A few Spring flowers …

All the gardens around here abound with bluebells – the rather fat and fleshy ones, known as ‘Spanish’ bluebells rather than the more elegant, woodland type. It would be interesting to know the history behind this, as my neighbours complain about the fact that however many of these bluebells you pull up, they return in force the following Spring. Because they are so luxuriant and strong they look marvellous for about three weeks and then comes the task of putting all the spent stalks and the largesse of leaves into the green bin, so that other plants can thrive.
Southernwood, sage, sweet cicely and Spanish bluebells ...Southernwood, sage, sweet cicely and Spanish bluebells …

Besides the daffodils, narcissi and other spring flowers in their various shades of yellow, cream and white, there is the ‘wire netting’ bush – a native of New Zealand – so called because its tiny crooked, zig zag twigs look like wire netting, studded with tiny, star like, scented flowers in late Spring. This is ‘corkia cotoneaster’. It is very hardy and only needs the occasional trim to stop it looking ragged.
Faithful and hardy perennials ...Faithful and hardy perennials …

I found a jewel like, blue cineraria. Some of the plants in this family prefer to be indoors but most of these I find just too frilly and fussy and overblown, reminding me of ‘mutton dressed as lamb’. This more simple style, yet intense in its blueness, is happy in the garden. I put it in next to a ‘rosa rugosa’ – a wild rose – and you can also see the deep crimson paeonies about to bloom. These plants were in the garden when we came here and must be forty years old. I would like a lipstick in this shade. They seem to do better than ever with each passing year. I would like to be like that too! The lacy green fronds of the sweet cicely make a perfect backdrop to their opulent crimson beauty. And they seem to be impervious to slugs and snails. Maybe they hold some secret re happy longevity!
There are also quite a lot of bees around of all sizes and different colourings. I don’t use any insecticides and this is especially to create a safe haven for bees and other insects to flourish. That doesn’t mean I am kind to them all. I hunt down mosquitoes relentlessly and there is a dark gold green beetle the size of a ladybird, which attacks lavender. ‘Tis pretty but deadly. The gorgeous looking red lily beetle also needs a quick sharp squashing should you want to enjoy your lily blooms. Keep an eye out for vine weevils and the robin, thrush and blackbird will appreciate a few squashed slugs and snails underfoot. No good being too sentimental in the garden… I have also made the mistake of trying to cram too many plants in together. Plants need space as well as sun and rain to do their best.
Blue, darkly, deeply, beautifully blue ... (Madoc) by Robert Southey (1774-1843)Blue, darkly, deeply, beautifully blue … (Madoc) by Robert Southey (1774-1843)

‘It is not Spring until you can plant your foot upon twelve daisies’ – mid nineteenth century proverb. It wasn’t until the 28th April, when we arrived at Bellagio on Lake Como, that I was able to do this. And here, the mists over the lake were beginning to be chased away already by the heat of the sun.

‘But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flow’r, its bloom is shed,
Or like the snow falls in the river,
A moment white – then melts for ever’.

‘Tam o’Shanter’ (1791) by Robert Burns

But the seasons return – and the pleasures with them – may they long continue to do so …


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