Such changeable weather

We’ve had some high winds and fast moving weather systems recently in East Anglia. Clouds, some with and some without rain, have been whipping across the Suffolk countryside.

These photographs were taken in less than a minute as we drove through the pleasant village of Little Glemham. It was almost a Hitchcock moment with the sudden darkening of the sky, but without the multiple flocks of birds.

And, then back in Ipswich on Monday, walking through Christchurch Park, it was all jolly waving daffodils in the bright spring sunshine . . .

and I spotted . . . a flashy, noisy bird who turned out to be camera shy!

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Come on more spring flowers please!

Last month we had strange weather. February had days feeling like spring and I saw people walking around in T-shirts! In climate terms a week of warm weather in February is disturbing.

However, March, so far, is turning out to be more like a usual March. It has been very, very windy, but that hasn’t affected these British grown tulips. They come from some of the extensive glass houses in Lincolnshire. Growing under glass has enabled British tulip growers to compete with imports from overseas and there are no air or sea miles. Growing under the protection of glass also lengthens the season for growing all kinds of cut flowers. Have you noticed how stocks (Matthiola incana) have joined the buckets of roses and lilies commonly available? However, for us domestic gardeners in East Anglia it will be another month before even the tulips are blooming in full force.

This bunch of tulips lasted well over a week before fading away.

This year I resisted the temptation to plant seeds in February. I am holding my nerve even with the indoor sowings. I am trying to avoid weak, leggy seedlings as I don’t have a greenhouse to provide consistent good daylight.

It is early days in the ‘new’ old backyard and too dreary to photograph with piles of rubble left behind by previous owners. Although it is a small space, it’s going to be a long old haul to sort out, but some pots of pelargoniums and dahlias, and a mini swathe of hardy annuals should at least add some colour for this summer.

Looking forward to having bunches of cosmos and dahlias – hopefully.

Expecting the best, I have already had a poke around in the pots of the overwintered dahlias and, fingers crossed, so far they’ve come through the winter. From now on I just have to watch out for early slug damage to the tender new shoots.

At last I have a rough plan, you could, at a stretch, call it a design for the backyard. It has been just over a year since I moved in and I have been observing the sunlight and shade patterns and I can see I have my work cutout to achieve any kind of flower garden. Disappointingly, there’s more shade than I had expected, not least from the enormous eucalyptus tree three gardens down.

It is a long-established tree and is easily 10 feet or so taller than the surrounding three-storey houses. As I write, its upper branches are violently whipping around, bending this way and that in the strong winds. It is really quite inappropriate for a Victorian terrace backyard and it overhangs six gardens. I am guessing it was originally planted to screen out the neighbours at the bottom of the garden and has just been left to grow and grow by a series of non-gardening homeowners.

Finishing on a more optimistic note I am looking forward to more of this

and many more of these!

My daylily potted up in Norwich, transported and transplanted and forming a healthy, vibrant clump with shoots already over three inches tall.

It’s Officially Spring

Thistil-gold-ShowcaseIt was the Vernal Equinox on Tuesday and despite all the wintery and bitterly cold wind (a short visit from Mini-beast last week, the cousin of the Beast from the East) it is officially spring and just a little bit warmer today. And, furthermore, with impeccable timing the UK Handmade Spring Showcase went live on Tuesday too.

UKHandmade-Spring-Showcase

I have been lucky enough to be selected for this showcase and two of my scarves have been featured.

Tudor-Bows-Blue-bannerI think the two photos chosen are bright and colourful –  hopefully capturing that optimism associated with spring. Who doesn’t need some bright cheeriness after the winter?

Tudor-bows-blue-tied-11-InstaTudor Bows Blue – hand painted, long silk twill scarf.

Inspirational tulips plus two arrangements

white tulip arrangement

It’s Chelsea this week and it’s pouring with rain, so English! And thinking of flowers I see that the tulips are just finishing their annual contribution to the garden. They provide beautiful strong intense colours,

but also delicate shades for the spring garden.

And, then there is the drama of using tulips in a restricted palette for the odd flower arrangement or two.

pink flower arrangement tulips
But it has been white, at least in my garden this spring, that has been the most eye-catching accent colour against the fresh green.

Tulip-white-triumphator

May Day Holiday – labouring in the garden

End-of-dayUnusual for us Brits to get a Bank Holiday with sunshine so I made the most of it busy in the garden. Seem to be snowed under with self-sewn white honesty this year.

Honesty-soldiers

All the greens are vivid and fresh and over the pergola the wisteria is just about to burst into its dramatic display.

Spring-garden

It’s a busy time in the garden pricking out seedlings, potting on and preparing the raised beds for plantings.

Pricking-out

I’m always surprised at how each year the garden is different. Over the winter some plants have survived and others have withered, but this spring the amalanchier lamarkii (Juneberry) is finally looking tree-like after 10 years.

Amalanchier lamarkii finally looking more like a tree than a shrub.
Amalanchier lamarkii finally looking more like a tree than a shrub.

Nature does yellow – nobody does it better


It’s that time of year when yellow is big in the garden and often just for a few days you might see people dressed in yellow. For us northern European folks yellow is a notoriously difficult colour to wear successfully. A pale lemon or a gentle soft buttercup knit may look fine in out northern light, but after the long winter and many indoor hours too often even pale yellow does not enhance a washed out and sometimes sickly complexion. Strong bright or piercing acidic yellows are mostly definitely out. And, it’s not just clothing, I’ve noticed how bright yellow cars appear less than appealing in our spring sunshine, yet somehow in the same light nature’s yellow is so satisfying.

Whether it’s cultivated daffodils, violas or forsythia, or even the humble roadside dandelion, nature’s yellow is eye-catching, refreshing and triumphant.

Tudor bows, but art nouveau colours

Dye-pots-bramleyAt the moment I am painting another scarf inspired by the Tudor bows seen in the stained glass from St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St Edmunds. However, this time I’ve taken the bow motif and, with spring in the air, used some lighter spring pinks and greens.

Strangely, it was seeing this art nouveau ceramic tile that was the final push to make me mix up these seedtime colours.

I said no photographs, please

Blackbird-nest-building

“I think that means you behind the lens – I can see you”

'Now I saw that. You just took another picture, didn't you?"
‘Now I saw that. You just took another picture, didn’t you?”

“Look, I don’t want everyone knowing where I live. Privacy, please.”

"Go away and get on with your own work now. I'm very busy today. This is only a 10 second break. You may not realise this, but nest building is a rather labour-intensive business."
“Go away and get on with your own work now. I’m very busy today. This is only a 10 second break. You may not realise this, but nest building is a rather labour-intensive business.”

Time to prune

Wisteria May 2013If you want the above in early summer then now’s the time to get up the ladder and prune the wisteria. Here we start with a big tangle.

Wisteria Feb 2014

Trace the long wippy growth from last summer back towards the main framework of the plant. Make an angled cut, pruning back to a couple of fat buds leaving a spur of about three or four inches.

A couple of hours later and the winter prune is done. Depending on your soil you may want to beef up last autumn’s mulch with some light, garden compost to promote spring growth. Now leave the rest to nature and hopefully it will develop like this.

Wisteria floribunda after its winter prune.
Wisteria floribunda after its winter prune.