A Late Early Spring

Look!

My first tulip ‘Early Harvest’ is out! These, unlike most other tulips, flower extremely early, long before the rest of the garden has had a chance to wake up. They are, however, 10-14 days later than usual this year. The contrast of the bright orange against the brown soil is uplifting to say the least!

I have also got another early tulip already showing… can’t remember what it is, but perhaps it will come to me when it opens fully.

As usual, things are moving along rapidly now that the hard frosts have given way to some mild damp weather, and early spring means the bees are HUNGRY… this little fella couldn’t wait for the bud of the Chionodoxa (‘Glory of the Snow’) to open, and just scrabbled around until he managed to open it himself!

The crocuses have also been attracting the bees…

These splashes of colour are so welcome, and I hope they brighten your day too!

Enjoy the Easter weekend, and hope you get SUNSHINE! ๐Ÿ˜€

In a Vase on Monday: Sunshine and Smiles

Spring is springing!

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And what a wait it was this year; we had even more snow this week, and I thought Spring had forgotten us completely. But fortunately the snow has all but gone, revealing some spring flowers that are finally getting the warm sunshine they need to open up and show their colourful petals.

This little blue vase was put to good use once again, for a small but bright and beautiful spring posy: Crocus, Snowdrops, Hepatica (blue and white), and a purple Primula.

The white Hepatica (H. nobilis ‘White Forest’) has pretty pink stamens, and is the only special variety that has survived in my garden. The Primulas were flowering before our last lot of snow – in complete shade!

Both the flowers and warm sunshine have made me smile. The gardening season should be well and truly open by Easter weekend!

I am joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her addictive weekly meme – and with spring arriving in many parts of the northern hemisphere, why not join her too? Bringing flowers indoors – in all seasons – brings such pleasure!

 

 

 

In a Vase on Monday: Forcing Spring

Although there are only hours to go until the Spring equinox, the few spring flowers that have managed to appear are now under a thick layer of snow again and the daytime temperature is back to below zero.

But I still have a vase to join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her Monday meme! And Cathy is celebrating her sixth blogging anniversary too, so do go and visit her!ย ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

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Last week I cut some Forsythia and Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum) to force – within a couple of days both had opened their flowers. The Ribes, is a deep pinky red when it flowers naturally and is covered with all sorts of bees, but when forced it is a pale creamy white and looks even more delicate than normal. I wonder what the bees would think!

 

ย I hope all of you in the wintry northern hemisphere are keeping safe and warm, and those of you in the warmer south are getting the weather you want!

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In a vase on Monday: Iris, Snowdrops and Raindrops

That ‘inbetween’ time has begun and there are finally a few flowers beginning to open as winter draws to an end and spring knocks on the door. After a couple of mild and sunny days some crocuses and dwarf irises are providing tiny splashes of colour in the otherwise brown and ragged flower beds, and the snowdrops have opened up completely. Just enough for a small vase!

From my small clump of Iris reticulata I picked two deep blue flowers, and one pale ‘Katharine Hodgkin’ which has fascinating markings but in my eyes cannot compete with the gorgeous colour of the blue one. With the help of some artificial light you can perhaps appreciate what I mean…

A few snowdrops were added and I used my tiny pottery vase again, bought at the ย Christmas market last year. The small rock in the photo is a reminder of a wonderful weekend spent in the mountains a couple of years ago, picked from the dry part of the river bed of the Isar near the Austrian border. ๐Ÿ™‚

I am pleased to be back this week, joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her lovely Monday meme, and look forward to visiting many other vases over the next couple of days.

Have a great week!

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Snow fleas? Pull the other one!

(If you don’t like tiny creepy crawlies, I suggest you go and look at a different post!)

On our walks in the woods recently we have once again noticed little black specks on the snow. Until now we thought it must be dirt from the machinery used for forestry or from old tractors driving through the woods, but this year it was extreme and so we took a closer look…

Here we saw that where tracks are (from tractor tyres, deer, our footprints, skis etc) there is more of this ‘dirt’. Could it be soot? Is our air so bad? Here, in the middle of nowhere, with no industry for miles…

When we got home my Man of Many Talents googled for ages, trying to find something about it, and when he showed me what he had found I was AMAZED! He went back to get more photos so we could check the facts!

Look…

Now I’m going to get even closer…

They are SNOW FLEAS! Now, maybe we are the only people in the world who have never heard of snow fleas before, so I hope I am not showing my ignorance, but aren’t they simply incredible? Here are several hundred or even thousands of them gathering in the hollows of tracks.

Now a little information that we found in German, summarized:

Snow fleas come out of the ground in February/March when the temperature is just above freezing. They are often thought to be soot, as they cover the snow quite thickly in places. But these ‘specks of dirt’ are all the same size (around 1 millimetre long). They can crawl and jump (about 10cm high). However, they aren’t actually fleas, but springtails, so Wikipedia says they are technically not insects.

They emerge at temperatures of about -3ยฐC, and live on fungi, pollen or algae which provide them with a special protein that functions as a kind of antifreeze. They prefer damp forests with evergreens. It is a real migration at this time of year, as they use the snow to move more easily and to search for food and for new ground where they can increase their population.

For scientific purposes my Man of Many Talents let some crawl across his hand, and we think they are actually smaller than 1 millimetre…

So, please let me know if you have ever encountered these fascinating little creatures and any extra information would be very welcome!

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Interesting links:

German:

http://www.flora-x.de/schneefloh%20ceratophysella.html

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schneefloh

English:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springtail

https://www.bioethics.ac.uk/news/-snow-flea-antifreeze-protein–could-help-improve-organ-preservation.php

 

Book Review: ‘Lab Girl’ by Hope Jahren

I have just finished reading this great book, recommended to me by Sheryl at Flowery Prose last November and immediately put on my Christmas wish list. You can read her review here, but I will add a few words too.

Hope Jahren is a scientist with a gift for writing, and the book flows right from the start. She recounts her life in an enchanting and extremely readable way, mixing in fascinating information and descriptions of trees, plants and her work. The story is full of ups and downs, telling candidly, passionately, and often hilariously of her (sometimes unconventional) struggles to set up labs, her discoveries, her dedication to her research, and the dear friend Bill who accompanied her through it all. Her style of writing is fluid and amusing, but also incredibly poignant when we note the hidden comparisons between the lives of trees and those of humans.

I really loved this book and wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone with a vague interest in trees, botany or science in general who wants a good weekend read.

Take a look at Sheryl’s review – she can say it so much better than I can!

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