March is proving to be a sunny month this year and what a difference some sunshine can make.
We are getting stuck into the lengthy job of preparing the soil beds in the newly laid out ‘Enclosed Garden’. The winter mud is gradually drying out and, thankfully, the soil is returning to its crumbly, former texture which gives us hope for a successful growing year ahead. Whilst we wait for the holly hedges to grow back, the gardens are very exposed and will be vulnerable to east winds and winter chill for a few years. However, as compensation, they are south facing and that will allow maximum sunshine to bathe the plants and soil, much to their advantage. It won’t be long now till the first plants are in the ground and the new garden springs to life.
Bright promise of spring from the daffodils
If you were born in March then you will know that your birth flower is the daffodil – part of a larger family of flowers with the latin name Narcissus.
We’re lucky to have a large number of ‘heirloom’ bulbs – varieties that existed pre-1940 – growing at the house. Back in the day, the garden was renowned for its daffodils and although we may have lost some of them over the years, there are several large clumps still to identify but it takes an expert’s eye. While the good weather lasts, why not take yourself off to the nearest park or garden and have a really close look at some of the daffodils on show. There are tall daffodils, double daffodils, mini daffodils, narcissus, jonquils and many other varieties in shades of white, yellow and orange. The differences will amaze you.
Or, if you are out walking, you might find them as remote, garden escapes, the last remnants of a garden long time gone or a stray bulb that has been dropped out of a rubbish bag. Wherever they are, they are noticeable, bright and cheerful. Here are some of our heirloom ‘Van Sion’ daffodils.
From tiny seeds grow giant redwoods
We were fortunate to be gifted a Giant Redwood sapling a short time ago and now that the soil is workable we successfully planted it in the wider grounds at the rear of the house. We have built a sturdy tree shelter to protect it from hungry deer and rabbits and to give some protection from strong winds. The Five Sisters – our existing Sequoia trees – have now become ‘Five Aunties’ and can keep their watchful eye over the little one’s progress and we all hope ‘Wee Fergus’ will grow
into Big Fergus – but only the bairns’ bairns will know that answer!
Birdsong fills the air
Whilst working in the garden last week, I was struck by just how much birdsong there is now on a daily basis. A month or so ago, there was the occasional robin singing quietly on a bare branch, a passing flight of geese squawking noisily as they passed overhead or perhaps a thrush singing loudly to warn of approaching rain.
Now we have blackbirds, goldlfinches, blue tits, chaffinches, buzzards, crows, sparrows and any number of other birds singing away but who they are can sometimes be a bit of a mystery. How many birds can you identify by sound alone? It can be an invaluable skill. Sometimes, when out walking you may never see the actual bird but by recognising its call you might be able catch a glimpse as it flies into a bush or soars away into the heavens.
As we gear up for the Easter Holidays, here’s a little challenge all the family can do. See how many you can solve – you might be surprised by the results.