14 January 2012

Winter Bee and Uisneach

January has settled in. Gardening columnists in the newspapers have moved on from winter scent to mulling over seed catalogues -- doing what so many gardeners do so well: looking forward. When you plant bulbs in the autumn, you're already imagining those narcissi/scillas/irises/tulips come spring and early summer. I don't do the seed catalogue thing yet, but may have to soon: I'm helping a friend out with her allotment this year so I'll have to get my thinking cap on about what to grow. Allotments are HUGE! Their size seems to be based on the notion that they're tended by someone with lots of time and lots of mouths to feed... But many allotment holders are working at least fulltime and probably don't have families of six or more to feed. Anyway, all of that is for another time.

Winter bee and Hellebore
Mid-January in my garden is a pretty sparse time; this year I'm impatiently waiting for the witch hazel that I planted last spring to do its thing -- there's one hint of yellow starting to show and I'm hoping that this time next week I'll have more to say. I'm a bit excited, to be honest. The thought of the brightness of it and the scent... can't wait. And in spite of the depradations of a small dog, there are bulbs coming up (see above re. gardeners planning for the future). Of course if I were an organised gardener, I'd have a list of what I planted... but I'm not and I don't. I do recognise some Iris reticulata coming through underneath the witch hazel, and their deep purply blue should provide a lovely contrast to the yellow tissue-paper flowers on the tree.

Meanwhile, back to the only show of colour at the moment: a winter pot I planted up before the end of last year: this was easy to do and inexpensive, just two types of Skimmia, one Hellebore, and one Gaultheria. It's possible to get gorgeous red berries without having holly (which I love, but its place is in hedgerows or large gardens, not squished into a pot). I have 'posh' hellebores in the garden itself--some of which will be in bloom shortly--and I love their subtle colours: greens and purples, but the pure white of this one looks good alongside the dark greens and reds of  its companions in the pot. And the bee wasn't complaining: the blossoms provided sustenance on what was a cold (about 4C) but sunny day. Beside the pot is a basket very kindly given to me by my next-door neighbour, nicely planted with cyclamens (white and red - and she hadn't even seen my pot, what a nice coincidence!), some primulas and a small-leaved trailing ivy. Thanks CC.

Twisted Hazel
Uisneach silhouette
Finally for this week, a return to silhouettes: this twisted hazel was showing nicely against the evening sky here in the Dublin 'burbs yesterday evening. And while I was taking this photo, a friend in the midlands was taking the other one, complete with feathered wildlife, in the midlands, near Uisneach (next to Tara, one of the most important ancient sites in Ireland, by virtue of its height on the central plains: went to a Bealtaine festival there once or twice, and it's a spine-tingly thing to stand up there near a huge bonfire and see other fires lit on other high spots across the countryside). Thanks for the lovely photo DW: nice that we were both out enjoying the 'grand stretch' at the same time.

Gothic oak
This last one is an oak (I think) from the Dargle valley, looking suitably wintry and gothic I think...

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