February 2017 began under grey skies with a run of a few days of rain and strong winds, but mists and cloud effects had their moments as well.With a big push to record, photograph and label snowdrop cultivars in 2017, I notice that 157 different forms of snowdrop in the garden had “opened” their flowers by Imbolc, February 2nd, the Celtic date for the beginning of spring.
(Including G. “Imbolc” above).
The month continued without any sustained periods of dry sunny weather, and yet overall rainfall totals for most days of the month were modest, and we had only occasional dustings of snow or hail. It being February, when the sun shone, even for just an hour or two, the Crocus opened and the experience of just being in the garden was truly sublime, with the near constant perfume from many thickets of Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ filling the air, and serenading thrush, blackbirds and robins providing aural accompaniments.
This month was our busiest ever, for garden visitors with the National Garden Scheme, and it’s great that others have been able to share our experiences of what can be achieved on a Welsh hillside in February. And usually visitors share garden related stories with us too.
Using our trail camera to monitor just one section of our upper pond, which by chance was one of just two small sections of pond bank, chosen by frogs to spawn, showed just how tough an existence spawning frogs have. Buzzards, polecats, foxes, otters, herons and even tawny owls all try to tackle the frogs at the pond’s edge, or further in.
If you magnify the above picture you might be able to make out the blurry, and VERY bulging eyes, on a grey splodge to the right of the buzzard’s head, as a leaping frog just manages to escape its clutches.
Finally, as we feared, the impending move of a near neighbour who had a number of honeybee hives a mile away, has seen a complete absence of honey bees in the garden this spring. So as well as whipping out the camera in rare sunny moments, I’ve had to grab the pollinating brush for snowdrop and Crocus pollination. An hour or two spent doing this, is really some of the most productive time in the garden, to ensure good seed set, though it may take years to see the fruits of one’s bent over labour. There just aren’t enough early bumblebees out and about to do the work successfully in such narrow time windows of opportunity. The first bumblebee this year, was spotted on February 18th, above.By the end of the month, the rainfall total of 149.9 mm and light levels as shown by the PV inverter record, below, 111 KWH, probably fell within the “average” rankings for this month.