenty of plant material to the compost heap as has the addition of the only casualty of the Winter, a Wasingtonia filifera palm. If I’m completely honest it’s no great loss and the patch of earth it left behind was put to good use with the addition of a hazel obelisk on which I intend to grow peas and borlotti beans. The wait for my allotment plot is becoming a bit of a nightmare, although I’m reliably informed that I am number two on the list, so the garden is slowly evolving into a potager.

compost

My first batch of compost has been a great success and I spent quite a bit of yesterday morning applying it as sumptuous mulch to the top garden borders. It will help suppress weeds, insulate the soil and retain much needed moisture. Many of my plants are in a hurry to grow and are pushing up through the newly warmed soil, this mulch should aid them as the season progresses. Several Clematis race away and require a little string as forced support to help them on their ramble, on top of what’s in already planted, I have also added a Clematis tangutica. This plant was a gift, which has lived in a pot outside my front door for the last two years and was in need of a more permanent spot.

I just hope the impending cold weather and possible snow, forecast for this week, does not destroy the new growth. I guess old habits die hard?

Springtime with flowers, bees and hoverflies

The obligatory daffodil post with added hoverfly stalking. Spring was heralded with the sounding of trumpets and a most wonderous fanfare could be heard throughout the land. Of course I’m referring to the mighty Daffodil and in this case my Narcissus pseudonarcissus. Saturday brought the vernal equinox, the point where days become equal as hours of light and dark balance out and this is when Spring is said to begin. At least that’s the theory anyway. Along with us reaching this annual milestone four daffodils opened and their timing could not have been better. Okay, they’re a little late but as we are all aware the propensity for daffodils to bloom has been somewhat lackadaisical.

colourful meadow

Given the winter conditions we’ve just come through you can’t blame them for that really. It was a very welcome sight indeed but it appears that one of the blooms had opened and gone unnoticed, hidden behind a box ball probably a few days earlier as when I discovered it’s petals had already faded.

In the garden my snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) and witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’) have given way to the daffodils, anemones (Anemone blanda), various hellebores (Helleborus foetidus, H. x hybridus, H. niger) and lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis), much to the relief of the insects that call my garden home. Many bees and hoverflies could be seen buzzing about and one ever-clumsy shield bug was seen sunning itself on the leaf of foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) prior to probably flying in to windows, walls and unsuspecting people. I managed to get a couple of shots of the hoverfly enjoying the nectar of garden favourite of mine, Helleborus foetidus, and an Anemone blanda flower.