24 February 2013

A fresh-peeled voice

Oh the mornings are easier now, the fresh-peeled voice of a thrush insistent outside the window, the light seeping into dark bedrooms earlier and earlier. Even the return of winter this weekend (with snow!) hasn't slowed down the march of Spring. The tiny first daffodils in the garden have borne it all with their usual insouciance; the hellebores have carried their icy burdens with their usual grace: heads bowed anyway and subtle colours undimmed.

Daffodils and Dublin snow

Icy hellebore (and a spot-the-schnauzer)

The same icy hellebore, undimmed by the cold

A new hellebore in my garden this year (got it from Mount Venus last year)
This one has a hint of lemon yellow in the real world, but my camera doesn't like yellows

And since the same snow was gone within a day, it was nothing more than a whispered reminder of what those living without the embrace of the Gulf Stream (Montréal, Hamden) have to endure day after day at the moment.

Cold or not, the Spring imperative has hit and today I was in the greenhouse sowing some seeds of Androsace vandellii; I'm a glutton for punishment as they're notoriously tricky, but I'd saved the seeds a while ago so I reckoned I might as well put them in a pot as leave them in the door of the fridge.

But the week gone by has featured more inside than outside plant and garden activity.

Thursday morning in the Bots was the first meeting of the nascent Irish Society of Botanical Artists and some of the class I'm in (and our teacher) went along. Well ... such beautiful work! There were formal illustrations and non-formal paintings, there were tiny images and large canvases; delicate, translucent sweet peas and robust fence posts twined with ivy. There were framed paintings and portfolios and an astonishing artist's notebook, from someone who just today heard that she has been accepted as an Associate Member of the SBA (well done SD)! And above all there were artists (and would-be artists) coming together to share enthusiasm and ideas. There'll be a website soon and I'll be linking to it from here somewhere. Thanks to all for the lovely welcome.

Thursday night I was transported to the cold Kamchatka sea, when the AGS hosted the Czech plant-hunter extraordinaire, Vojtech Holubec, who spoke on ‘Plants and Nature of the Far East – Kamchatka, Sakhalin and Kuriles'. From the woodlands of Sakhalin to the scree slopes and sulphurous craters of the Kamchatka volcanoes, Vojtech brought us on an amazing journey, combining his encyclopaedic knowledge of plants with beautiful photography and a lecture delivered flawlessly in what's probably his fourth language.

Much closer to home I was so pleased and relieved to see that Scilla verna is blooming again in our local park (I use the Latin name as the English name, Squill, sounds like some sort of ghastly sea cucumber doesn't it?). Like the daffs and hellebores it's unfazed by the snow and glows quietly blue, one of the early reminders that Spring is indeed on the way.

And that's where we came in this week, so I'll leave it at that.

Scilla verna

Scilla verna
Have a good week all.


  1. Gorgeous FB and a bright fresh sunny morning to kick off the week! Alan

  2. Thanks Alan. Yes, what a bright morning!

  3. Pretty - love the photography!