or the crocus…
which can be positively gaudy.
I have planted the bulbs as near to the house as I can in any space I can find to cheer up the dull days.
But however bright they are, it is a bit beyond the flowers to lift up continuous days of dull, cloudy, rainy weather. But at last we have had a whole day of sunshine and the garden looks so different.
The level of the river at the bottom of the garden has dropped a little bit and the nearby fields no longer look like lakes. I’m not quite sure why, as the rain has been falling with boring regularity.
Another Ash tree has been felled to give more light to the vegetable garden. I can just imagine us having a scorching summer now and the garden turning into a dust bowl! The sunshine gave us incentive to plant a few early Almondine potatoes and some dwarf peas (Douce Provence) as the temperatures continue to be so mild.
The fallen tree gave me ready access to admire some beautiful lichen close up. I’d like to dedicate the next few photographs to the New Hampshire Gardener at New Hampshire Garden Solutions.
This I think is a lichen with purple apothecia.
This probably a foliose lichen (I go no further).
Lots of lichen and moss living happily together.
Very brown, jelly…stuff.
This is one I recognise as Tremella mesenterica from NH Gardening Solutions posts. However, I may be wrong as the branch did not look dead but perhaps it was not feeling well before we cut it down.
Back to the garden – my big plum tree is in full flower.
Beautiful as the blossom is, I am not happy to see it open so early.
When the sun is out the honey bees are there to collect the pollen but because of wind and frequent rain showers the bees are not as numerous as other years when the plum tree has flowered later. It was in flower a month later in 2012.
Some of the apricot blossom has already fallen, but will any fruit follow?
The garden has quite a few hellebores now. They all originated as seedlings from my sister’s garden.
As well as the dark ones I have this white one…
and this spotty pink one. I had lots of seedlings last year which I potted up and cared for in the summer and planted out in the autumn. I am hoping they will flower next year and I wonder what colours they will be.
I know who I have to thank for the high seedling rate of my hellebores. The bumble bees are occupied for quite a long time probing just inside the petals where I presume the nectar must accumulate. In the meantime the bumble bee is receiving a good dusting of pollen from the stamens. I haven’t seen any of the bumble bees gathering pollen yet so I presume the queens are not starting to nest yet.
This carpenter bee looks a bit on the small side. It has come out of hibernation early. Carpenter bees overwinter as adults to start up their life cycle at the beginning of summer. The middle of February is hardly the beginning of summer so perhaps they will go back into a torpid state like bumble bees do if the weather turns cold. This one did not seem as active as carpenters usually are in the spring and did not object to the hellebore being moved to take the photograph.
I inhaled the perfume from my skimmia for the first time in the sunshine and it brought back memories of the huge bushes in Seaton Park in Aberdeen. I brought this plant on from a cutting but perhaps because it was too much in the shade or too dry, it has taken about eight years to flower. If you fancy a perfumed skimmia, I would recommend that you buy a decent sized plant! The perfume is wonderful and I was wondering if it would attract anything apart from me.
I did not have to wait long. The flowerlets are barely open and the bumble bee is already forcing her way in.
The bee activity is stepping up in the garden and I have only identified ten different solitary bees that I have seen in my blog Bees in a French Garden. I have challenged myself to recognise twenty so I will have to spend more time in my photograph files.
But it is so difficult to stay concentrated when the sun is shining and there are bees in the garden.