Can there be anything more cheerful in winter. Hyacinths, planted in October and grown in the dark, now brought out into the light. Roots climbing out of the pots. Emerald green flower spikes. The promise of flowers- and scent- at a time when we need promise. I potter about all day in the sunshine, planting bulbs, poking about in plant pots, looking for life. I find snowdrops. The tiny white flowers, tight closed. But soon they will be lighting up the garden.
In the greenhouse, the miniature iris bulbs are through. I’m growing Iris reticulata Harmony, a lovely deep inky blue; Katherine Hodgkin, pale blue, and a new variety, Katherine’s Gold, a sport which is a pretty pale yellow form.
These pots will be placed on garden tables in spring, but for now, they’ll stay protected in the greenhouse. Mice are very partial to bulbs.
All jobs completed- pots tidied for recycling, and a few leaves raked into piles to be turned into leafmould- I set off for my daily walk out though the top gate and along the hedgerow path.
Oak trees and hedgerows are almost bare now. A chance to enjoy the beautiful intricate structure of branches. Hidden views are revealed, and if we are lucky, we see a barn owl, hunting in the late afternoon as food becomes scarce.
Just a few crab apples remain on trees. Blackbirds and mice have had a feast this year. It’s been a record harvest.
I find a patch of oak leaves turning a glorious gold. But why haven’t the winter gales blown the leaves across the field, like the rest of them.
Looking closely, I find leaf galls on the undersides of the leaves. They are types of Oak Spangle galls. I wonder if they can somehow manipulate the chemical composition of the leaf to delay senescence. I have seen tiny insects, mine caterpillars, do this in my beech leaves. There are so many mysteries, so much more to learn. Who knows if this will be useful to humans in some way in the future.
On my beech tree leaves, a tiny green oasis remains. Evidence of tunnelling by the moth larvae of Stigmella tityrella. Have you ever noticed these on your trees before?
I find a hazel leaf cozily wrapped around a twig. I gently peep inside. Who could resist? A tiny cluster of ladybirds are snuggled at the base. I carefully fold the leaf back and hope they stay safe and sound until spring.
Turning back, the sun is starting to set. I can see our trees in the distance. A blackbird sings in the hedge. It sounds so loud on a still afternoon when there’s no one else around to hear it. Just me. It will be dark soon, so I hurry across the fields. Suddenly it feels cold. How quickly a sunny day can turn to dusk. Luckily I know the path well and could find the way with my eyes closed. Which is just as well, as it’s pitch black by the time I reach home.
Thank you for reading. Please feel free to share my blog and help me spread the word. Are you managing to get any gardening done at the moment. Get in touch and let me know.
Links: More than Six on Saturday https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2019/12/07/six-on-saturday-07-12-2019/
Stigmella tityrella :http://www.leafmines.co.uk/html/Lepidoptera/S.tityrella.htm