I missed Bloom Day one year ago. There was still much snow on the ground and temperatures were cool. This year, however, we have had an unseasonably warm winter and a very warm week although today was cool. Warm temperatures push blooms and buds and while I have a sense of impending doom in the form of fear. Fear of real cold and real cold damage to now tender growth, I am going to embrace Nature's gifts this March and push that worry aside at least for today. The winter aconites are ten days ahead of last year's bloom and there have been new additions to the gardens and the lawn this year. Fall planted spring blooming bulbs have started their display. I planted two patches of Crocus tommasinianus and while they are small, they are thrilling. I will plant more, right in the lawn which gets no weed killer(stating the obvious here given its condition). The real thrill is in the I. histroides var major x winogradowii 'Katherine Hodgkin' pictured at the top of this post. Her delicate wedgewood blue is easily overlooked but upon close inspection is superb in detailed perfection. I look forward to seeing your new blooms this season and, as always, I thank Carol of May Dreams for her hosting of Bloom Day which lets all of us take a peak into new gardens the world around.
Yes, I know they are out there. The bees are leaving their marks in the form of footprints. Bees are hard to capture in a photo and especially difficult when they are 'doing their bee business' in the flowers of the snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis. The pollen covered anthers are tucked well inside the cup of this diminutive flower and can only be seen if one picks the flower. Not a bad idea since the fragrance is full and heady. I had almost forgotten about that fragrance. A good friend and fellow blogger, Kathy of Cold Climate Gardening, posted here about her little snowdrop bouquets and reminded me that the first scent of spring should not be missed. The snowdrops have been up and 'in the white' for several weeks now but cool temperatures kept them tight white with no hint of that delightful, unique and green chevron which marks the inner tepals of the flower. This green mark serves to attract and guide pollinators to the nectar source and it also provides a spot for photosynthesis thus increasing the amount of energy reserves of this plant. But, back to the bees. They have left their marks on the white petals as they scamper here and there in their late winter frenzy of activity spurred on by an unusually warm day. Little bits of pollen are left in their wake. I have not seen them but I do know they were there. There are over twenty species of snowdrops and many different cultivars. There are some gardeners who are very interested in owning many of these but I am happy with just this species. You can read more about them here. The subtleties of the cultivars are lost on me. Some have a small petticoat and some have a wider green chevron but I will leave those to the avid devotees and just long for great sweeps of white. Those sweeps happen slowly. I don't remember where I got my first clump of snowdrops but I think they arrived amid the tangled roots of a 'passalong' plant given by a friend. The bulbs of Galanthus are really a bit dear given their size and proclivity for spreading but perhaps that is the reason. You really don't need to keep ordering them. Just spread the seed heads around when they are ripe and they sprout here and there. Or, you can divide the clumps and enjoy the show the following year. How about you? Have you seen any bees in the garden yet or pollinators of any kind? Have you seen any bee footprints?
The view of a bridge can evoke many different responses depending on the style, setting and size of that bridge. The bridge at Wickets leads one into green pastures, quite literally. The handrails are a serene robin's egg blue with a graceful arch which spans a small pond. It can be seen from the formal garden where it teasingly beckons but one can't leave the garden rooms quickly. There is much too much to see within the portals of the gate. The gateway into the garden or, rather gardens, is on the side of the fairytale cottage. From the front of the cottage there is little to indicate the many garden rooms, lush borders and verdant pastures waiting for exploration behind the house. I saw this garden in two stages. The first lasted a good hour before our group was ushered across the street to enjoy tea and treats in a lovely community room as storm clouds gathered. During our tea the wind blew and the rain fell and once it stopped, I ventured back across the street to further explore the now rose petal laden paths. I had missed the chickens and the back seating area. It is not unusual to find several chickens clucking about a garden in England. In fact, it is unusual not to find them. Most pictures were taken before the storm in the filtered light of a cloudy day which always produces better photographs. The exception is the one of the petal strewn grass paths and the one above of these chickens where the color difference is dramatic. The shadows are longer and darker and the colors very bright. No English garden is complete without a gravel area and the gravel garden at Wickets is home to a lovely sculpture which views the garden from a thoughtful pose. It is off to the left side of the property. Directly behind the house is just one of the many inviting sitting areas. Breakfast on this patio would be more than divine. Lady's mantle spills across the pavers with frothy green flowers while shrub roses embrace the table. The scent is divine. The borders are impossibly lush with alliums bigger than basketballs although the full spectrum of different sized globes are well represented. Winding paths lead one through the garden and there is always something to see along the way as the grass path travels around the property. We visited in June and there was no lack of color. I have never seen such large purple leaf elderberry shrubs or roses so lush. The elderberry grow eight to ten feet in height in this part of Essex. Mine have never reached higher than three feet. It must be a testament to longer days and milder winters. The grass paths meander through room after garden room until finally leading over that beguiling bridge. The bridge is in the 'wild' zone and leads to a grassy knoll with a bench almost hidden by that swaying grass. It was impossible not to take a moment to sit on that bench and enjoy the view which the garden owners, Susan and Doug Copeland, admirably framed with pines on the left. Mowing the field grass in front of the knoll directs the eye to the view beyond. This garden was created with love and plant knowledge and also a keen knack for framing a view. This is a view one could ponder season upon season, year after year. I would never tire of it, would you?