This year with the mild winter I was supposed to be ahead with any preparation and quite prepared for spring. We forged ahead clearing a lot of trees and branches from the left side of the back garden to let in more light. But the weather continued mild and no cold snap arrived to halt the blossoming of the trees or limit the growth of the grass.
Arriving back from my trip to the UK I noticed the moles had invaded the front garden. We accept them in the back as inevitable but this was a first in the front.
This is not aesthetically pleasing but I find it works, if you can suffer looking at it yourself. The wind whistles through the empty plastic bottle which clatters and sends vibrations that hopefully irritate the moles enough to send them looking for quieter quarters. At least there have been no more lumps since I set it up.
In the back garden the Ash-Leaved Maple is flowering (at the left foreground). This is a rescue tree. We saved it from a friend’s small garden. She had brought it home from a plant exchange thinking it was a tree peony (?), when she discovered her mistake she convinced us to rehouse it.
The silky fronds of the male flowers blow in the wind in the spring and you cannot resist touching them as you pass.
The Amelanchier is having its moment of glory now but the flowers never attract much insect life.
The cherries and plum trees are nearly finished blooming.
The Mirabelle plum flower is as delicate as the little, sweet plums.
Spring is passing so quickly this year.
I saw my first worker bumblebee on the fourth of April, so somewhere a queen has got busy and produced her first batch of workers. The workers look so small after the big queens. Some bumbles just push there way inside the Wisteria flowers but others get impatient and pierce the end of the flowers to get at the nectar.
The holes that the bumblebees and Carpenters make are re-used by other bees and I have noticed more honey bees on the Wisteria lately, now that they can get easy access.
My overall plan for the garden is to strategically place plants and bushes that inhibit weed growth so that the maintenance is easier (I can dream :)). These are Hellebore seedlings I planted up early last summer and kept well-watered in pots over the summer and then planted them out in the autumn. They are in a rough part of the garden and look as if they will be up to the task.
Hellebores certainly like the garden and in only two years are starting to take over a patch in the front garden. I think perhaps you can have too much of a good thing and some will have to be moved from here.
The bees are not in agreement and I must admit that the Hellebores have an exceptionally long flowering period.
One of my excellent ideas that misfired this year was my use of the needles under the ex-pine tree for mulch. I have been very successful using wood chip mulch to reduce weeds in the borders. Under the pine tree was dark and years of seeds must have accumulated – unable to germinate in the dark. In fact it is a brilliant weed seed reserve, especially for Ash seeds, as pictured above. These really must be removed as soon as possible because they will pop out at this stage but develop into tree sapling in next to no time.
Looking on the positive side, the cherry tree we so roughly moved (How not to plant a cherry tree) has actually flowered! It’s shape leaves a lot to be desired but I’m sure it will look a lot better next year.
I moved a large Camellia that was planted at the base of a limestone wall in the front garden two years ago. It had always looked sickly so it was kill or cure. The roots and branches had to be severely cut to get it out and once again it needs some time for regrowth but I think it was worth it.
The flowers have been beautiful this year.
I haven’t forgotten my bees and my husband has provided them with another residence.
The Osmia cornuta have decided to use the drilled holes this year and six of the available twelve have already been filled. They were supposed to use the bamboo as they did last year and leave the drilled holes for the later bees like the leaf cutters.
I let our last year’s mixed salad leaves sprout. They attract lots of interesting bees.
Not the least lots of which is Anthophora plumipes.
I watched an Anthophora plumipes female go in and out checking all the likely holes in our house wall. They seem just as fussy as the queen bumble bees. In the end she flew off without selecting one but I hope she will come back later.
There is lots of Cerinthe flowers to attract the bees in the front garden.
I hope the early spring will be good for the bumble bees too. This early bumblebee ( Bombus pratorum) worker has plenty of pollen to take back to her nest.
Although we are only at the beginning of April it feels like summer in the garden.