In the west of Ireland, snow is not common. And we’ve had quite a bit already this winter. This afternoon, we had a dusting of unusually, soft powdery snow.
Usually, it is damp snow perfect for making snowmen. We’re told we will get more snow tomorrow night as Storm Emma makes her way from the Bay of Biscay and hits some cold Siberian air. Blizzard like conditions are expected in the east and south, where snowfall has already been heavier. The last time we had a blizzard was 1982, so it is really not something we are used to! Keep safe everyone.
I’ve been on the look out for bumblebees and today they are back! Three days earlier than last year. After a wet, cold January and February here in the west of Ireland, we are finally getting some dry weather, and today the temperatures reached about 14 degrees, in beautiful spring sunshine.
Most of the bumblebees I saw today were feeding on the willow in the garden (it’s a cultivated form which produces pollen a bit earlier than some of our native willows). The catkins are full of pollen.
Problem was the bees seemed to prefer the higher branches so it was next to impossible to get a good photograph. They appeared to be mostly Buff tailed queens (Bombus terrestris) though I think there may have been an Early bumblebee queen (Bombus pratorum) too – but it was too high and too fast for me to get a proper identification.
The droneflies were there too and where a bit more accommodating.
However, I did find a bumble feeding on the daffodils further down the garden and it posed perfectly.
I’m a little puzzled by this one as the yellow banding is usually the same colour in freshly emerged queens but this one has two different colours. Still a lovely bee! I am delighted the bees are back. I really feel spring is underway now.
It may be cold outside but there is a definite feeling of spring in the air. The birds are singing and chasing each other around the garden, and stocking up on peanuts.
The flowers seem to be coming in small flurries but I love the bright daffodils. So far only the dwarf ones are open but the others are not far off.
And the primrose are flowering in the bank by the hedgerow. They are one of my favorite wildflowers.
And for the early pollinators food is becoming available, so I am sure if it warms up a couple of degrees we will start to see a few early hoverflies and bumblebees. Willow is an excellent early pollen provider. This is a cultivated willow, always one of the earliest to have catkins and pollen in my garden. The wild willows are usually a couple of weeks behind it.
Our friend Celia, at Frogswell Garden, has the most amazing garden. It’s a woodland garden filled with woodland plants and flowers of all shapes and sizes. At this time of year the hellebores and daffodils are at their best. We visited last Friday and here is to just a small sample of what we saw. Celia is a true plants woman and her love and knowledge of gardening is evident just walking through the grounds with her. I should write more but have decided that a picture paints a thousand words, so enjoy!
We’ve had the most amazing weather for the last few days, lots of warm sunshine. Everything in the garden seems to be rushing on and the jobs are mounting up! The first fruit tree to flower was the plum.
The pear is not far behind it and I expect the apples will be after those.
The greenhouse is packed with seed trays. And both the greenhouse and polytunnel are providing plenty spring greens. While outside there is lots of purple sprouting broccoli and cauliflowers to enjoy. In the tunnel, broad beans and mangetout peas have been planted out and more planted in pots to be planted outside in the coming weeks.
And we’ve been working on the new flower and herb garden. There is still lots to do, though the first plants are in. The miniature daffodils have given a lovely display. The weed membrane will be covered with small stones which we are still waiting to be delivered but the main hard landscaping is done and the fence is finally all painted.
I just love this time of year. There is so many new things to admire, so much to see and enjoy.
Sunday, the first of February, was Ireland’s Saint Brigit’s day and seen by many in Ireland, as the first day of spring. Outside it is cold with wintery showers of hail and sleet, but the sun is shining in between. In the garden, there are signs of life. A beautiful Hellebore I got from my sister, is in flower; daffodils almost ready to open; my Brigid’s cross made from rushes; bluebell shoots from seeds I planted two years ago; hazel catkins opening and elder catkins looking nice again the blue sky.
As we enter the final week of January, it does seem that spring is on the way. In the polytunnel some self-seeded rocket has already germinated. I cleared away the weeds, in the hope it will continue to grow. Rocket is one my my favorite salad crops. Meanwhile the broad-bean seeds that my daughter and I had planted in pots a week or so ago had disappeared (well, all but one). I suspect a mouse is to blame. So we replanted and this time popped a piece of glass over the top of the pots!
Then yesterday, out for a walk at Turlough near the Country Life Museum we spotted some daffodils in flower!
Our own daffodil leaves are only just appearing above the grass, so the above is definitely early. A lady out walking her dog pointed out a lovely bunch of snowdrops – she called them ‘Bridget Flowers’, which she said was a local name for them. I haven’t heard them called this before but Saint Bridget’s day is the first of February, so can see the connection.
In the garden, we cut back the autumn raspberry canes. I watched two robins busy searching for tasty titbits, among the fallen raspberries leaves. It seems that they have paired up and started their courtship already. According the the RSPB website this is not usual for Robins in a mild winter, though breeding will not start till March (http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/discoverandlearn/birdguide/name/r/robin/nesting.aspx).
So is Spring on its way?