Nothing is so beautiful as spring – Gerard Manley Hopkins
Birds are singing. Landing on the fencepost they pause, check all is clear, dart to the feeder and back to the post in the blink of an eye. A robin, blue tits, chaffinches. Magpies launch themselves at the fat ball holder, blackbirds peck at fallen seeds. Two pigeons, one fat, one thin, drink from the pond.
Flowers are opening, welcoming the sun. Crocuses, hellebores, cowslip, primroses. The tulips are appearing, still wrapped up tightly.
Glossy green leaves of the Laurel gleam in the shining sunlight.
The first giant bumblebee of the year buzzes past my ear.
Frog spawn wobbles in the pond and we stop to watch two woodpeckers on our walk.
Spring is here. The seasons roll on.
Wishing you all good health and peace.
I am reading ‘The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland’ by Catherine M.Valentine
I am, I confess, a fair weather gardener. This does make me appreciate the good days even more though.
On wet, dreary, dare I say dreich, days I’m more inclined to be inside but there’s one thing I do know, learning about gardening will never end. There’s always something to discover. Each day is a new opportunity.
When I was a child I watched ‘Beechgrove Garden’ and ‘Gardeners’ World’. As the beauty of the flowers filled the screen their name was listed at the bottom. Not once but twice. The common and the Latin name. The presenters would effortlessly reel off these unusual names and I would listen, unaware that years later I would begin to attempt to learn them myself.
I have a Twitter account and have already stated my intention to learn some Latin names for plants. Apparently if you share an aim with someone it makes you more likely to achieve it. Here’s hoping.
Already I have been encouraged. Watching Monty Don on ‘Gardeners’ World’, he explained how the name for Sedum had been changed to Hylotelephium – this was one of the (as yet few) names I had already learned.
The days may be dark and cold outside but there’s always something to learn and this way I can combine my love of language and gardening. What a winter treat.
At the moment I am reading, ‘The Cabaret of Plants’ by Richard Mabey – slowly. I’m not very fast at reading non-fiction!
I haven’t been out in the garden much recently. Instead I’ve been doing lots of looking out of the window and thinking about garden jobs for the Spring.
Mostly I’ve been enjoying our houseplants as they bring us happiness with their beauty and health giving properties.
During the past year I made a resolution to learn the Latin names for plants in our garden. Well I’m hoping to keep that up and am extending it to some houseplants. This beautiful Peace Lily has the Latin name Spathiphyllum wallisii.
Like the Amaryllis flower pictured here, my New Year’s Resolutions are emerging slowly. I began with ‘I’d like to read more’ and now I’ve added ‘I’d like to write more’.
I know I am supposed to make ‘SMART’ targets so the next thing I need to do will be to break down these resolutions and put time scales etc next to them. That may come later, for now, I’m just going to pick up a book and enjoy reading.
Whatever and however you do your New Year’s Resolutions, I wish you well.
At the moment I am reading ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ by Bernardine Evaristo (with maybe one or two other books alongside!)
Yesterday I wrote this blog post and then thought, with so much going on in the UK at the moment my wee blog seems more insignificant than ever. Then I read the news on the BBC website this afternoon and saw this small item. ‘Cottingley Fairies Hoax Photo Sells for £1,000.’ Talk about coincidences. So, it may be a ramble and a potter along but here’s something different to read.
This year the holly tree in our garden has an abundance of berries. Does this mean it will be a hard winter ahead? Has Nature made her preparations to feed the birds? Blackbirds, blue tits and wrens among others are swooping into our garden and like them my mind flutters, darting here and there.
The Latin name for holly is Ilex aquifolium. I’ve been trying to learn the Latin names for some of the flowers and trees in our garden using this beautiful book.
This reminds me of a book I found in a second hand sale this year, ‘Airs and Graces’ by Erica James. In it she uses the poems of the flower fairies as epigraphs.
A distant memory from childhood finds me looking up the Cottingley Fairy photographs. Taken over a hundred years ago, some were recently put up for sale. Although the photos were fake, one of the girls always maintained the final one was genuine.
Who knows? In this time of dark winter days perhaps we need the magical and the fantasy world. It is a time for enjoying the music and dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Time to tuck up with a good book.
First though, I’m going to make sure our new pond isn’t frozen so the birds can have a bath and refill the bird feeders. Just in case there aren’t enough berries.
The other morning a lovely friend asked if I had written a blog post recently, in case she’d missed it.
Well, I hadn’t. The question, and the discussion that followed, inspired me though. I did have something I wanted to say, to share.
I wrapped up warmly and watched a blackbird as he sat on a branch eating rowan berries. I listened to the cracking of ice on a puddle when I couldn’t resist stepping on it. Then I went home to switch the kettle on for a hot cup of tea.
Reflecting on this I realise all the senses are covered apart from smell. Well, I think it was too cold!
Still, I have actually baked our Christmas cake – super early this year for me – and the smell of it baking was a real treat. This preparation, the making of the cake, is filled with hope.
As was planting the Hyacinth bulbs at the weekend and even, for my first time ever, planting an Amaryllis bulb. Watching Carole Baxter in the Beechgrove garden has inspired me and I thought I’d give it a go. Watch this space!
So a simple question about this blog has made me reflect on so many things, made me be grateful for friendships and realise how much hope there is at this time of year.
I never think of myself as a non-fiction reader and yet here I am, having recently finished reading Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ and one of my favourite summer reads this year was ‘Robbing The Bees’ by Holley Bishop. It’s a mixture of fact and fiction (faction, narrative non-fiction?) published in 2005 and hugely enjoyable.
The thing is though, it only heightened my wish to have bee hives. I’m like a child who wants a pet and is not thinking at all about the practicalities.
One of the things I love about going to farmshops and summer fairs is the chance to buy local honey and after reading Bishop’s book I’ve been left thinking that I should eat more honey, with all its health benefits. In fact I think I’m going to try to have a spoonful of honey every day. What a lovely thought!
I went away on holiday for two weeks. This must be every gardener’s dilemma, do I go on holiday just when the garden is looking good, when so much growth is happening, so many raspberries to pick, tomatoes to water? I’ve read as much as I can about looking after plants when I go away, I try my best then just have to hope.
Inevitably I return and spend happy moments with my head in the flowerbeds examining the growth and appreciating the lushness of Nature laid out before me. Yes, some fruit has gone over but there are ripe juicy raspberry bubbles left to pick and savour on my meanderings. There are potatoes to dig up, bursting up through the tongs of my fork from their hiding place in the dark, crumbling soil.
Not everything is rosy, my Kilmarnock willow looks distinctly sad, the wildflower patch didn’t take off as well as last year but I’m learning. It’s worth giving it a go, plant the seeds, they might grow.
Stunning cornflowers, starfaced borage, blousy lilies welcome me home and I have returned, inspired, fresh faced and with enthusiasm.
Cornflowers (grown from seed I collected last year- I’m so pleased about that!) and Borage.