This Month May 2013 - Tuesday, 30 Apr 2013
What a difference a day or two makes, the garden has really woken up as have the wildlife, I have seen a few butterflies and bees though sadly due to chemical use in farms and gardens insect populations in Britain and globally, are being dangerously depleted.
We have been getting more Goldfinches on the feeders as well as Nuthatches, Green Finches and the numerous other birds. I heard a Curlew but it was just passing through as sadly modern farming methods are not conducive to their nesting requirements. I am pleased to see the swallows back and we have had Ducks and Geese on the lake. We often stop for a chat to the myriad Frogs and Toads and take great pleasure in watching the Newts. I was also delighted to see a young Grass Snake, they often lay eggs and hibernate in the compost heaps. Today we saw a Stoat just outside the front door.
Enough about the fauna, now to the flora which is blooming in abundance, most aromatically noticeable is Corylopsis spicata -Spike Winter Hazel, which exudes a strong aroma of lemon and always reminds me of the lemon sherbet boiled sweets in scent and looks.
We now realise just how many bulbs we planted in the autumn and many areas have patches of the lovely Erythronium revolutum Pagoda - Trout Lily, I have no idea where it got its common name, maybe I could look it up if I hade the energy to delve into our botanical library.
We recently made a great effort to support the Red Cross and small nurseries by attending a plant fair, the result being the next day was spent planting out mostly shade loving plants and some of which are delicate little darlings such as the dainty Anemonella and others are more obstreperous but equally beautiful. We are trying Paris thibetica which can take some time to establish but well worth the effort. Asarum caudatum, europeum and splendens are some of the ‘quirky’ type of plants which I have a penchant for. Maianthemum bifolium is a definite spreader and not for the small garden and Smyrnium perfoliatum which is a wild flower not unlike a yellow Euphorbia which should look good amongst the Bluebells in the lower dingle.
Plant of the Month: Epimedium - Barrenwort
There are about 40 species of Epimedium mainly from temperate Asia and some from the Mediterranean. They are excellent low growing, some may be up to about 18ins (45cm), perennials for shady areas but also can be planted in beds and rockeries. They have varying though still basically heart-shaped leaves and different shades of colour and markings. The delicate flowers are often spurred and almost spider-like in a range of colours, white, yellows, orange, reds and purple. They form a spreading mat with some spreading rather more quickly than others. The only attention they need is to cut back the old leaves in early spring to show off the new leaves and delicate spider-shaped flowers in many colours. In our woodland garden we now have quite an extensive collection. They are very frost hardy and will tolerate dry conditions, propagate by division or seed.
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