Spring Cannot be Cancelled!

Waterford, south-east Ireland. Saturday, 27th March 2021

The title is borrowed from a new book from Thames & Hudson which they describe as “an uplifting manifesto in which David Hockney and his long-time friend Martin Gayford reflect on our extraordinary period of confinement, and art’s capacity to divert and inspire.” Of course, those who are reading here might well be inclined to suggest that for us it is gardening which has the capacity to divert and inspire.

What do you think?

We are a year into the restrictions imposed by the Covid19 pandemic – I emphasise that the restrictions are imposed by the virus and not by the government for I listen with annoyance to the many who complain about these restrictions as though they were imposed at a whim to cause inconvenience when they are simply for protection and the health of the nation. I cannot say other than they were a huge inconvenience, a disruption to life as we had become used to living it. Small things bring it to mind: I had an appointment yesterday to have an X-ray taken and we realised we didn’t have coins to pay for the parking – the pay station at the hospital doesn’t take notes nor cards – and we recalled that we hadn’t used cash for over a year. All our shopping in this past year has been online!

The garden has many little treats, aside from the plants, and the visit of some linnets to the bird feeders is a reason to be very happy. There are large flocks in the surrounding farmland and they regularly move along the trees on the garden boundary but have never come to the feeders…until recently.

Days out are a thing of the past – no days to visit gardens, no train journeys to Dublin to walk the town, visit the shops, enjoy lunch, no walks at home as the nearby walkway is far too busy to be safe in our opinion, no travel to visit favourite places, no hugging grandchildren, no playing with them or listening to their stories and on and on goes the list of inconveniences and annoyances goes. Thankfully, in parallel, life in the garden continues with no recognition of the existence of this virus. Nature continues, spring cannot be cancelled, and we should be very grateful for that simple fact. We have our gardens, little havens of sanity and normality in the midst of this chaos, and this is a wonderful time in the garden as new growth and fresh flowers seem almost to bound ahead with each successive day. Thank goodness for them!

Narcissus ‘Geranium’ giving its fragrance indoors.

Now, all this airy fairy talk about gardening is all very well; it’s a harmless enough pastime but it won’t get very much done on the ground; one has to get out there and get a shift on things! So, I did a bit. The grass was cut but trimming the edges was halted midway when the strimmer gave up the ghost – it is on its way back to the retailer with the promise of a refund if it is confirmed as beyond repair. I had only received it last June as a replacement for the one purchased the previous October – perhaps the battery-powered Black & Decker cordless strimmer is not the one for me!

There was a shredding session and the following addition to the compost heap – which I topped off with a few inches of last year’s compost as we intend using it to grow pumpkins during the summer. I spent a while on my knees – the nearest I ever get to praying, Mary says, as I weeded and freshen under the hedges around the garden. An area of paving which led to the chicken run, which is gone for several years, was lifted and relaid in several other areas. There were enough slabs to make a path alongside an area used to hold potted plants and a cold frame, some others at the door of the shed and others as an edging to a bed. A few newly arrived plants were put into the ground and some new snowdrops, held in pots for the last month or so, were planted out.

I got a new camera and lens during the week and yesterday morning was my first opportunity to try it out. As I was not yet familiar with the workings of the camera I opted to simply shoot on “Auto” and it produced results of shocking contrast and colour saturation so I will not be returning to “Auto” again. After a reading of the manual, I gave it another try with slightly better results. The third attempt was acceptable and further adjustments to the settings had me back with passable results by afternoon. So, here are my shots from yesterday morning:

The outstanding plant in the garden at the moment, without any doubt, is Trillium chloropetalum. My plant came from that great and most generous of gardener’s, the late Bob Gordon, and it was the first trillium that grew with vigour for me. It has been divided several times over the years, and several pieces passed on to others, and has now made a good clump.


Muscari armeniacum can become a weed in the garden as it multiplies and self-seeds vigorously. It took us several years to remove it from a bed where it had become rampant. However, it is a good blue and a very welcome plant in the garden when it can be coaxed into behaving itself by planting in a position where it doesn’t have the freedom to spread without limits. There are also several other muscaris which are attractive garden plants.

The reminders of Christmases past are around the garden, tucked under shrubs and trees, where they flower year after year. These hyacinths were originally bought as treated bulbs which could be forced into flower in time for Christmas and, afterwards, were planted out into the garden. It struck me today that it is peculiar that we never cut the flowers to bring indoors given that we appreciate their fragrance so much at Christmas.

Ipheoin uniflorum is another of those bulbs which can increase at a wonderful rate. I think they are at their best planted right in against the base of trees and shrubs, a position where little else will thrive. In that position, they will flower before the foliage comes on the overhead tree/shrub and the foliage will hardly be noticeable later in the year. I used grow a few named cultivars but they have become mixed up over the years and now can only identify ‘Wisley Blue’ with confidence – you will notice the blue flowers:

Erythroniums have been a heartbreak this year. To date, only two cultivar – ‘Purple King’ and ‘Susannah’ have managed to show their flowers and I believe it may well be my darling pheasants who are picking off the flowers. I may make mutterings of roast pheasant but may settle for withholding their peanut treats for a few days.

Finally, just because I’m still playing with the new camera – another run around the garden!

I’m sharing this blog with a group of fellow bloggers who contribute to a “Six on Saturday” theme which is hosted by “The Propagator”. To read more contributions go to The Propagator’s entry for today, scroll down to the comments and you will find other bloggers have posted links to their Saturday entries there. Lots to read!

48 thoughts on “Spring Cannot be Cancelled!

  1. I am always enthralled with your garden, Paddy! (and it never looks the same!) Gorgeousness all around. I agree, the trillium are the shining stars, but lots of other beauties in there at the moment, too. I am also thankful to have a love of gardening, especially during this crazy time of the pandemic. Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

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    1. The trilliums are a real favourite here especially so as I had tried to grow them for years and they are very slow to develop from bought plants. Those shown came from a friend’s garden and have simply romped along over the years making a great garden plant as well as being special. I have a white-flowered one which grows as well, T. albidum.

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  2. Looks like you are getting the hang of the new camera very quickly! I’m delighted to realise that the birds coming to my feeders are linnets! I thought they were sparrows but wasn’t happy with my identification of them! I also have definite sparrows that have the correct appearance!

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    1. It took me a whole weekend to put up that garden feature! Some days I like it and others not. I am inclined to not point the camera at it too much except when I want it to be the shot. I don’t like it in the background of photographs as it is a distraction. We have big flocks of linnets in the farmland around us but they are only coming in to the feeders recently. I love the erythroniums and they are growing beautifully for me and I love the pheasants but they are not getting on well together.

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  3. What a delight to be shown the beauties of your garden. Great picture of that pheasant of yours. I prefer it when our pheasant stays on the other side of the wall as I have few blooms to spare for it, and probably a larger brood too in a few weeks time. Thank you so much for sharing.

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    1. Those pheasants are pure beggars. The hens especially follow me in the garden and call for food and keep after me until I go get a few peanuts for them.

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    1. The cock is fabulously coloured and there is an iridescence to the foliage which is really fabulous – beautiful greens and blues as the light catches it.

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    1. Of course! It’s only an empty threat but they don’t pay me any attention anyway! They have had breakfast already and are looking in the window at me waiting for something more tasty. I throw out barley for them and they look at it with a certain distain and look at me with a “where’s the nice stuff” look in their eyes until I produce the peanuts! Too clever by far – and the gardener too stupid!

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      1. It wasn’t the lens which came with the camera, the kit lens, as they call it, but I just bought the body – body in one shop and lens in another as it turned out for each had only one and not the other.

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      2. I messed around yesterday with the pre-set shooting settings, all auto, but put in my own settings to manual today and fared far better.

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  4. I loved the glimpse of a tulip tree in one of your swings around the garden. Very beautiful. And the garden seems very well organised and neat, as well as pretty. No hugs of the grandchildren is dreadful. My poor father is suffering the same.

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  5. Spring has definitely sprung in your garden…looking wonderful. I had no idea there are multiple varieties of muscari. We have just one. I suspect it’s the rampant one that you describe, but that’s OK with me as I’m an idle and incompetent gardener (I blame my knees, which are very unforgiving these days. That’s my excuse anyway!)

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    1. I know the feeling – of those creaking joints. I’ve had a hip replacement but on my first visit to the surgeon he immediately commented that my knee was in a bad way. I asked if he would do two for the price of one but he wouldn’t! And, then, there is the arthritis in the shoulder. An aging body is a blasted curse!

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      1. Just when we’ve gained enough life experience to know what we really want to do, our bodies let us down and we can’t do it. And guess what, it’s gonna get worse! On the other hand, pain is nature’s way of reminding us we’re still alive, so I suppose we should be grateful! Happy days, eh?

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    1. I’ll have to show you a photograph of the front gate – the one with the chain and padlock and the barbed wire running along the top and the piers! I’m not saying we are inhospitable but we satisfied with our own company.

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  6. The Ipheoin is quite nice and new to me. You have an impressive collection of bulbs. Do you actually keep the pheasants as domesticated fowl? They’re so bright and beautiful. It seems that the joy of their presence must compensate for any damage done. Do they cause damage to other plants? I know that other fowl, if allowed to wander freely, can prove quite destructive.

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    1. The pheasants are wild birds but because they are fed everyday they are semi-tame, I suppose. They don’t mind us working in the garden, even very close to them, and wander about taking no heed of us. They do very little damage. They make dust baths when the soil is dry and that annoys the head gardener!

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  7. Love reading your blog and looking at the photos of your garden, including pheasant and birds on feeder. I love white muscari and the bicolour ones with darker blue at the tips. I wonder what sort of soil Trilliums like? I’d love some.

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  8. Hi Paddy – good tips on growing Ipheion – I planted several in the autumn but they all came up blind. They’re in the rock garden so maybe I should find a nice shady tree base for them instead. Your trillium is outstanding I have two which are just putting up leaves now but it’s only their second year so are far from developing a good clump. I’m optimistic though…

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  9. I’m like the pupil handing up homework at the very last minute!
    The trilliums look really nice, Paddy. Enjoy the new camera. It would be hard to surpass your photos with old one, but I’m sure you’ll try! Happy Easter

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