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This is a post featuring a few of the things I have noticed in our garden recently.  A large part of the garden is exposed to the prevailing south-westerly wind and we find plants here are slower to grow and flower than those in other gardens near us.  I have seen large carpets of Winter Aconites in other peoples gardens but there is no sign of them here at all.   The beds around the house and near the hedge are more sheltered and this is where we see the first signs of spring.

IMG_1868Ash buds (640x427)

Buds on the Ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior)

I like the Ash’s black, conical buds – they look a little like deer hooves.  So far, we haven’t found any sign of ‘Ash die-back’ in our garden yet.  This is caused by the Hymenoscyphus fraxineus fungus.  East Anglia is badly affected and has lost many of its Ash trees already.

IMG_1849Horse Chestnut leaf buds (640x427)

Horse-chestnut sticky buds (Aesculus hippocastanum)

IMG_1854Buds on Blackthorn in hedge (640x427)

Little red buds on the Blackthorn in the hedge (Prunus spinosa)

While I was photographing these I looked up and found a Barn Owl was flying straight towards me.  I don’t know who was more surprised, the owl or me!  I tried to photograph it before it veered away from me but I couldn’t focus in time.

IMG_1855Lichen in the hedge (640x427)

Lichen in the hedge

IMG_1847Hazel catkins (640x427)

 Hazel male catkins (Corylus avellana)


IMG_1848Female flowers of Hazel (640x427)

Hazel female catkins with their tiny red petals

IMG_1865Catkin 'bud' (640x427)

Hazel bud



IMG_1864Catkin starting to emerge (640x427)

Hazel buds.

I wondered what these were on our hazel trees as I had never noticed them before.  None of my books mentioned buds looking like this so I googled for information and discovered a photograph that looked like mine on ramblingsofanaturalist.blogspot.com.  The author says that these are bud galls made by the mite Phytoptus avellanae.  He also talks about unopened brown catkins which have been attacked by either the mite Phyllocoptes coryli or the Cedidomyid midge Contarinia coryli.   I had also seen distorted brown catkins and had wondered about them too but had been unable to get a clear photo of them.

IMG_1861Reflection in pond (640x427)

Reflection of sky and cloud in our big pond

IMG_1862Flying ducks (640x440)

Flying ducks

IMG_1853Birch catkins (640x427)

Our Silver Birch tree (Betula pendula) is also growing its catkins.

IMG_3948Ice on the pond (640x480)

Thin ice on the pond. Hail has got frozen onto the ice that was already there.

IMG_3947Icy pond (640x480)

The icy pond

The Witch-hazel (Hamamelis) is flowering in its large pot next to the front door and on mild days fills the porch with scent.

IMG_3955Christmas Box (640x480)

The Christmas Box (Sarcococca) is also scenting the garden.

IMG_3956Winter-flowering Honeysuckle (640x480)

Another scented shrub – the Winter-flowering Honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima)

This shrub Honeysuckle is a real favourite of mine.  Its small flowers are powerfully scented and it flowers from mid-winter until well into spring hardly stopping except in the harshest of weathers.  It is virtually evergreen and the flowers are followed by bright red heart-shaped berries loved by Blackbirds.

IMG_3958Mahonia (640x480)

The Mahonia (Mahonia x media ‘Charity’) with its Lily-of-the-Valley scent has been flowering since the end of October.

IMG_4027Miniature iris (640x480)

The first of my miniature Iris Reticulata bloomed today

IMG_1858Crocus (640x427)

A tiny crocus has appeared in the rough grass under one of the crabapple trees.

IMG_1859Crocuses (640x427)

I found some more – paler ones this time. I hope the birds don’t rip them up and the mole doesn’t dig them up.



IMG_1842Goldfinch (640x424)

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

IMG_1843Song Thrush (640x427)

Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)

Finally, here is the setting full moon seen on the morning of 4th February.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!