Spring Stirrings

On this, the last weekend of Winter, a week of showers, sun and mild weather has the garden already looking to the season ahead, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

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To me, Crocus epitomises the first of the spring flowers

All over the garden, plants are warming up for the Spring foot-race that becomes an all out marathon in the weeks ahead.

I’ve already shown the Muscari armeniacum which have been blooming in the most sheltered area of the garden, but I love them, and they deserve another look.

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Muscari armeniacum

It shows the power of the micro-climate: elsewhere in the garden, the Muscari have only just started to emerge, such as this little pink variety….

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Hard to believe this is in the same garden it is so far behind!


Narcissi are the stalwart of the early spring garden. The dwarf varieties have been flowering for weeks, and while they are fading, still look good enough to bring a smile:

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The taller Narcissus varieties have also started to open

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I’ll have to be quick however, there is a Cockatoo that is visiting the garden who likes to munch on all of the flower spikes. I am finding half-chewed stems everywhere (!)

Unfortunately for the daffodils, the Cockatoo also takes all of the leaves off, which means the bulbs will likely perish, and unfortunately for me, the Cockatoo only seems to like the more unusual varieties, leaving the bog-standard yellow ones untouched 😦


The very first Anemone coronaria has opened.

I adore these flowers.

This was part of a mixed “De-Caan” hybrid pack, so there should also be some red and white ones to follow, but so far I can see only blue buds….

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Ipheon uniflorum have been in flower since mid-winter but continue to look lovely:

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Helleborus continue to impress with their deep, rich colours:

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In the most sheltered areas of the garden, Primulas are in almost full-swing:

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Bellis perennis have kept a vigil all winter-long, and are still lovely:

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Papaver nudicale, normally a short-lived annual for most gardeners, spot flower for most of the year, but the first spring flushes are still a joy to behold.

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Shrubs are also getting in on the act, with the earliest-blooming azaleas starting to make an appearance.

These lovely blooms belong to Rhododendron spinuliferum ‘Crossbill’:

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The ever brash crimson of the early flowering Azalea indica ‘Red-wing’:

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Another early flowering Rhododendron (unknown cultivar) in brilliant magenta:

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And what of the early flowering variety that got caught in a snow-fall two weeks ago as I planted it? Many expressed concerns that it would be okay. Well, here it is; the carmine buds of Rhododendron ‘Robyn’ have turned to a soft lilac-pink:

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The Camellia japonica ‘Hino-Maru’ in the hedge-row along the property line is also delightful:

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And, lastly for this weeks’ wrap-up is the delightful scent of my little Daphne odora in bloom.

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Amazing to think that such a small plant can fill the air with a delightful fragrance!

Happy Gardening 🙂

Is it Spring Already?

Not quite.

It’s snowing again and more is forecast this afternoon.

Thankfully it’s not heavy like two weeks ago and is only settling in tiny, icy drifts as it is just too windy for anything substantial to stay on the ground.

The bitter wind-chill is -18°C / -1°F, and, coupled with the actual air temperature still below freezing at midday, it is particularly unpleasant outside.

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Icy snow crystals. I’m sure the Inuit have a word for this wind-blown stuff. I have to post this to prove it is still winter as the following pictures look like mid-spring!

But try telling that to some parts of the garden!


In the little sheltered microclimates I have created with fences, under tall evergreens and by enclosing spaces around outbuildings – and mulching all garden beds –  has meant that spring has started in a few select spots in the garden.

Even on a frigid day like today, stepping into these parts of the garden is noticeably warmer; the howling gale is reduced to a noisy breeze and the wind-blown snow hasn’t settled…here I can actually take my gloves off to press the I-pad camera button.

While the rest of the garden is still grey, brown and still stuck in winter, these little micro-climates really lift the spirits and extend the spring blooming season ahead for months!

So here it is….pictures from the most sheltered parts of the garden, that make a liar of my assertions that it is still cold :-).

First up, little dwarf Narcissi ‘Little Gem’ :

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Narcissus ‘Little Gem’ near an emerging Spanish Bluebell

Narcissus ‘Erlicheer’:

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Narcissus ‘Erlicheer’

The brilliant yellows certainly brighten any dreary day.

Muscari armeniacum in this area have also punched through the chill with their precious little jewel-like grapes:

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Muscari armeniacum

 Primulas are starting to put on a great display; first is the annual candelabra variety:

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Primula malacoides

The more traditional, Primula vulgaris also joins in. This cultivar is ‘High Tea Drumcliff’ it has fabulous deep green leaves:

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Primula vulgaris ‘High Tea Drumcliff’

Ipheon uniflorum – which started flowering over a month ago, is really doing well in this part of the garden. Other clumps elsewhere have not even begun to stir, so it will be great to get months of these delicate blue beauties:

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Ipheon uniflorum

A little Nemesia aromatica plug that I planted in autumn has started to perform; it normally smells lovely, but the air is too cold to enjoy the perfume today:

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Nemesia aromatica

The same goes for the Daphne odora in this sheltered, warm part of the garden. Even though its first flowers have opened, the chill makes it impossible to smell anything:

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Daphne odora

Helleborus are heralding the end of winter. These were all put in as tiny plugs last year, so it is really heartening to see them start to flower so soon:

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Helleborus niger

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Helleborus niger

But some warm microclimates weren’t created by me. I’ve just taken advantage of them. The front of the house faces due North and gets all-day sun.

Unlike the siding of the rest of the house, the basement wall is brick, and I’ve painted it a dark colour to ensure as much heat as possible is retained.

It works a treat, and I get roses blooming in mid-winter on bare branches:

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Climbing Iceberg Roses and Osteospermums love this warm, sheltered spot

It’s quite an odd thing to see, but I’m rather warming to it 🙂

Happy Gardening!

The Joys of Summer (?!?!)

Despite the fact that it’s mid-summer here, the mountain weather can be very changeable and after having had a very warm October and November, the last few weeks have seen the temperature return to more normal conditions.

That means nights about 12°C/53°F & days about 22°C/71°F, as well as misty, showery days that struggle to get above even 10-12°C thrown in for good measure.

I think that this has confused some of the plants. For instance, I had planted small Helleborus divisions around the garden last Autumn.

Now, in the middle of summer, is the first time one of them has flowered, and it has been blooming for over two weeks (click for larger images):

Given how many more buds are waiting to open, I guess I won’t see too many blooms from this plant come winter time, but it is nice to see a Helleborus in flower with such fresh, green leaves!

In the shaded areas of the garden, things can be really slow to take off. I put these little impatiens seedlings in around late October, and still, almost nothing. Here they are with the Fuchsias in late November, showing a few flowers, but almost no growth (click for larger images):

I’m amazed that they have remained this tiny without the slugs and snails finishing them off. Here they are in January:

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Impatient these Impatiens are not…..

As well as winter flowers,I also have the first few autumn leaves:

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First Japanese Maple leaves

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Dogwood (Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’) starting to wear autumn colours

But as well enjoying a respite from hot days, there are some benefits!

The Chilliwack Raspberries have ripened early (I’ve already picked and eaten quite a few), but its leaves too, have started to put on an autumn show!

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Bountiful Autumn Harvest….!?!

It goes to show that you don’t need frost for half-decent autumn colour. The coolest night we have had these past few weeks is 6°C/43°F (with most above 10°C/50°F).

I always find it fascinating to see which plants rely mostly on temperature changes, rather than both light and temperature, as their on/off switch…the weather will of course warm soon, so any effects are quite temporary.

Happy Gardening 🙂