Bodnant Gardens, Wales, In Spring Haute Couture

Pink blossom

This year it’s too easy for gardens to be on trend, the Pantone colour of the year being Greenery. Well… yes, I’ll go with that, but if Pantone’s colour trend experts think greenery is the colour for 2017, perhaps they should get out more. Hardly a passing trend, greenery should be named the colour of the millennium (in the hope it might, by some miracle, be the millennium to come, not the one we’ve recently left behind).

Field of daffodils

Bodnant Gardens, where these pictures were taken, had acknowledged the colour of the year with a knowing wink, but decided greenery was just the start. It was a great start – no one could deny that – but the surrounding countryside had got greenery off to a T too. So much so that after finally leaving the North Wales Expressway (an optimistic name on a very sunny Sunday) I found myself winding towards the National Trust garden along Llanrwst Road thinking “This land is such a bright green, it’s almost too much. How will the camera lens cope with this? Are my sunglasses not on?” (they were).  Continue reading

Woodland Plants: Erythronium dens canis

Erythronium dens canis (dog's tooth violet)

This little gem – Erythronium dens canis – grows wild in favoured places across Europe. You might come across them in dappled shade on the edge of UK woods, pushing their way up through leaf litter, but there is probably more chance of finding them in a major garden or a spring plant and bulb catalogue.

Common names include dog’s tooth violet and trout lily. If you were wondering, dog’s tooth refers to the shape of the bulbs (which should be planted pointy side up) and trout to the beautiful, mottled foliage. The leaves look like a trendy, new, mint flavoured chocolate might – thin, of course, to justify the price tag in that inverse way we’ve come to expect; wavy to give the research and development team something to think about; and with a weird ingredient for extra credibility, such as cardamom or Kaffir lime leaves or green tea.  Continue reading

Brent and Becky’s Bulbs: a private tour

Daffodil e

It may seem unseasonal to post pictures of daffodils in the autumn, but far from it: if you live in the northern hemisphere, this is a great time to plant bulbs for flowers next spring. Meanwhile, the gardens of my Australian blogging buddies seem to be full of life all of a sudden, so I imagine it’s daffodil season there.

Either way, I’d only need the flimsiest of excuses to belatedly share pictures from our visit to Brent and Becky Heath, including some taken in their private garden, trial grounds and growing fields. I’m not a daffodil expert so please don’t ask me for their names!

The Bulb Shoppe

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A fine reward: Trillium recurvatum

Trillium recurvatum

If you follow my blog, you’ll be aware of my weakness for shade plants. I don’t mind at all that their flowers are rarely flashy: demure beauty is fine by me.

I’m from a part of the world (Lancashire, England) where wandering in the woods – I was going to say ‘is a commonplace experience’, but nature rarely offers that, so far as I’m concerned, so I’ll make myself clearer. At home, we walk in the woods for pleasure, exercise, fresh air, to enjoy the season: it doesn’t normally involve risking many dangers.

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Weekly photo challenge: dawn daffodils

Daffodils at dawn

It was suggested that the most appropriate image for this week’s photo challenge: early bird would be a shot of the tousled hair I’m sorrowfully sporting most mornings when I awake, but I decided to spare you that.

Instead, here are some rain-soaked daffodils: a lovely cultivar I haven’t seen before with flowers in soft shades of cream and white. I was so excited to have the chance to enjoy a behind-the-scenes visit to this historic bulb nursery when the plants were at the peak of flowering that I was hopping amongst the daffodils before the sun had fully risen. Continue reading

Weekly photo challenge: bluebell blur

Bluebell meadow

Bluebells. For me, they’re a sign of home. My tiny garden is so full of the sturdy, Spanish ones that I can’t plant anything else without digging a few up, no matter how careful I try to be.

We stumbled upon these ones growing wild on Darwen moor, not far from Sunnyhurst Woods, on our way to the Jubilee Tower last spring. A field of bluebells is enough to stop even the most experienced of ramblers in their tracks. It makes me happy to think that this year’s flowers aren’t far away now. Continue reading