The cold garden

I ventured out into the garden yesterday. It was a cold February morning but according to the news, worse weather was to come. As I walked through the garden, the frost was starting to thaw beneath my feet as the low sun touched the grass, leaving behind a cold, wet, muddy ground.
Some shady patches of the garden still lingered where the sun’s rays hadn’t yet reached. In these dark areas the grass stood stiff, like little icy soldiers on parade.
Even though it was cold, there were still signs that the garden was slowly starting to awaken from its deep winter slumber.

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Vibrant crocuses shone brightly in the sunshine, primroses and snowdrops showed off their dainty flowers, and beautiful dwarf irises stood proud by the edge of the pond.

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20180217_123930.jpg Hellebores bowed their pretty pastel flower heads to the sun whilst the green stems of daffodils and crocosmia poked out from last year’s leaf debris.

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Plants aren’t the only sign that Spring isn’t far away…..
The sun is still low in the sky but does its best to shine, and daylight is getting a little long with each passing day. Birds are very active at the moment, they are fighting for mates, singing for territories and looking for places to nest.
As I stood under a tree, the robin was singing high up on a branch claiming his territory whilst I watched blackbirds and bluetits fighting for a mate. The garden was full of bird song and I had some more nest boxes to put up to help my feathered friends out.
Today however……. is completely different, and reminds me that we are a still in winter.

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There is snow everywhere. All those pretty flowers and young shoots are covered in a white fluffy blanket and where there was water there is now ice. I can still see glimpses under the snow of buds and small shoots on the cotoneaster and honeysuckle and, there is even a tiny hint of yellow as a daffodil wearily pokes its head the white powdery fluff.

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As I walked round the garden, I made sure all the bird feeders were topped up as they will go down very quickly in this cold weather. I also broke the thin layer of ice in the pond and put fresh water in all the birdbaths. The birds didn’t even wait for me to leave as within minutes there were blue tits, starlings, a long tailed tit and a robin straight on the feeders not wanting to waste anytime fuelling their tiny fluffed up bodies.
It’s important in this cold weather, while you are tucked up inside your warm cosy homes, to think of the wildlife that live or visit your garden. They don’t have the luxury  of central heating and a supermarket, so please help them out.

bluetit BGBW2018

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The “Sol Monath” garden

From the warmth of a cosy room behind a window, the garden looks dead and uninviting at this time of year. But for all those that brave the cold wet February weather will know that the garden is anything but barren and lifeless.
The garden in February sees the start of new life sprouting from the ground and to the Celts indicated a time for new beginnings. February gets its name from the Roman festival of purification called “Februa” but I have heard that there is also an Old English name “Sol Monath.” This means “Mud month” which I think describes the month perfectly.
In the garden at the moment, it’s cold and damp, and the faint sun can be seen hanging low in the sky behind the silhouette of tree branches. At a quick glance the garden doesn’t seem that inviting but as I look around I see signs of life popping up around me.
Bright green moss and beautiful fungi are cheering up the damp areas of the garden, and fresh cyclamen leaves are emerging from under the trees. bountqplrvp.jpg.jpg

Delicate bright green shoots are popping up from the lawn as daffodil bulbs start to awaken, and vibrant crocuses start to bloom.img_20170211_173215.jpg2017-02-12-15-25-16-048.jpg

Hellebore flower heads are just poking up from the ground adding pastel shades to the garden;2017-02-12-15-23-54-419.jpg

whilst primroses and dwarf iris also add a zing of colour.img_20170110_174308.jpg20170211_133736.jpg

I have even seen some weeds starting to appear in the bare soil, a sign that I need to wrap up warm and get out there to do some weeding.

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Snowdrops have got to be my all-time favourite plant in the garden at this time of year as they symbolise the end of a dreary barren winter and the new beginnings of bright joyful spring.img_20170131_172848.jpg

Their lovely bell shaped flowers weigh heavy with raindrops and they are a beautiful sight to see. It won’t be long till the snowdrops can be divided. Just after they have flowered and the leaves are still green is the best time to divide the bulbs into smaller clumps and plant them elsewhere in the garden. I love dividing plants such as snowdrops and primroses as it is like nature’s free gift to me for all the hard work I do in the garden.

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Later on in the day, as I walk around the garden I notice a mole hill that has suddenly appeared in the lawn and there are several blackbirds polishing off some windfall apples under a tree. The tree branches are covered in beautiful lichen, and delicate catkins dangling from the hazel tree are also a lovely feature at this time of year.  It’s lovely to watch them swaying gently on the breeze, waiting ready to drift their pollen into the wind as they seek out a catkin of the opposite sex.img_20170208_174024.jpg

And as I head indoors and the sun sets on the garden, the feathery plumes of the grasses (which have been left for winter interest) are baked in a beautiful warm copper glow.

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Life is anything but dull in the garden in the month of February.