Spring fashions

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Last weekend the trees around us suddenly dressed themselves in their new finery. Our exposed situation means that it’s mainly hardy natives that grow well. And while some cheeky chaps from other parts of the world survive, and bloom and come into leaf earlier, the natives know best and hold their finery until fairly certain that harsh frosts won’t blast their tender shoots. So last weekend in our part of the Scottish Borders they decided to put on a display, like models showing off the latest fashions, and this afternoon they looked very cheerful in the sun, although like much of spring so far the breeze is chilly.

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The beech tree at the bottom of the garden – a wonderful, mature tree showing off its new spring finery.

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The beech tree’s breaking buds are like colourful pink and green birds sitting on the branches against the surprising blue of the sky.

Our garden used to be a field, so quite a number of trees had to be felled before we could do much to it. Even now, it’s very much a country garden where plants roam and ramble, nudging neighbours and trampling on the toes of those growing too big for their allotted space.

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White heather for luck amidst an assortment of green leaves of euonymus and primulas.

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Kerria Japonica likes the warmth and protection of the house wall where its yellow pompoms run riot

We can never become too precious about any plants, as they are liable to be munched by roe deer or rabbits or undermined by moles. The pigeons feast on seeds and delight in uprooting seedlings, and a neighbour’s pheasants and partridges often strut across the grass and flowerbeds, straight through whatever plant is my pride and joy at that time. Cats and dogs abound. We’ve even had sheep visiting. Well, it’s the countryside!

In winter north winds howl through crannies in the old stonework of the house, finding their way into bathrooms to chill you as you step from

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An early flowering white clematis likes its sheltered spot by the house wall.

a warm bath, and sending eddies of icy air around you as you sleep.

But in the garden it’s often the east winds of spring that cause most damage. Whereas branches and plants cowed by snow usually spring back, the cold easterlies of spring can cut down tender plants that have begun to grow or blossom.

Maybe native plants pay heed to the saying about ne’er casting a clout till May be out. Or perhaps that’s the origin of the saying.

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For a plant whose common name is Love lies bleeding its pink flowers make a cheerful sight on a spring day. 

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Primroses usually grow well here, though we don’t seem to have so many this year. I remember driving along the banks of Loch Fyne in Argyll when the banks at the sides of the road were a mass of bright yellow primroses lighting up the world.

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Bergenia with its spikes of pink flowers and large elephant ears leaves, beside a little pinky rust coloured berberis and the leaves of blue cornflowers, lupins and primroses. 

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Epimedium with its wonderful green and red heart-shaped leaves that add a splash of colour.

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And, of course, bluebells, a reminder of my childhood when I used to play with friends in a bluebell wood near our house.

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A large leaved rhododendron which we brought from Argyll as a seedling. It hasn’t grown much or flowered yet, but we live in hope.

But this afternoon everything looked great with plants running rampant through flowerbeds and new leaves basking in the sun. The brown and grey garb of winter and early spring has fallen away, and splashes of bright colours and patterns adorned everywhere I looked.

And although the snowdrops and daffodils are over, plenty other blooms have taken their place in our country garden.

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This is what garden designers describe as an architectural plant, adding not only great colour but a different shape with its long flopping leaves and sheer mass.

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I found this bunch of pansies. There should be more but, as I say, this is a country garden which has numerous visitors of the animal variety.

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A little clump of colourful daisies hugged the ground.

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A dwarf Russian almond has grown quite tall and lanky as it struggles beside a berberis and a low growing yew for space in a flowerbed by the door.

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About jingsandthings

I am me. What do I like? Colour Shapes Textures Paintings, photographs, sculptures, woven tapestries, wonderful materials. The love of materials probably comes from my father who was a textile buyer, and I grew up hearing the names of mills and manufacturers which sounded magical and enticing. Glass in all its soft and vibrant colours and flowing shapes, even sixties glass which makes its own proud statement. A book I can immerse myself in. Meals with family or friends with lots of chat and laughter (and probably a bottle or two of wine). The occasional trip abroad to experience the sights, sounds, food, conversation, quality of light and warmth of other countries. To revel in differences and be amazed by similarities. I like to create and to experience, to try and to achieve. And then there are words – read, heard, written at my keyboard, or scrawled on sticky notes, or along the edges of dog-eared supermarket receipts excavated from the unexplored nooks of my handbag. What do I dislike? Cold Snow Bad design Fast food Condescension
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2 Responses to Spring fashions

  1. Mama Cormier says:

    I knew you wouldn’t disappoint. What a wonderful collection of photographs from your country garden and your descriptions of the wonderful flora makes me feel like I’m in your garden experiencing everything first hand. I’m glad I inspired you to go out and take photographs today.

    • Thanks, Carol. It’s good to have people who spark ideas when you have been languishing. Often you just need that extra push to get stuck in and do something, and I always feel better for having done it.

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