A Snowdrop Brunch and Newts

Snowdrops- what a joy

The snowdrops are still fantastic and I had the fun of sharing them with a group of friends when we hosted our first ever “Snowdrop Brunch” to-day. Between the showers (a pity it was not like Thursday when the sun shone all day) we all got outside and thoroughly enjoyed the snowdrop display. In fact the sun did come out later on so a number of our guests went out for a second look and I tried to remember both names and the subtle differences. I can cheat when they are in situ because I pretty much know what is planted where (and there is a helpful label) , but I have much more difficulty when they are in a vase.

I must have more than 60 different varieties now. Inevitably I bought some this year including Lapwing, Wasp and Comet from Pottertons Nursery as well as a few from Avon bulbs who have served me so well in the past. Chris Brown, our wonderful gardener, came bearing gifts on Wednesday – a bag with another 7 or 8 un-named varieties that he has selected and been growing up for several years. Each one is just that little bit different.  I have some way to go before I can call myself a true galanthophile but they do grow so well in our heavy clay lightened with a little leaf mold that I am determined to keep going. Perhaps I will be a galanthophile when I hit the hundred mark? And I really should be able to name them all without relying on a label.


The return of the newts

The newts are back- hurrah. We had to redo our leaking pond in the autumn, putting in a new liner and taking out the invasive Houttuynia cordata.  I was worried that our newts would not find the pond to their liking when they reappeared in the spring. Great crested newts hibernate between November and February in frost-free places and we sometimes find them in our log pile or under paving slabs. But they have made it back to the pond and we counted 14 by torchlight last night. They must trek across the garden to the pond. I did find one by the back doorstep and should have taken a photo. We saw them several weeks ago moving rather slowly in the chilly water and then the temperature dropped and the pond froze over. They must have hunkered down in the mud and gravel at the bottom of the pond and now they have re-emerged ready to mate and lay eggs. They are so tough. Nature is wonderful.

Spring treasures

Bulbs are pushing up all over the garden. I am particularly enjoying the Iris reticulata or are they Iris histrioides. Lady Beatrix Stanley in the rock bed provides a wonderful patch of cornflower blue. She appears very early each year because she is planted up against a grass that I wrap with fleece to provide some winter protection. Lady Beatrix appreciates being cherished and I have to remember to uncover her in January. An iris in a small alpine pot by the front door, also provides a fine splash of colour and it was only when I took a photograph that I realised how lovely the buds are, the feathered stripe of yellow contrasting with the purple. It is labelled Gordon but that cannot be right as he is supposed to be pale blue (Mr B says I could always call him “Not Gordon”) and nor does he seem right for the purple George. Still I will just enjoy him in all his glory.