Tangled and wild in the garden……

broccoli flowers and poppies

While I’ ve not really been spending as much time as I’d like out in the garden, in part due to the rubbishy weather, I did manage to take some pictures of little spots where it’s all gone a bit wild…..

In our far end bed we’ve had sudden burst of poppies all sprouting up amongst the gone over broccoli….delicate scarlet petals which in certain light become as translucent as tissue paper..

wildflower gardening

They always remind me of a great aunt (the one I inherited “Dorothy” from)…her surname was Poppy and a lot of her friends used to call her that……I love how they look growing amongst the Phacelia, orangey reds all side by side with tufts of lavendery fronds.

comfry

It’s not just the Phacelia which is a lovely lavender hue, the comfrey that is growing all around the edge of our compost bin is the same soft shade….while not as large as the bells on a fox-glove, somehow the bees still seem to half squeeze themselves in there to gather up pollen, emerging all powdery.

flowering rocket

Elsewhere some forgotten about rocket has shot up and revealed a small posy of butter yellow blossoms….there isn’t a lot of smell to them (so they aren’t as whiffy as the broccoli flowers) but they look so pretty, especially when a butterfly or damson fly lands on one for a rest.

I like the shape of the stem, those almost spikey angled seed pods reminding me of embroidery stitches…..

oranged bottomed bee

The garden has once again been host to a variety of bees, they love the Phacelia and spend ages at each flower, tumbling and rolling around each bent and curled frond of tufty blossom…..these orange and gold bottomed ones are a bit smaller, but are so pretty…..seeing the combination here of colours that if you tried to imagine them together they just wouldn’t work……lavender, mauve, orange, gold and that bright salad leaf green, takes my breath away and has me itching to learn stranded knitting……

white bottomed buzzy bee

The white bottomed bees are the big boys, though unlike a lot of the birds, there’s no argy bargy shoving or squabbling…….sometimes there are two or three bees all on the same head….they’re so busy, non stop with their pollen gathering….yet the sound of their buzzing never fails to make me feel all drowsy and is the perfect backdrop to any lazy sit down or half nap out in the garden.

poppies

Those beautiful scarlet petals don’t last long, especially when it’s raining, the stems seem to curl and twist, forming wild patterns for knitting cables before coming to a fat full stop with those swollen seed heads.  I’m hoing to gather some this year to dry out to sprinkle on top of beetcake cake or a sharp and sticky lemon cake…..I love seeing those tiny black seeds scattered over white icing, and even though I don’t get to taste the finished results, I can still take pleasure in the baking.

purple and red in the garden

Every so often I find a poppy bud that’s just about to open…a bright red slit like a paper cut across that hairy green.

I love it when we leave wild patches in the garden, we’ve both felt rather under the weather this year and the weather itself  has been a bit hit and miss at weekends when we would normally be out there pottering……but the bees are benefitting, and every so often I see one of the robins or a blackbird poking about under the plants, looking for insects or grubbing about for worms……..

It’s not the fanciest garden and taken as a whole it probably does appear a bit of a muddle but it’s a space that never fails to soothe my spirits or inspire me with colour combnations or embroidery ideas…….

what time o'clock

I’ve been trying to keep the dandelions in the garden down a bit this Summer, last year we had a few too many, however this one got missed……those globes of white and thistledown are my favourites, downy soft and fluffy…..some years ago I was in a chant group and we headed out one late July/August evening to a Norfolk meadow…it was full of dandelion clocks, under the twilight moon they looked like a mass of stars, all fallen down from the heavens and illuminating the grass underfoot.

tarting in the garden

And here’s himself……generally I’m not in the garden long before my time out there is supervised….he’s got a few places dotted around the garden where he’ll happily snooze, even when it’s raining cats and dogs he’s more often to be found out there rather than on a comfy chair ….one favourite spot is under some clear plastic where we were trying to grow salad leaves but which he’s taken over as his space……he’s able to keep quite dry and even if I go out and get half soaked bringing him in, as soon as we’re indoors he’ll wriggle out of my arms and dart back out again………at the moment he’s coming in with a tummy covered in tiny green burrs from the cleevers, we used to call this goose grass but a Scottish friend calls it sticky willies…….he also brings in tiny slugs which stick to his fur and are the devil to remove…. one evening last week I found a teeny tiny snail stuck to his pantaloons, poor little thing was trying to wriggle free of the cat fluff, and I’m sure if it could have talked would have been ptutting and tutting, cough cough cough…..

He’s looking a bit rumpled in this picture, he’s just woken up from one of his many naps so wants some fussing…some under chin tickling and behind his ear scritching is called for before he saunteres off with that fat plume of a tail held up high.

grey skies and frothy blossoms

cherry blossom and grey skies

There’s been a such a change in the weather here, finally the cherry trees around here are in full blossom and looking so beautiful……most are in people’s gardens but there’s a handful that are growing in the green spaces that the village where I live is full of…tucked away from cars and traffic so it’s always nice to pick headgerow fruit and forage here without worrying about stepping off any sloping verge into the road.

Last week when I was walking back from the shops I kept wanting to look up, it was hard not to notice the huge grey clouds up in the sky, such a contrast to the soft white petals of the cherry blossom…..I wasn’t home long before the heaven’s opened and the rain/hail started……

a sky of blossom

I love seeing the glimpses of blue sky and billowy clouds up through the cherry branches and the froth of white petals.  I always think there’s something quite cheerleader like when the cherry trees are in full blossom, all pompoms and “Spring is here, Rah Rah Rah”…..

milky white blossoms

Up close the blossoms are so pretty, delicate milk white petals with golden yellow stamens and apple green centres….they must be full of pollen as the trees almost vibrate with the sound of bees gently buzzing from branch tip to branch tip.

And while I love each of the seasons in their own way, the cherry trees seem to be celebrating spring with an abundance of blossoms which fill the air with a sweet scent making a trip outside a treat for eyes and nose alike that…..

forget-me-nots

In our garden everything is waking up, our raised beds and path edges need some serious weeding but for now we’re happy to give over some garden to these pretty forget-me-nots…as the sunshine has been a bit slow arriving the tiny flowers are a much more intense blue than is usual.

The forget-me-nots were one of the first wild flowers I think I knew the name of, they’re very distinct looking and I think the name makes them easy to remember……because other insects like to visit them, along with the bees, then we often notice the birds having a poke about, investigating around the plants, finding food and tiny six legged snacks.

cowslip

Earlier in the year we moved a couple of our apple trees, they weren’t getting enough sun where they were and both now seem to be responding to the move very well….sprouting soft pink buds and blossoms, and giving something for the blue tits to sit on while they queue to use the feeders (they seem to wait for the great tits but anything else that is at the feederes they just fly down and shove out of the way…even the robin which is normally a feisty little chap gets chirped at nd told to move on)…during the apple tree move the cowslips must have been disturbed as there’s been no sign of them this year, but then when I began lifting the leaves of the wild strawberries I found these ones…..and since I took this photo I’ve found another one so fingers crossed next year we’ll have our yellow carpet again……

The yellow is such a soft shade, brighter than a primrose and nowhere near as intense as gorse or broom…the yellow is quite similar in hue to powdery catkins….I’ve always liked the name of them.

jack in the hedge

Something that does grow most unwanted in the garden is this jack in the hedge…it’s super stinky like wild garlic, and you can eat the young leaves…but I don’t like garlic to eat or to smell so it’s not coming into our kitchen…..it’s quite an invasive plant and you need to pull it up as soon as you see it as if not it’ll take over the garden in no time at all…because it’s been so wet some of the garden has been a bit forgotten about so I’ve spent a couple of days going round whipping these out…they do lift out quite easily, but the air around where they’ve been growing is still pungent with garlic aromas for some time afterwards…..And while I’ll happily admit they do look pretty, and have inspired me with numerous little florl embroideries, those tiny white petals combined with the yellowish green un-opened buds are so dainty, they’re not something I let grow in the garden for long.

Being outside when it’s Spring time and sunny feels such a treat after too many wet and windy afternoons cooped up indoors, when front gardens and hedgerows both are bursting with daubs of colour, sitting on the back door step keeping quiet with a lap full of  knitting and a cup of tea, Bernard sprawled out alongside my feet, birds are busy everywhere, scurrying and skittering around under the shrubs, feeding youngesters or still nest building and pulling at the fleece I’ve put out for them….the sound of them all singing lifts my heart as well as any piece of music by Bach, even the magpies raspily squawking at each other in the huge Sycamore tree that overlooks part of our garden…it’s hard not to be out of doors for 5 minutes this time of year without wanting to smile.

Milky soft Blackthorn blossoms and crusty lichen roves….

blossom down the lane

I’m so muddle headed feeling at the moment, I hate having a cold, I never know whether I’m coming or going and constantly feel like I’m two days behind in my week….I’ve learnt the hard way that it’s no good me trying to get anything much of anything done and to just take time out, not to stress and to let things be…..it means “to do’s” falling behind and not gettting done but experience tells me this doesn’t mean the world ends….chores can wait and it’s far better to just rest…..also “Doctor” Bernard has been wedging himself half on my lap and half down the side of the sofa so it pretty much stops me from doing too much as I don’t like to disturb him when he’s so cosy…

We’ve had another couple of frosty mornings this past week but I’ve kept in-doors in the warm and have been well wrapped up with shawls and blankets…the weather seems as wobbly as my head as we’ve also had days where the late Winter sunshine has been really glorious….the other Sunday before we both took sickly we went for a stroll down the lane, not far, just a half hour walk, an hour tops, enough to shake out the cobwebs and return home all ruddy cheeked and noses pink.

mossy greens and milky white

There’s a long stretch of Blackthorn hedges and trees which are all in blossom, frothy and delicate, the most milky white, with yellow and gold whiskers inside already heavy with pollen….

It’s too early for bees to be buzzing around them, tumbling and rolling over the petals, but the hedgerows are home to a whole wealth of birds…mostly this part of the lane seems to be full of blue tits and great tits, whenever I try to capture them in a picture it ends up looking a right blurry old mess, so I’m content to just stand still and watch them….long tailed tits fly over from the the other side where the marshes have big colonies of them, quite often we’ll spy a hawthorn tree with anything from a dozen upwards of tiny fluffy white and grey, charcoal and rose tinted birds with those instantly recognizable tails…

spring is on its way

The hawthorn blossom isn’t heady like when we go and walk up in the woods to see the bluebells, where the scent makes me all sleepy, heavy and slow …..instead it fills the air with an uplifting  sweet and crisp freshness.  The combination of milky white blossom, crusty roves* of lichen and the mossy green smudges on the branches is one of my favourite, both blossoms and moss feel velvety but where one is smooth the other often allows your fingers to press deep and leave behind a faint imprint.

fragile and pale blossoms

It’s often hard to tell what something is in the hedgerow and a few weeks ago before the blossom was out it would have been near impossible, however Blackthorns are pretty much the first of the hedgerow trees to blossom (make a note if you see any because it’s from these trees which come October you’ll be able to gather sloes for gin and vodka)…..they won’t be hawthorns as even though it’s mild they’ll be another month at least…another way to tell the two apart is that Blackthorns blossom before their leaves appear, and hawthorns have their leaves first before they show any sign of blossoming….their leaves are also quite different in appearance but as they aren’t showing yet that doesn’t really help you identify them. (once they’re out, the Blackthorn leaf is almost oval,  pointy at each end, the hawthorn is much more like a tiny oak leaf, all meandering ins and outs in shape).  Hawthorns are edible too but they are better slowly cooked along with rosehips for syryps and citrusy tasting preserves.

 

*when we were small and fall over and get a cut, as it healed over we’d call what formed on top a “rove”…it’s a proper old Suffolk term and one I know not so many people seem to use, certainly not once you’re out of the Suffolk and Norfolk area as I alwasy have to explain what I mean to friends from out of this region.  “Rove” sounds much nicer to my ears than “scab” which always makes me think of old toad backs and unpleasant things, not that a rove is a particularly nice looking athing but just saying “scabby” makes me shudder.

Colour and first Spring blossoms in the garden….

Japonica

 

Yesterday it seemed like we had half a dozen tasters of English weather, overcast and cloudy skies, a light shower of rain, followed by wild winds and then a proper downpour…finally the sun came out and it was a perfect sun-shiney afternoon…..tiny, delicate blossoms opened out and I even saw a few fat bees bumbling and buzzing around….Although there isn’t much going on out in the garden (we’ve still to plant out vegetables and salad crops) there’s still a whole wealth of colourful treasures dotted around……

A couple of years ago we were given a little cutting of a Japonica from my boyfriend’s parents.  It didn’t blossom last year, but I think it’s now making up for it…it’s covered in tiny buds and the flowers are a beautiful deep coral with bright yellow centres.  This is one of my favourite colours and combined with the dark green leaf it’s a perfect mix.

 

Japonica blossoms and flowerng buds

 

Indoors I’ve got a small oil painting of a Japonica and hadn’t really made the connection between that painting and this little cutting…before I thought to take some pictures there were a couple of bees tumbling around the flowers, getting themselves all covered in dusty yellow pollen….sadly it doesn’t seem to have a scent though that may be because my nose is all blocked up and I can’t really smell anything.

 

wallflowers

 

The wallflowers near the apple trees are coming into bloom, deep, dark colours and thick velvety petals…actually even with a cold I can still smell them, their perfume is heady and spicy and bees and butterflies seem to love them.  Out the front the flowers are flecked more with yellow but these back garden ones are more crimson hued.  When I was little I never particularly thought much of them but as I get older they are one of my favourite flowers in our garden.

 

cowslips

 

Under our three little apple trees we planted some alpine and wild strawberries…they’ve spread out and now cover everything in sight, peeping up amongst the green of the strawberry leaves are some of the cowslips I grew a couple of years back…I love their soft petals and” lemon posset” coloured blooms…. these spring flowers have always been a particular favourite and are one of the first flowers I learnt the name of.

Sunday afternoons we used to go for a walk after we’d had our lunch….my dad used to point out flowers and help us learn their names….back then the banks of the lanes would in turn be filled with cowslips and primroses, pink campions, and ragged robin….old walls would be home to wisps of pale blue harebells……we also used to go for walks with my Primary school class.  A lovely old chap from the village would take us out and we’d be asked in turn to identify particular flowers and trees….we’d pick a few of the flowers we’d see and then go back to school, put them in water then draw and paint them.  I used to love doing this and it was probably the class I loved the most.

 

comfrey growing around the apple trees

 

 

 

We’ve also got clumps of comfrey growing up in clusters around the garden…this is by the apple trees but it’s also shot up around the compost bins and in one of the raised beds….even on still days when there is no breeze the plants will move and sway as fat bumble bees buzz in and out of the blossoms…….we regularly cut it back, chopping it up and making a stinky plant food or just putting it straight into the compost bins (it makes the peelings and cutting in there “compost” and break down quicker)

 

strawberryblossoms and a rogue raspberry plant

 

The blossoms of the strawberries are such an intense white, tiny and perfect little petals surround a yellow centre…..these particular plants are now a mix of alpine and wild strawberries, they’ve cross pollinated and slightly different varieties appear all around our garden, growing haphazardly as and where they set their runners….some berries are incredibly sweet others are a little sharper…none are ever very big maybe the size of a thumb nail, but the flavour and scent of each one is really intense.

 

dandelions growing on the side of the path

 

Along the path where I should have been weeding are growing some dandelions…when the leaves are small I’ll wash them and use them in a salad…I know you can batter and fry the flowers but I’m not sure what my boyfriend would say if I gave him some of those for his tea….I’m happy to let them grow as they are such a beautiful burst of bright yellow….when it’s overcast they pull in all tight but at the first sign of a little sunshine then they open up so wide and always gladden my heart.

 

yellow blossoms

 

Along the back of our garden is a fence where the shrubs grow…this bright yellow blossom is a real treat in the sunshine, when I go out and  fill the bird feeders, the birds all sit on it’s branches and patiently wait til their breakfast is set out for them…a few cheeky ones like the robins and blue tits sit in the branches of the cherry tree or on the washing line and will fly down to the feeders as soon as the lids are put back on….. in front of this shrub is a buddleja, it’s now been cut right back but in a month or so it’ll be growing like billy-oh and come Summer the air will be full of the scent from it’s deep purple blossoms……on days like this when it’s sunny and warm, then Summer feels like it’s just waiting round the corner.