Slow down April!

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.

View of front

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.

Mole deterant

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.

Left hand side

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.

Fronds of Ash leaved Maple

The silky fronds of the male flowers blow in the wind in the spring and you cannot resist touching them as you pass.

Amelanchier

The Amelanchier is having its moment of glory now but the flowers never attract much insect life.

Cherry blossom

Cherry blossom

The cherries and plum trees are nearly finished blooming.

Mirabelle flower

The Mirabelle plum flower is as delicate as the little, sweet plums.

Victoria plum blossom

Victoria plum blossom

Spring is passing so quickly this year.

1-IMG_0440.first worker

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.

Honey bee on Wisteria

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.

Hellebore plantation

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.

Hellebore overgrowth

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.

Hellebores

The bees are not in agreement and I must admit that the Hellebores have an exceptionally long flowering period.

Ash seedlings

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.

Moved cherry tree

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.

Moved Camelia

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.

Camelia flowers

The flowers have been beautiful this year.

Des Res

I haven’t forgotten my bees and my husband has provided them with another residence.

Osmia cornuta

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.

Last years mixed leaves

I let our last year’s mixed salad leaves sprout.  They attract lots of interesting bees.

Anthophora

Not the least lots of which is  Anthophora plumipes.

Anthophora plumipes female

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.

Male Anthophora plumipes

Male Anthophora plumipes

There is lots of Cerinthe flowers to attract the bees in the front garden.

Worker Bombus pratorum

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.

 

 

 

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35 thoughts on “Slow down April!

    • I can’t imagine the garden without its occupants. Forgot to say, I’ve been hearing a cuckoo now for a week, it’s not in the garden but it goes with this time of year in the garden. Amelia

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  1. I always love seeing your garden and feel like I have wandered round it a little with you. Especially like the last photo of the bumble worker with a butter-coloured pat of pollen.

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  2. Last week felt like summer here too, and the warmth seemed to bring on everything all at once, but we are now having typical April showers and cool winds. Glad that cherry survived, and the Camellia too. Some plants can be so resilient!

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  3. This is a lovely and very informative post, some lovely photos here too. I did not know that carpenter bees pierce Wisteria, nor did I realise how lovely your garden is.

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    • Thank you, it is not a formal garden, I am just trying to form areas of interest that will attract the bees and not require much maintenance in the long term. I am looking for ideas for ground cover and shrubby growth for the edges. Amelia

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      • I love Spring. Spring is MY favorite time of year. Wisteria, we don’t have here for the cold winters it will not survive. Enjoy every moment you can!!! When my lilacs bloom I wish I could bottle the scent! I am just in heaven the short few weeks they are blooming. (sigh) I wish I knew of a way to really bottle that scent. xx Amy

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  4. I have really enjoyed the look around your garden and your beautiful photographs. I am very jealous of your wisteria – I had a mature one in a previous garden that I loved and have been trying to get one to establish here without any luck yet. I am off to try your mole deterrent – our lawn is collapsing with the numbers of runs and new hills appear daily – I am keeping my fingers crossed this might be the answer!

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    • I was just talking to my sister this morning and the Wisteria we had layered and given to her has flowered for the first time. I think some individual plants can be stronger than others. I think it is a matter of luck. Good luck with the moles!

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  5. Hello A,
    The garden is looking lovely, and interesting to see that you don’t get many insects on your Amelanchier either, which makes me wonder what pollinates it in its native territory….maybe there aren’t many alternative and more favoured flowers in ? Canada when it blooms, or maybe there’s a native bee which loves it? I shall file away your mole deterrent for future use!
    BW
    Julian

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  6. Loved the pictures of the bees, Amelia, and especially your husband’s bee home! I think the sad cherry is actually quite a good shape for a radically transplanted tree. Ours went over in the space of a week this year because we are having the same hot weather as you. I envy Cathy her April showers, mine are provided with sprinklers in the evening. I wonder if your mole deterrent would work for the voles that eat the roots of our plants – I think I’ll try it next week. As you say, not easy on the eye, but worth it if it works. Thanks for the pictures, Cathy

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    • Our blossom is hanging all quite well this year perhaps it is because the temperatures are still quite fresh during the night and we haven’t had any high winds. The days are like summer still. Amelia

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  7. The colours in your garden are lovely – and the variety of bees is interesting. Like your wisteria in France, we have wonderful wisterias in a few gardens here in Egypt, but you have to be adventurous to find them; now the jacaranda trees are flowering, covered in blossoms of a similar lilac hue. You are right – spring can feel more like summer. The housing you have provided for the bees is delightful – hope they feel at home!

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    • It must be too cold for them in Norway. I have only ever seen them once or twice in my life as they stay underground most of the time, tunnelling and eating earthworms. They are very cute and have a beautiful fur. Ladies used to have moleskin fur coats. Ameia

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