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Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Late February flowers

Amazing changes have happened in the garden during the last week! I felt like I blinked and suddenly spring had arrived. I saw my first butterfly (a male Brimstone) on 20th February and the same morning whilst it was still dark I heard a familiar bird song - yup, the blackbirds have started singing. Outdoors the birds have become very noisy and I can recognise Chaffinches, Song Thrushes and Blackbirds singing. Not long now and I expect our Chiff Chaffs will be back. I also started seeing bumble bees and the occasional buzz was a nice surprise.

Of course I'm still in winter mode and it's hard that spring has arrived so early when those of us who have had a really wet winter are struggling to get our garden jobs done, due to the wetness of the soil (and often, pouring rain!). My OH has thankfully taken over in the veg patch and has already got one of my 5 plots dug over and ready to rock and roll. I'm concentrating on flower beds which are full of dead stalks, moss and weeds. I've also managed to prune all the roses and we've between us pruned the three pear trees and the three best eating apples. I think the other apple trees will get forgotten this year - there is just no time.

I've still got another 10 days of my photography course to go which has also accounted for far less free time to spend in my garden! But yesterday I got my macro lens out (it's not being used very much for my course) and got pics of the flowers that are currently blooming. Daffodils are not quite out yet but another couple of days and they should be.

Japonica or Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles). What's unusual this year is that the one by
the pond is very behind this one in the garden, and it's usually the other way around!

Pulmonaria, commonly known as Lungwort.

I have quite a lot of Pulmonaria around the garden as it self seeds everywhere!

Pulmonaria again - so pretty with both blue and pink flowers together.

Hazel catkins were flowering a month early in January out in
the open areas, but my wiggly Hazel (Corylus avellana 'Contorta')
is in a semi shady frost pocket so is always behind.

Hellebores again. Now this plant is producing
paler coloured flowers as well as the dark ones!

This is another one with a paler pink one in the background.
They also self seed like weeds!

I was totally amazed to discover a Cowslip already flowering.
I thought these flowered much later in the spring!
A neighbour gave them to me so I am not sure of the exact species
but assume they are Primula veris, the common Cowslip.

This is too early, but my bright pink coloured Rhododendron
does have occasional buds early in the year.

And I only noticed that my Pieris japonica was flowering on Monday.
In fact some of the flowers are already going over!

The rest of the pictures are of various Euphorbias. I absolutely adore these plants as they are such good value from late winter through the spring and will give months of interest. Their flowers, or bracts, are such a bright zingy lime green it's just what I need after the gloom of winter. And they self seed too - like crazy!

This is my original Euphorbia Characias subsp. Wulfenii which has
already been looking good for a couple of weeks.

And this is one of its babies which is not as advanced yet.

Euphorbia Characias subsp. Wulfenii already attracting a tiny fly.

And here it is yet again, self seeded in a little gap beween
house wall and the steps up to the garage, with
low growing Euphorbia myrsinities above (also self seeded).

A self seeded wild one, probably Euphorbia amygdaloides, the Wood Spurge.

Another tall one similar to Wulfenii, but seeing those red bits inside the bracts makes me happy as this is most likely originally from my beloved Euphorbia martinii which died.

Next time I post I'll have daffodils blooming and already the forsythia has some flowers on. We now have to eat PSB (Purple Sprouting Broccoli) until we're sick of it as they are all sprouting like crazy, and I've got a load of winter veg to get through, like leeks and parsnips, because it's time to get the veg patch ready for the new growing season!


  1. Great set Mandy. Makes me wonder why I live so far north. But then I look around and realise I like it up here despite the late spring.

    We have one primrose/primula flowering, a bunch of crocus buds which will be out in a few days and hundreds of snowdrops. Daffies are coming up but flowers a long way away unless it get much warmer very quickly. The jasmine is actually still flowering but it is a bit ravaged by the weather.

    1. Cheers Nick. My snowdrops are going over now. But it's not very advanced here as I see daffies out in other places not far away, but this area around my hamlet is always behind other places. In Somerset daffies flower from about December I am told!
      You still have signs of spring so just enjoy! :-)

  2. Beautiful beautiful photos, your close ups are so clear... Have been listening out for a Chiffchaff at the park.. nothing yet. Found some Speedwell flowering to this little flower

    1. Thanks Amanda! Not sure where in the UK you are. I've had speedwell and lamium flowering all winter long (as weeds) in my veg patch. Shows how mild it has been here!

  3. Gorgeous photos! What I noticed most, though, was attention to bokeh in each one! Well done :-)
    Spring has sprung here too....almost 3 weeks early and it appears we might escape our usual Feb frost. Hope so. I went around my property yesterday and documented most of the flowering plants (using my smartphone). They are beautiful but desert flowers are teeny tiny compared to yours :-)

    1. Hi Marianne and thank you. Well with flowers you don't need to get right up close and have the dof you need for bugs, so you can play with wide apertures and get nice bokeh. No I wasn't taught that stuff on my course, just the technical stuff, but I had figured that out for myself a long time ago! I just didn't know a thing about the exposure triangle. :-) Now happily clicking away in manual mode and have got used to using my 28-80mm lens, which I like a lot and so the weight of my macro lens comes as a shock!

      I looked at your beautiful flower collage. They are gorgeous! A lot these early flowers are small, the pulmonaria in particular. Big blowsy ones will come later. :-) Hope you don't get any frost but have you had any rain?

    2. Glorious rain today and tomorrow! What little bit coming up in the desert will be slurping it up :-)

  4. Ironing is finished, so here I am! I certainly am NOT bored like hell with your gorgeous images, Mandy! That is because they are eye candy ;-)) It is indeed peculiar how the years differ so much : last year we had a real long winter and it must feel guilty having overstayed its welcome, clearing the way for early spring! Had a nice day in Belgium too, but didn't have the chance to go out much. And our garden is so dull there's nothing much interesting to see. I'm always in awe of you people juggling with plant and flower names! And yes, you always knew to include a good sharp subject in the right place against a wonderful bokeh background, and using blurred repetitions of the main subject to make photos more interesting was not strange to you as well. This should suffice to make you realise I like the pictures here very much, Mandy!
    I'm Euphorbius about them, let's have a martinii together on the bench at the pond, Mrs. Moorhen!
    Love that baby shot in particular, and your Cowslip : that background is like fireworks!
    Love your pink and blue lungs as well, Madame! Merci, mon amie pour ces merveilles ;-))
    And to end, this shot at a joke derived from one of your captions on the pictures :
    "Who is Hazel and what has she done that you call her a tart?"
    (torta = Italian for cake..)

    1. Hello my dear Jan, sorry for the late reply. I've also just amended a huge typo which my hubby has just pointed out..... the last lot of photos were Euphorbias, not Hellebores!

      Last year it seemed like spring started early enough but then it never got going, did it? The plant names I know but I do often have to google for the spellings or because my brain goes blank! Re the bokeh you have been reading what I wrote to Marianne! Can you believe today I took my camera out and took about 6 shots before I realised the lens was switched to manual focus and I hadn't even noticed and was snapping away merrily.... dear oh dear. Nice blurry shots, lol!

      You really are the king of the punsters! Thanks for a good laugh. :-) And thanks for your very nice compliments. Right back to my homework..... I'm now trying out Lightroom, aaarrrrgh!!!

    2. I'm still satisfied with aperture mode and over- or underexposing to my liking ;-)
      Lightroom eh? Lately I've watched some video's by an enthusiastic French, Parisian photographer called Serge Ramelli, OK , he tries to sell his stuff tto , which is normal, but the free tutorials are a good start, and fun to watch imo! Credits for pointing him out go to Gittan Beheydt, someone I "met" on G+, she lives nearby, just the other "commune" to ours!
      Bye, Mandy!

    3. That Serge Ramelli is also on G+ (of course), and I just noticed that Florian M. wrote a comment on 18 Jan :-))

    4. Jeez he is selling training tutorials for LR! How cheeky. They are available on Adobe for free! Probably plenty on Youtube and I imagine written ones too - haven't had time to look. I have not got to the processing side, that can wait. It's a huge program that needs learning about importing and exporting photos first!

      Your photos are great and I never knew how you took them (i.e. which mode). I always assume everyone else knows more than me. :-)

      Have a great Friday, Jan!

    5. Stupid me, haven't thought of checking the Adobe site for tutorials yet :-))
      Thanks for your lovely compliment, my dear friend, I really appreciate your opinion - and your photographs, wit, personality etc etc ;-)

  5. Loads of video tutorials on Adobe products including Lightroom and Photoshop here:
    I'm about to watch another one and I'm going to learn if it kills me. :-)
    Take care Jan, have a good Sunday! :-)

    1. Ah, thanks very much, Mandy! Hope to find some time to watch a few this week as well, but it's been a busy weekend and first day of the week! Wishing you a fine learning week, my friend, but if you kill yourself, I will get cross, you hear!