|Friko's Manor end-on|
|The River from the Bridge by the Ford|
Stepping down the bank from the garden I can see the river shivering in its bed, mirroring the slate-grey cloud. Reflections of thin, leafless trees fracture the flow.
|"The Bar is Open". Two opportunistic lambs assess the possibilities.|
But new life is all around, lambs are bleating in the fields, on the look-out for a free helping from another lamb's mother; the grass still growing sparse. There is need for farmers to augment the feed now that the ewes are grazing for two and three at at a time.
|A day or two of warmth and these daffodils will split their hoods and open.|
At this time of year daffodils grow everywhere; we are close to the Welsh border here and the Welsh have a great fondness for them. It won't be long now before the trumpets open and blast their bright yellow song from every verge, lane, hedgerow and roadside. There are so many thousands of them everywhere that eventually they will become an unsightly, aggressive, intrusive spectacle; I will wish them gone, dead, and their rotting leaves out of sight before long, but for now I can't wait for their bright lanterns to lighten the dark days.
I will pick great bunches of them and bring them into the house. They grow in my garden too although gardener and I have been digging the spreading clumps up and 'distributing' them to bare areas on banks close to the house, but outside the garden. It is possible to have too much of a good thing. Daffodils have a lingering, messy death, that's their main drawback. And if you want the bulbs to retain enough strength to flower again next year, do not cut the leaves off before they are fully rotted.
Another welcome sign are the golden leaves of the weeping willow which has its feet permanently washed by the flow of the river. Red and golden dogwoods grow on the bank. Soon the leaves on willow and shrubs will turn green, providing shade for trout and a family of otters who play here very early in the morning.
March is the time for White Rock Cress to start flowering in rockeries. It is a very enthusiastic little plant, willing to escape from gardens the minute the gardener takes his eye off. Tumbling over walls and rocks it is a very pretty sight, flowering profusely and with great abandon wherever it can find a foothold. This clump is a garden escapee, flowering in a hedge which has been allowed to choke a beautiful ancient stone wall. Arabis (its botanical name) is welcome to become a permanent resident here, as far as I am concerned.
Not a garden escapee, but a plant very firmly kept tethered inside my boundaries: the beautiful Lenten Rose, or Hellebore. This is a particularly pretty specimen. The flowers are delicate and nod downwards, hardly visible from above. Hellebores are amongst the treasures of the garden which demand close attention and admiration. I have propped this flowerhead up so that I could bring the camera close from above.
Hellebores will self-seed profusely and produce many new seedlings. Unfortunately, they rarely come true from seed and even the most unusual plant will rejoin its common, usually pale purple, brethren.