03 March 2013


A Japanese deer scarer and spring in Ireland - what could the connection be? Well it's just that every year I notice that the much-anticipated, badly-needed arrival of spring seems to come slowly, slowly, slowly ... and then, whoosh, it tips over: suddenly the crab apple trees have unfurled their bright green leaves; suddenly there are more and more yellow-nodding daffodils along the nearby stream or on the roadside verges; suddenly the blossoms are out on the Purple-Leaf Plum on our road; suddenly the sunshine is warm, the neighbours are out in their gardens, the bittercress weeds are back ... And it struck me today that it's like the water trickling gently into the pipe in the shishi-odoshi: slowly, slowly and then 'whoosh' it tips over and 'DONK' it hits the stone.

Prunus cerasifera, Purple-Leaf plum

I know from previous years that (DONK) before I know it, it'll be the end of April and I'll be wondering how it happened so quickly and how come I didn't get all the garden movings and sowings and plantings done in time.

And that's okay, the tasks I *do* get done will bring great pleasure and anyway, since gardeners are really only stewards or landladies of their space, the residents and tenants will get on with their growing quite nicely thank you without a whole lot of help from me.

Still, I went out to the spring sunshine, leaving behind a tonal study of a walnut (!), and I pruned Blue Moon and Zepherine, I snipped and chopped and raked, I noted the False Spikenard heads starting to emerge along with the bruised-looking first foliage of the Bleeding Hearts. I gave the first dilute seaweed feed to some of the alpines and other plants in the greenhouse and I noticed that the Enkianthus buds are swelling and there's frog spawn now in the bigger pool too. All in all I enjoyed just being in the garden.

Trying to draw a walnut ...

I enjoyed too being in the Botanic Gardens this week - Friday sunshine and catching up with a friend meant a walk in the Bots, checking out the masses of crocuses under the still bare trees and seeing what an old-fashioned, well looked after lean-to glasshouse can be: nectarines and peach trees espaliered on the wall, all sorts of herbs and leafy crops up early and bursting with vitality.

Crocuses, looking lovely in the right setting

Greenhouse in the Herb Garden in the National Botanic Gardens
Of course as well as all that activity, there was the necessary tending to other parts of my life. Commutes (on a bicycle) to the day-job allow all sorts of things to come into view, including this beautiful camellia, seen in the city centre.  I include a glimpse of Georgian Dublin for those readers who don't live here, and a close-up of the camellia blossom for any botanical artists who might stop by.

Camellia blossoms in Georgian Dublin

Camellia, up close and personal
Family duties have, in a roundabout way, led to my taking ownership (at least for a while) of an orchid that my mum has looked after for years: her tending it involved mainly dousing it with the dregs of her teacup every day. The orchid has thrived. I only hope I can do as well!

Orchids move in for a while
I started out on a Japanese theme and I'll finish with what I hope might be an echo of Japanese sensibility, a beautiful pine tree in the Botanics:

Pinus sp. in the National Botanic Gardens
 Have a good week all.


  1. Hiya

    I love your walnut studies; especially the one where you've been really brave with the darks. Gorgeous photos too, and really interesting blog.

  2. Many thanks Lizzie! Lots to learn on the drawing front, lots to observe in the garden and elsewhere - all hugely enjoyable.

  3. Deb Montgomerie05 March, 2013

    I love this site Erica. Your spirit shines through. Thanks for sharing the lovely photos & drawings. Deb

  4. Thanks so much Deb! Looking forward to seeing many more of your drawings and notes.