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Caught in a flurry, Magnolia stellata, Tostat, March 2018

Strange how the cold breeze ruffled some of the new flowers on the Magnolia stellata, but not others- and with no windbreak either.  The weather is bouncing quixotically from 2C in the morning, to 21C, and then greying over in the afternoon with a cold wind- which accounts for the fact that most things are biding their time for more stable temperatures- but it is Skegness-bracing for us humans- and the ground is slowly regaining malleability as the torrential rain seems to have stopped.

Only small moments are happening in the garden- human activity is focusing on big-weed removal, like dandelions where I don’t want them- they can help themselves to the ‘lawn’ in my view.  Personally, I wouldn’t grace our mossy and dry, how can it be both?, grass with the term ‘lawn’.  But then again, I’m not that bothered about lawn-stuff.  My eyes glaze over when Monty Don starts on about lawns and grass.

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Tulipa clusiana ‘Lady Jane’, Tostat, March 2018

I rather like the delicacy of this little tulip.  I have a feeling that I should have planted them deeper, I will try and remedy that for next year.  I bought a handful of Tulipa clusiana ‘Lady Jane’ in the autumn, as an experiment.  Of course, I had forgotten where I had planted them, and then I had also done a massive clearout of the vicinity, which may have disturbed them a bit.  So they are a bit on the wobbly side.  I had a go at tucking them up a bit more with some pale gravel, which does set them off quite well but may not really help anything.  Let’s hope that they are tougher than they look.

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Tulipa clusiana ‘Lady Jane’, Tostat, March 2018

If there is enough sunshine, the flowers open wide to show thick chocolate stamens and a splash of liquid gold at the centre.  I think, though, that I like the half-open position, so that the soft pink contrasts with the white of the flower.

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Narcissus Finland, I think, Tostat, March 2018

Continuing with the pale and delicate theme, these daffodils have graced me with a return this year.  I think I have to review my bulb purchasing.  The last couple of years, tulip and narcissus bulbs have done very poorly for me, despite growing them in pots with sharp sand to help with drainage.  So, last autumn, I just threw some old bulbs into the ground, thinking, ‘Fat chance’.  But, there they are.  Looking back, I think I have named this variety properly, but carelessness abounds.

By contrast, these daffs, from a purchase last autumn, have positively shocked me with their Disneyland colouring.  I am sure that these were meant to be cream with an orange trumpet, a sort of extra-frilly one, but you need your sunglasses on for these.

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Narcissus ‘Chantilly’, Tostat, March 2018

With a name like ‘Chantilly’, you would expect cream, wouldn’t you?!

The white Japanese quince, Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Nivalis’, was pretty nipped by the frost the other week, but bolstered by a background show from the Magnolia stellata, was giving a final show.  I rather liked the impressionistic feel of the breeze through the blossom.

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Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Nivalis’, last flurry, Tostat, March 2018

But for more to happen, we must wait more.  A beautiful installation at the Garden Musuem, London last month took my fancy on a wintry day.  Called ‘The Vitrine’ and made by Rebecca Louise Law, it is a simply gorgeous copper wire suspension and arrangement of flowers.  Here is the view from one side, and, with reflections, from the other side.  Magical.

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The Vitrine, by Rebecca Louise Law, 2017, Garden Musuem, London
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The Vitrine, from the other side with reflections, Garden Museum, London

 

Can’t hold back, Alys

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The first, slightly frost bitten blooms on Chaenomeles speciosa Nivalis, Tostat, February 2018

Alys Fowler, a gardening writer who I always enjoy reading, urges restraint in this morning’s Guardian.  She is, of course, quite right, especially if you have heavy soil, but with my stony (mostly) stuff, I have started tidying up a bit, doing the annual cull on bramble, the dreaded honeysuckle, giant dandelions- that kind of thing. But I am only talking about going into the soil about half a fork’s depth to remove the bad boys- which I kind of need to do, because the daffodils are half way out the of the ground.  And, although this may be wishful thinking, a few warm days would bring them out good and proper.  It’s a hard life being a bulb in my garden.  When they are obviously up, even I manage not to dig them up by mistake, but they have a dangerous life if I can’t see them.  I am, however, very good at replanting them straight away, although there are always one or two that get split.

The white Japanese quince, Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Nivalis’, is one of those plants I look forward to seeing at this time of the year.  There is a good article by James Wong on Japanese quince, though I always find him just a bit too boy-scout happy- possibly an age thing.  Back to the quince, it never fruits for us, or it may be that it has very tiny fruits that get lost in the undergrowth at the back of the border.  I inherited it in the garden when we arrived, and although it can suffer sapling invaders being so near to the ruisseau, it really draws the eye especially when everything else is brown and sodden.  The rain has been biblical so far this year.

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Moss on our stone walls, Tostat, February 2018

The sights in the garden are on the miniature side right now.  Bucketing rain, and only the odd sunny day, has fed the moss on the stone walls.  It is so green it is almost golden, and looks like the most expensive velvet fairy coat from children’s tales.  Some nice freckling has popped up on a couple of the hellebores, very dark prominent freckles and also freckles of the finest dust.  I love the surprises that you get when they mix themselves up.

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Deeply freckled Hellebore, Tostat, February 2018
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Faintly freckled Hellebore, Tostat, Fabruary 2018

And the same conditions that feed the moss, also encourages the very tiny maidenhair ferns, Adiantum raddianum I think, to have a go at establishing themselves in the nooks and crannies of the stone walls.

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Adiantum raddianum, Tostat, February 2018

Tomorrow it is promised that the rain will stop and sun will come out.