Thursday, March 1, 2018

Sun Then Snow . . .

Though last week has been cold, I couldn't resist getting bundled up and strolling through the garden. The daffodils waved hello. How can they flaunt such exuberance? It's because last season their leaves were allowed to rot in place so as to nourish the underground bulb which became this out-of-sight powerhouse waiting to generate what we are seeing now: ornate lanterns requiring no light to shine.

Sweet violets are superb ground covers because they are evergreen shade-lovers, have fragrant late-winter flowers that can be candied, and spread readily through ballistic seed dispersal (click here to see it happening) plus myrmecochory (foraging worker ants carry the seeds back to the colony). To maximise flower visibility as the vigorous foliage can obscure the flowers, in late summer I take a line-trimmer to the beds and mow them down to a couple of inches above the ground.

Overwintered blue tansy (Phacelia tanacetifolia) cover crop has done its soil protection job well. Soon it will be cut down and forked in so it can do its soil enrichment task also.

Once ivy reaches the end of its vertical support, it morphs into a robust bush that bears fruit which nourishes birds throughout winter. There's lots of ivy chez nous. Some grows up the pergola's pillars onto its roof. There has been this one starling who I have been observing from my office. She flits in and out of the ivy, plucking and swallowing berries in a flash. Once I witnessed her indulging in a fast food feast consisting of ten berries which she ate in a New York minute.

What beverage to go with that dish of ivy berries, my dear starling? Water, preferably of the liquid kind, please. Freezing temperatures the last few days mean that ice is slipped out of the birdbaths so they can be filled with fresh water.

The daffodils and heather cheer me up each and every time I peek out my office window.

Just before the temperature dropped even further, Dirac the Cat, with the aid of fedar (feline radar set for profiting from anything) popped out to relish sunny warmth before . . .

. . . snowflakes came floating down . . .

. . . and kept coming down . . .

. . . until all was leaden grey, but with the dreariness made less by white fluff. By that time, we were inside; Dirac the Cat was munching a treat and I was sipping something gloriously hot.

À la prochaine!

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