Wednesday 26 April 2017

April Flowers

Typical April weather - starting the month with glorious sunshine, we thought summer was here, and ending with cold north winds, and yesterday a mild frost and snowy hail showers during the day.

It's been a glorious month for blossoms, though, starting with the tail end of snowdrops and daffodils and now the lilacs are starting to show. The apples and cherry trees are still in blossom with the pears, damsons and plums having gone over.

Here are pictures of some of the flowers in our garden during the month:

At the start of April - daffodils in the lawn among the leaves of spent snowdrops.

Snakeshead fritillaries
Snakes-head fritillaries

Grape hyacinths
Bright blue grape hyacinths (muscari)

Variety of spring bulbs
A mixture of bulbs among the herbaceous plants waiting their turn:
tulips, narcissus, hyacinth, leucojums (summer snowdrops)
Magnolia flowers
Magnolia blossoms were magnificent this year, mainly due to no frost when the buds were forming.
Often the frost damages the delicate flowers just when they are ready to open.

Magnolia stellata
Magnolia stellata - small delicate magnolia cousin.
Damson tree in blossom
Damson tree in bloom
Red polyanthus
Bright polyanthus. We also have groups of pale yellow "wild" primsroses all around under the trees.

Sunday 16 April 2017

First swallows!

Yesterday we were entertained by a small flock of swallows swooping around in the warm sunshine. No sign this morning - but the temperature has dropped significantly with a north wind and forecasts or rain. So maybe they're off a bit further south again!.

They are creatures of habit - a couple of years since we've been here I've logged the first swallows on 17th April.  But the parents fly back to Africa before the new babies - so it's a mystery how they manage it.

Saturday 15 April 2017

Hedge Fun

Our garden is surrounded on 3 sides by a big field (Billy's Field) used for grazing cattle during the summer.  There's a fairly unruly - but old - hedge all around. The hedge is mainly hawthorn with holly, elder, blackberries, a few raspberries, wild plums, a shrub with little mauve flowers, and various creepers. Billy cuts the field side once a year and we try to keep our side under control from time to time.

At the front, between the garage and store-room and the road, there is a row of conifers and in front of that another very old hedge. It's mainly hawthorn and blackberries. One end of this hedge has been getting rather thin - the hawthorn gradually dying leaving just brambles and some other scraggy climber. Over the years we've tried to patch up the gaps with more hawthorn seedlings (which sprout everywhere in our garden) but none have survived.

The problem is that the ground is really dry and fully of rubble, old bottles, bits of glass, cans, tiles.....We also found a cast-iron feeding trough, a length of metal hawser and a glass demi-john. So the poor hedge stood no chance. It was clearly a very old hedge, nicely layered a long time ago with trunks 10 ins and more across, but mostly so rotten I could pull great chunks off with my hands.

So this week we've been cutting back and digging up the old hedge ready to plant a brand new one.

Each autumn our local council (North West Leicestershire District Council) together with the National Forest offer free trees to residents and last year this included 30m of hedging - hawthorn, hazel and some rowan trees. So we took up this offer. Didn't manage to get them in last years so put them in pots to overwinter. We also have some holly saplings.

We'll get out all the old dead wood and dry soil and rubble and put in a great load from our compost heap. Hopefully the new hedgelings will take root and grow quickly, because at the moment the bare space looks hideous.

(We live in the National Forest.)