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Sunday, 12 April 2015

Liz's Log - Spring Emerging

A Fresh New Start

"for plants and wildlife"

It's been a very long time coming, but 'spring' has finally graced us with it's presence.  Fresh, vibrant green leaves are unfolding everywhere, perfectly formed, offering new hope, and a fresh start.  As mother nature emerges from hibernation refreshed, new wonders unfold it seems, almost by the hour.  Birdsong has taken up a new pace as days are longer, and, as our little winged friends' pair up, they get ready to rear their first offspring of the year.  As weed seedlings emerge from the gradually warming soil, this signals that it's safe to sow seed without them rotting in the cold.  Blossom ladened trees fill the air with a heavy perfume that will be all too brief, and yet, has lingered in our memories since childhood.  Ponds are filled with millions upon millions of frogs, frogspawn and tadpoles, so once again, I know I will not have a slug problem this year.  As I lift the tarpaulin from the top of my compost heap, I eagerly await the return of smooth newts looking for somewhere warm to snuggle up, on the cold nights. 

As you have probably guessed by now, I love wildlife.  Infact, I  design my whole garden around their welfare, and they are such an important part of the way I garden, that it's hard to imagine life without them.  I grow everything the organic way, using no chemicals at all, combining this with the creation of wildlife habitats, growing native species plants, and letting nature 'move into' my garden.  It takes no more time to put up a nesting box, than it does to mix a pesticide, but my birds eat the pests, so it's time well spent encouraging them into my garden.  I make log piles that gradually rot down, becoming home to many many creatures like Woodlice, that eat dead matter, and a little Wren that eats all the insects living around the log pile.  My garden sits on a bed of sandstone which gradually comes to the surface, so everytime I weed, I earth up anything from little pieces, to big boulders of the this brittle orange sedimentary rock.  This gives me the perfect opportunity to make little mounds of sandstone in and amongst the plants.  It's amazing how many wildlife species will shelter in these rocks, anything from frogs, newts, ladybirds, bees, woodlice, spiders, ground beetles and centipedes, right up to shrews.  The whole organic/wildlife ethos makes for a richer Biodiversity in my garden, in turn giving me the opportunity to see more of the wildlife I love.

Here on the Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire border, anything can happen regarding the weather.  This winter has been tough, not because of particularly severe conditions like heavy snow, or thick ice - indeed, we haven't even had excessive rain.  No it's been tough because of non-stop cold.  Most winters' past have enjoyed some milder days, but not this time, which means herbaceous plants never break their dormancy and the ground never warms up, so we cannot sow seed.  This week has been the first time temperatures have lifted from an average of 4˚C all winter. It's been between 14˚C - 16˚C over the last week, and at last I have been able to be out gardening.  Alas, it hasn't lasted long though, as the forecast is for 0˚C tonight, and not getting milder until the middle of next week.

So, what's been happening in my garden this month so far?

Here are some of the plants that have come into flower during the past two weeks, and a few of the ones that are just emerging from the ground.

Drumstick Primula -  Primula denticulata
Great plant for Bees to get a quick snack of nectar when very little is about

Common Lungwort - Pulmonaria officinalis
Great plant for Bees to get a quick snack of nectar when very little is about

Columbine - Aquilegia
One of many self-seeded

Flag - Bearded Iris
Unknown variety

Stonecrop - Sedum 'Autumn Joy

Bleeding Heart - Lamprocapnos spectabilis

Unknown variety

Turk's Cap Lily - Lilium superbum

Virginia Creeper - parthenocissus quinquefolia
You can just see the pink leaf buds swelling.