Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Searching for Spring

Friko's Manor end-on

Leaving the house to go for a walk in search of signs of Spring the omens are not altogether favourable. Dark clouds have been brewing all day, the river acts as a funnel for the sharp wind, aiming it directly at the garden and pushing tree branches eastwards. The weathermen promised that there will be no rain, perhaps the wind won't allow the heavens to discharge their load over Valley's End.

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.


  1. These are just so beautiful, Friko, harbingers of spring indeed. I absolutely LOVE that last amazing picture of the hellebore. Wow!

  2. your life
    as you portray it here
    is as lovely
    as most imagine
    mine to be
    in Polynesia.

    You are in a paradise indeed,
    and your Friko-ness
    makes it available
    to us who will never see
    but in our dreams
    and words. . . .


    Aloha from Honolulu

    Comfort Spiral



  3. Oh Friko - we woke up to three inches of snow this morning and haven't seen grass since November. Put on a happy face - you are blest, and I am so envious. Why did my German ancestors emigrate to Wisconsin? But it is a pleasure to see the Lenten rose on the first day of Lent, even if it's not mine to touch. Thanks!

  4. spring is looking gorgeous around your place...everything is in puddles here today...but i bet it drives spring out of our frozen ground...

  5. Wonderful photo's Friko, a pleasure to visit :o)

  6. Oh your photos are lovely.. that first one stole my heart. You're far ahead of us here. It's been mild but snowy all day.

  7. Truly - all the glorious signs of Spring! You are 3-4 weeks ahead of us here in Quebec. Thank you for the foretaste - most welcome!

  8. You are months ahead of us here in Alberta. Nobody dares to plant anything until May 24. So your photos are doubly welcome, Friko, and your poetic prose the same.
    -- K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  9. Hi Friko
    each one of these images is splendid. There is nothing like spring. In my lexicon it is a metaphor for hope.
    Happy days

  10. I don't suppose you can do it with the daffodils, their leaves being relatively short, but I braid the skinny skinny leaves of my early blooming iris (not the bearded kind). I don't know what kind they are, I had never seen leaves so long and skinny on iris before we moved out here.

    the white rock cress and hellebore are beautiful. I wonder if the white rock cress will grow down here.

  11. Wow, Friko. We are still under several feet of snow.

    How in the world did I end up here?!

    Greetings from Minneapolis,


  12. Lovely to see these signs of spring. I like to think of you lifting the head of the hellebore to photograph it. We are lucky recipients of the beautiful result.

    Your post is particularly welcome here, as spring feels a long way off in the Hudson Valley. A terrible ice storm the other day left many homes without power. On the other hand, there are bluebirds building a nest in one of our bird boxes. Hopeful signs.

  13. Delightful. Beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful photos.

  14. I enjoyed our walk around your manor, but I must say thinking of rot and ugliness is truly a joy killer....When these thoughts come into your mind let them go and stay with the joy of the trumpets..what is, what is hoped for....stay with that....A truly beautiful space you have around you..much beauty awakening
    I really love your photos too

  15. You are quite a photographer. The pictures are all beautiful and made me long for lambs and daffodils or any other signs that spring might really be on the way.

  16. Heavenly hellebores, daffodils (being of Welsh stock, now I know why daffodils are among my favorites!) and precious lambs...they are such a delight to watch in the Spring jumping and leaping...
    Thank you for a much needed dose of Springtime!

  17. A beautifully uplifting post, Friko. Super photographs.

  18. Beautiful, simply beautiful. The photos and the words, like blast their bright yellow song

  19. You have truly captured your spring in photos and I can hear your heavy breathing between the lines. Lovely.

  20. This was a lovely walk around your home despite the brooding clouds in your first photograph. My feelings about daffodils are similar to yours. I rejoice to see them in bud and then in flower but get fed up with the lingering demise of their leaves and try to grow candytuft through them. Your hellebore is a delight. We have several in the garden but not this one.

  21. Beautiful photos, and I just LOVE your house (what can be seen of it)!

  22. Some of the most beautiful photographs I have ever seen. The willow tree with that touch of red is amazing.

  23. I don't even know what to say...
    you have left me breathless.

    Gorgeous photos and words . Wow. Friko. Just. wow.

  24. The first photo, with your home tucked under the cloud-filled sky, nestled against the trees, caught my breath with its beauty. I don't know how close you are to neighbors, but the house looks solitary, yet content.

    And the hellebores - so intricate. It takes ausdauer to bloom so beautifully every year.

  25. Such lovely beauties blooming already!
    I made the mistake one year of cutting back the daffodils surrounding a little pond by the front porch. The following year, only 2 bulbs produced flowers... I was so disappointed.

  26. Excellent photographs... But in a good spring the daffs are out for St David's Day. So I think we are allowed to grumble a bit, don't you?

  27. I loved this little walk around your place, Friko. It's quite lovely and there are clearly signs that the nascent spring is on its way. May it be one of your best.

  28. Wow! You are so fortunate to have the beauty of nature on your doorstep. Lovely and lovely photo's too!

    Anna :o]

  29. What a marvelous post, both in words and pictures! Thank you, Friko!

  30. Friko, you have become a consummate photographer! All beautiful, but let's see, I love the monochromatic, shimmering river with the reflections, the ewes and lambs--spring animal babies!, the truly weeping willow, and the exotic hellebore. Nothing has been forced out of hiding here yet, maybe some budding azalae and dogwood...

  31. Liebe Friko, me too I love weeping willows and dafoodils. And - what I just saw on your side bar - I also loved to read Possessions by A.S.Byatt (nobody else I know). I also read your comment on Ellen`s blog and could nod. So sister, viele liebe Grüße aus Norddeutschland, and yes, spring will come soon!

  32. So nice to see what is coming to life in your part of the UK, that Hellibore is practically exotic.
    I dream of a house situated like yours!
    Happy ramblings

  33. Friko, this is a gorgeous post. Those lambs! The river. Every photo is splendid.

    I have never seen white rock cress, it's beautiful, and your photo perfect.

    Hellebores are among my very very favorite flowers, but I have yet to plant any. I have heard what you say, that they get back to their original color over time as they spread. But this specimen truly is spectacular.

    I love the ochre of willows this time of year. My friend Inge (whom you "know") and I drove up to the lake last evening, and the twilight, with snow covering the fields, was lovely. When we got to the lake, the willows around it were shining gold. We always speak of it when we see them around.

    Just beautiful, my heart feels light this morning. And I have responded to your wonderful comment at my post.

  34. Beautiful photos and it was lovely to see the White Rock Cress .
    This winter has dragged on long enough and any signs of light and colour are very welcome .
    We're just seeing the crocus ( I'm using the singular on purpose this year ) . Daffodils are a long way off yet , but at least the sun's shining today . Quite cheery if one's wearing gloves and a muffler !

  35. diese wunderschönen Bilder, von denen jedes einzelne seinen eigenen Charakter und eine gewisse Stimmung widerspiegelt. Eine wunderbare Führung in Wort und Bild durch die Welten der Natur... Ein Genuss!

    Dir einen stillen und schönen Abend, liebe Friko!


  36. A truly beautiful post Friko. The pictures are lovely – you have a great camera and know how to use it. Those flowers are so delicate and sharp. Your first picture is more than a photo – it shows your world and how beautiful it is. There are many trees around us with flowering buds already but how I wish we had daffodils in my yard.


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