Garden Views-03-March 2016

SDIM5859 (2)March 2016 began with a continuing weather theme that had ended late October’s sunny dry spell. Rain on most days. The first 9 days of March were cold, sometimes windy, sometimes frosty, but still with some form of precipitation every day.SDIM5852 (2)By the 9th, I had only seen a bumblebee in the garden once this year, very fleetingly on February 29th. This is unusual territory. Many of our spring bulb stalwarts – Iris reticulata, Crocus tommasinianus and Scilla mischtschenkoana have been disappointing – opening rarely in the case of the Crocus, and being ravaged by the constant wet, and huge numbers of still active slugs after the very mild winter (Iris and Scillas). SDIM5856 (2)Those that I have managed to hand pollinate on the very brief occasions when flowers have opened, have often been chomped by rodents soon afterwards…SDIM5822 (2)

But the new varieties from previous year’s hand pollination efforts, like the stunning rosy pink one below, encourages me to keep going with this seasonal task, in the absence of natural pollinators …SDIM5841 (2)SDIM5846 (2)There are always some counterbalances in a garden to the poor performers – the mistle thrushes have started their prominent vantage point musical performances from early February this year… S1040025 (3)

And the snowdrops and Cyclamen seem to cope better with these wet conditions, and still delight us under grey skies, and soggy ground…SDIM6046 (2)SDIM6116 (2) It also looks like the daffodils are emerging perhaps 2 to 3 weeks earlier than normal, and it will turn out to be a really good flowering year for them..SDIM5866 (2) Is this because of 2015’s cool damp summer? Or the excellent dry and sunny spring of 2015? Or the fact that all the garden was top dressed with seaweed extract to try to mitigate any trace mineral deficiencies in our wet climate?SDIM5833 (2) Or a combination of many such factors? Who knows, but it reinforces the delights of gardening – never knowing what to expect, and being relaxed enough to cope with whatever the weather Gods throw at us. SDIM5837 (2)And such a constantly wet theme means that the annual process of lifting, splitting and moving snowdrops has been much easier, without having to remember to water the recently moved bulbs – I still do this for a few days, immediately after moving, even in wet weather, since it does seem to aid recovery, and establishments in their new locations.SDIM5823 (2)

Late February and early March also saw some exciting new snowdrop additions, as my historic Welsh snowdrop hunt accelerated in earnest. Of necessity, this will be a long term project – we don’t have the resources or the time and weather opportunities to be ‘on the road’ for more than a day or so per week, of what can be a relatively short season. But already it’s been great fun, and some of the sights and stories associated with old snowdrop colonies have been fascinating…S1050030 (2)SDIM6016 (2) S1030008 (2)At last on March 10th, a sunny morning with little wind, which allowed the overwintered early species Bumblebee queens, and honeybee garden visitors, to fly…SDIM6120 (2)SDIM6033 (2)Then as a high pressure system built, over 2 weeks with no rain. Some blue skies, sunshine, and a few more sharp frosts …SDIM6193 (2) SDIM6243 (2)SDIM6267 (2)SDIM6176 (2)SDIM6257 (2) … more daffodils, more frosts …SDIM6159 (2)SDIM6163 (2)SDIM6178 (2)SDIM6042 (2)SDIM6173 (2)SDIM6131 (2)SDIM6205 (2)SDIM6098 (2)SDIM6008 (2)SDIM6094 (2)SDIM6012 (2)SDIM6078 (2)SDIM5997 (2)SDIM6196 (2)SDIM6148 (2) … and an then a real treat – an unexpected arrival, “Frostkist”, a pretty ewe lamb from our clearly not-so-barren ewe, “Bo”. The prominent red marking came from Doublet’s determination to reach some food in late December, rather than his clearly much earlier unobserved interest in Bo’s charms …  SDIM6187 (2)Temperatures stayed low, and in the last week of March heavy rain returned, but by the end of the month, a rainfall total of ‘just’ 123.6 mm, and the PV readings below were probably quite a bit better than an ‘average’ March.SDIM6278 (2)

Thanks for reading.