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.
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.
Horse-chestnut sticky buds (Aesculus hippocastanum)
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.
Lichen in the hedge
Hazel male catkins (Corylus avellana)
Hazel female catkins with their tiny red petals
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.
Reflection of sky and cloud in our big pond
Our Silver Birch tree (Betula pendula) is also growing its catkins.
Thin ice on the pond. Hail has got frozen onto the ice that was already there.
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.
The Christmas Box (Sarcococca) is also scenting the garden.
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.
The Mahonia (Mahonia x media ‘Charity’) with its Lily-of-the-Valley scent has been flowering since the end of October.
The first of my miniature Iris Reticulata bloomed today
A tiny crocus has appeared in the rough grass under one of the crabapple trees.
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.
Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
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!