29 March 2014

Of lambs and lions

Oh, March! That old adage about lambs and lions springs to mind. March hasn't been able to decide between the two. We had days warm enough to make us set the table back up so we could sit and enjoy hot chocolate in the garden, turning our faces to the warm spring sunshine like some photosynthetic beings... Mornings where my entrance into the local park was through a pool of scent from the berberis hedge alongside the path... We had sun opening the blossoms on the street trees, and mist cloaking the park in mystery; heavy rain and winds breaking more branches off the trees, and then hail, and then frosts. Lambs and lions, mist and sunshine, rain and frost. March has been a month for thinking in pairs, in opposites.

Grey mist and bright blossom

March morning mist

Pencils and paper

I got very little drawing done this month. Life was busy with other things. I didn't get any entry done for my non-travelling Nature trails sketchbook, but I hope to make amends this coming month. I did have a go at re-doing my mossy old yew twig though - I've turned it around (I think, since I'm a citeog--that's a left-handed person for those of you who aren't Irish--I like things coming from right to left on the page) and will add a tiny graphite drawing of the mighty Crom yew to the page as well as some berries, for what would a yew drawing be without some berries? That's the plan anyway; we'll see what happens. I'm still working away with coloured pencils and to help myself along, I've bought a copy of Ann Swan's book which others have recommended it to me. Looking forward to learning from it!

Hmm, what else do I need for this drawing?
The turned twig

Woods and walks

We haven't been venturing out too much or too far, but local woods have provided lovely walks for us and excited runs for one small schnauzer. Spring is working its way into the woods, starting as always on the forest floor, where the wild garlic is cloaking the wood in pungent green, and showing up too in the busyness of squirrels and the industry of nest-building birds. Every morning walk I make during the week is through a wonderful raucous ruckus of wren and blackbird and mistle thrush and finch and robin ...

Safe from an excited schnauzer
Horse-chestnut buds are always the first to open

Sunshine and shadows in Knocksink wood

Spring stream in Massey wood

catchlight: Catching the sunlight on a wood anemone

In and out

Work has started in the garden! I've been cleaning the greenhouse - algae off the roof glass to let more of that precious spring sunshine in; and webs and general mess from the inside. Most, though not all, of my tiny collection of alpines have come back to life, and I'm now watching three different Drabas to see how and when the flowers will bloom (I can report that Draba 'John Saxton' is first out of the blocks and it's a tie at the moment between Draba longisiliqua and Draba 'Buttermilk' for second place). My Silene acaulis gave up the ghost completely, and an Androsace laevigata is touch and go. It's a tricky thing, this alpine growing and I'm still not sure if I'm up to it! The AGS Dublin local show was on in early March and was a chance to see how others do with growing alpines. As ever I came away with a mixed sense of inspiration and despair ("ooh I'd love to grow that/ooh I'll never be able to grow that").

Dionysia 'Monika'  - something to aspire to
Fritallaria aurea - loved this
In other parts of the garden I've been on a bit of a clearing out frenzy - and still amazed at how much waste material one very small garden can generate. In amongst that waste was a pile of Carex pendula that had outgrown its spot by the pool. A more 'refined' and much smaller sedge has gone into its place, rescued from a winter container display that now awaits re-doing into a late spring pot of some sort. In the front garden an Epimedium that has served its time (many years now) was taken out, split and shared with other gardeners, and a Daphne bholua 'Jacqueline Postil' has gone in its place. I was bowled over by the scent of this daphne on recent visits to the homes of two very experienced and skilful gardeners. I decided I had to give it a go, so it was spade and out and fingers crossed, though not at the same time.

Daphne bholua 'Jacqueline Postil', getting ready for the big move

Untouched: Trillium rivale in the front garden

Twenty one

The twenty-one project is still on the go. I thought since it's equinox this month that I'd remind myself how things looked at winter solstice. The plants haven't changed too much, but the light certainly has...

The field - Winter Solstice (top) and Spring Equinox

Entering the park - Winter Solstice (top) and Spring Equinox

Oak trees in the park - Winter Solstice (top) and Spring Equinox

Sycamores (and a schnauzer) in the park - Winter Solstice (top) and Spring Equinox

Coming home to the garden - Winter Solstice (top) and Spring Equinox

The pool - Winter Solstice (top) and Spring Equinox; note the disappearance of the unwieldy Carex pendula
Go well all. 


  1. Wonderful post Erica,I love your yew aswell. It's great that it's spring again xx

    1. Thanks Claire. Spring seems more welcome than ever this year - it has been a dark winter.

  2. Beautiful! There is a season for everything...

    1. ...through a scented pool of berberis... excellent - vintage Ms. Cinerea. SOT

    2. There is, Mary; I'm just delighted that Spring is here at last! S, glad you enjoyed the berberis.

  3. Great to read your blog as always, and nice to see your yew back in action! You have been busy!

    1. Wish I'd been busier with the drawing, but maybe next month will be better ...

  4. Lovely story you're telling here and I love the pooch at the end taking a sip of water! Good luck with your spring dreams!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Carole. That pooch rules the roost! Here's to spring dreaming for all of us.