Swallows in the morning light

Part of the daffodil walk

The arrival of glorious warm spring, trailing showers and golden flowers in her wake has been the most welcome visitor of this last week. And how quickly we and the garden and all its inhabitants have responded. Where a cold desert froze at my feet, there are now bees and flies and butterflies. beetles and ants busy themselves and in the bushes and trees, birdsong and nest-building. A lovely Mistle thrush has her nest in a tree. She defends it stoutly from all-comers, chasing the woodpeckers away, who themselves are searching for a nest site.

Swallows in the morning light

Swallows in the morning light

And overhead, the skies full of returning swallows and martins, singing their joyful homecoming songs from on the wing and from on the wires. We saw our first swallow last Sunday, and a handful of sand martins. Yesterday there were many more and house martins had joined the party.

It always felt, through those last few weeks where spring was penned back by the cold easterly air mass, that when spring came, it would come with a rush. And that is how it feels-a great release of energy and optimism carried through on the wings of swallows. And relief that the winter is finally over.

the decorative gardener


croft-gateWe took a short break on Wednesday afternoon to get some exercise and to see what progress the plants at the local National Trust garden were making.

If  you strip away the stately home, nay castle, the chapel, the 1500 acre parkland and farm, the Victorian walled garden, our place is just the same as Croft Castle. We share the same sort of soil, are at roughly the same altitude and our gardens face south. See? Very similar!

Within the walled garden there are chickens, bee hives, vines, an orchard and perennial borders. Over the winter there has been much path laying and whilst it is not quite finished the gardeners were restoring the borders where they had been affected by the work. This picture summed up the work in its on-going phase, the gardener having left his tools for a well-earned tea break, the stones removed from the border lying on the path. I love the faded paintwork on the blue door, the neat and tidy wire strainers  for attaching the espalier fruit trees to in parallel rows on each side. There is something beautiful in the simplicity of this scene.

The path is goicroft-pathng to be surfaced with a bonded gravel and will be a practical surface for the many visitors, but I think this old brick and cobble path in another part of the garden  is delightful.  It makes me wish there were old bricks and stones knocking about at home to make a path like it. The apples are beautifully pruned too. In fact, I had orchard envy and need to learn how to make my trees look this

Plant wise, the colour was mostly being supplied by bulbs-daffodils, crocus and snowdrops, quantities of chionodoxa and scillas, including a pink chionodoxa with many honeybee visitors. There were clumps of pulmonaria with bees too, but that was about the sum of the plants in flower.Very much the same things I have in flower at home, with the exception of the pink chionodoxa and that has been added to my wish list. I think it would be nice to plant  a clump under an apple tree to repeat the pink colour when the apple blossoms opens.

And on the same subject, my neighbours are growing  clumps of Primula denticulata “Alba” alongside a rich blue pulmonaria in their front garden.  It looks stunning and is a planting idea I shall cheerfully steal. Have you seen anything eye-catching or heart stopping, plant combination wise recently?