I obviously hope you enjoy browsing through the postings on here - do feel free to leave comments as it's always good to see who's visiting and to hear about other people's experiences - after all you never stop learning do you?

If you've any gardening questions or you live in Brittany and are looking for some gardening help - be it design work, planting or general gardening or you simply would like some advice, please don't hesitate to CONTACT ME or call me on 0033 661 77 23 89 (from UK) or 0661 77 23 89 (from France).

Happy gardening!

Monday, 8 February 2010

Spring surprises...

Over this last weekend the weather in Northern Brittany, France has been relatively mild in comparisson to the last number of weeks so I was able to get out into our own garden to do some of the many jobs needing doing at this time of year - I use the word relatively, meaning that it wasn't literally freezing!!  Today however is a different situation altogether and we're back to very cold all over again :-(  
To try and keep everyone in a positive frame of mind thinking of all the beautiful plants that will be coming out over the coming months, I thought I'd try and do a montage of photos to show you how things are coming along here....  As you'll see our Hellebores have really come on over the last week as have the Snowdrops or as they are called in France Perce Neige  - literally meaning to "pierce the snow"!  Other plants which seem to be doing well is the large deep red Camelia which we inherited with the house, buds coming on well on our Flowering Currants which I grew on from cuttings a few years ago now (easy to do!), little leaves already showing on Geranium renardii and even the little Cyclamen Coum are out as well.

I thought it was also worth taking note of the plants providing foilage at this time of year - it's very easy concentrating on plants that look pretty in the summer, but it is nice to start seeing some green or other textures and colours before that - going from top left to right - firstly is are the feathery leaves of the Geum - an absoute must in mind for a border. The next are the leaves of Hesperis matronalis - (Sweet rocket or Dame's Violet) which is a fantastic perennial with the most amazing smell - a real favorite of the little Orange Tip butterfly and provides essential food for the caterpillar too! Top right are the leaves of White Campanula which are wonderful again in the summer providing flowers over a long period of time and are prolific self-seeders too - thus providing plenty of plants to dig up to give to your friends!  Bottom left are the beginnings of the beautiful deep orange Hemerocallis or Day Lillies - I was surpised to see the foilage this far on considering the low temperatures we've had!  Next is another shrub Mahonia aquifoloim we inherited - it has pretty bronze evergreen slightly spikey leaves at this time of year and produces lightly fragrant yellow flowers which are still in bud but they won't be long in coming out now. Finally bottom right are the leaves of the wonderful Papaver orientale - Oriental Poppies - the leaves appear again in the late summer/autumn after the flowers and old foliage have died off - and stay all winter long and right through till after flowering in early summer.

The Hazel catkins have come on loads since the photos I took of these in my previous posting - they look so pretty.
This was one that caught my eye as I was wandering around the garden ... all on it's lonesome!
This female Goldfinch is definately "Queen of the Castle" perched high above the Robin who doesn't really seem "bovvered!"Another regular visitor to the fat blocks is our Great Spotted Woodpecker - managed to get a closer shot whilst he wasn't looking.

The Rosa rugosa's were also showing signs of life - another favorite of mine and the also provide essential food for wildlife from the wonderful hips in the late summer.
It's worth taking a look under the leaves of your Hellebores as when you take a closer look you may be in for a surprise of loads of baby seedlings... I tend to dig these up and pot them on in the greenhouse at this time of year to give them more room to grow on and they make great plants to swap at our late spring plant swap which is coming up in March.
Another shrub I wouldn't be without at this time of year for it's perfume is the lovely Winter flowering Honeysuckle - if pruned well it can make a wonderful nesting site for blackbirds and thrushes.
Finally for today's posting I've done a montage of the various veggies we've got in the garden right now...they've done really well in tall the cold weather too - top left to right - firstly is a real favorite is Purple Sprouting Broccoli - worth growing quite a few of these in the spring as many get eaten by hungry caterpillars... but many don't!! In the middle is our Parsley - I'd great plans last year to grow it from seed but discovered loads of seedlings which had sprouted in our homeade compost and this is the result - one year on.  Rhubarb coming on well and then bottom left is another favorite Chard "Bright Lights" which not only really brightens up the veg patch at any time of year tastes delicious raw in a salad or cooked much like spinach is delicious with a bit of melted butter.  Lastly is a Mustard greens - Raggedy Jack which were kindly passed onto me from a friend here as seedlings - they died of at the end of the autumn and have come back again... they certainly spice up a salad and also good in a stirfry too!

This brings tonights posting to an end - hope you all have a good week and will be back with more news from our garden in the next few days...


The Galloping Gardener said...

These are just the most wonderful pictures and I love the header too!

Chris said...

Hi Miranda. It is surprising how many plants are waking up already in our garden too! We have so much to look forward to :-)

Layanee said...

We are facing another snow storm so the sight of your emerging vegetables gives hope that spring is on its' way to New England.

Gail said...

Congrats on spring arriving early...I am just the tiniest bit jealous. But so glad you are having a glorious time in the garden.


debsgarden said...

It's great to see the signs of spring emerging! I love your snowdrops. Since we seem to many similar plants, I think I will try geum and dames rocket in my garden as well. Thanks for this post - the woodpecker is a handsome fellow!

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Everything looks good, but I am amazed by veggies and herbs - what survivers they are!

Miranda Bell said...

Hi Charlotte - thanks for your visit - are you back from your travels now? Hope all's going well.

Hi Chris - you're right - it's a great time of year for surprises with many more on their way too... how's the frogspawn getting on?

Hi Layanee - thanks for visiting and sorry to hear about your weather - it's been quite a tough winter for everyone - do hope your veggies come along soon!

Thanks Gail - I'm sure springtime will arrive all too soon in your garden - it seems like your Peahen is keeping you entertained in the meantime!!

Debbie - thankyou for popping over again - both the Geums and Sweet Rocket are wonderful - the Rocket I grew from seed - you could try this link if you can't find it near you http://www.chilternseeds.co.uk/chilternseeds/moreinfo/d/hesperis+matronalis+purple+violet/pid/31511054 - hope this helps!

Hi Tatyana - a warm welcome to my blog as I think this is your first visit... the veggies have been amazing considering what they've had to survive!

Thanks to all for visiting and hope you all enjoy the rest of your week ... Miranda x

Rosie (Leaves n Bloom) said...

Hi Miranda

I see you grow one of my favourites - Hesperis - this is wonderful isn't it and the scent is amazing. You're still a good few weeks ahead of me in my spring planting but its just great to see all the fresh buds appearing.

Geranium Renadii is one plant on my lists of must haves this year - I just love its foliage. My cyclamen coum is out in flower too just now - but very little herbaceous leaves are showing through the soil.

We have a great spotted woodpecker in our area - maybe I need some suet blocks to encourage it across the road from my neighbours garden to mine.

Sienna B said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Miranda Bell said...

Hi Rosie - thanks for popping over - I just love Hesperis too - both the purple and white ones... once you've got them they're quite good at self seeding!

On the woodpecker front up until last year we'd never had a woodie feeding from the bird table and since then he comes back and forth on a reasonably regular basis - he came with wife and 2 young last year which was fab. We also have Green Woodies too and I also spotted a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker for the 2nd time only last week (no camera at the ready!). As for food for the woodies - fat blocks or peanuts seem to be what they like - I've also seen ours on the coconut halves as well... worth a try!

Deborah at Kilbourne Grove said...

Miranda, I am thrilled to see to pictures of your garden "waking up". There is still so much snow in my garden in Canada, I feel like it well never happen. Luckily I will get two springs, through garden blogs as yours, and when it finally happens in real life.

BrittanyGirl said...

Hello Miranda

Love the photography of the woodpecker - so close. How lovely that he feeds from the fat block. I put one out here yesterday, but no birds seem to have discovered it yet.