An End To March

I’m taking a short break from ‘The Anxious Gardener‘ but meanwhile, and after months of winter drear, it seems a shame not to share some images from the last days of March.


Daffodils aren’t around for long but The Priory’s brief show is hearty.  I’m so used to their regular, faithful appearance that I don’t even bother photographing many of them any more.

February Gold

(But I made an exception a month ago for Narcissus ‘February Gold’ – which lived up to its name with about a day to spare).

Daffodils (2)

I’ve written before about the dozen or so varieties I’ve planted since 2008 but many Priory daffs pre-date my arrival and, names unknown, continue to thrive.

spring bank (4)

I have an irresistible urge to show the bank below the greenhouses at this time of year.

spring bank (3)

Other than now-over crocuses and snowdrops, I haven’t added anything to this slope.  But unlike the previous gardener, I don’t strim it; at least not until the autumn.  How he strimmed this splendour is beyond me.

spring bank (2)

I say every year how I love this bank in springtime and especially so as I do nothing to it … other than that one autumnal strim.


The big weeping willows are coming into leaf and another irresistible urge is to lie down beneath them and, fighting to keep my eyes open, clear my head for a few moments to appreciate scale that most gardens can’t accommodate.


A month or so ago, I cut off all the leaves on my bergenias.  You don’t have to but I don’t like the black-splotchy old leaves and prefer to start the season with a clean slate: fresh green leaves, clearly visible flower stalks.  But do as you like – I shan’t judge.

Magnolia stellata (2)

I’ve only ever known one Magnolia stellata intimately.  The Priory’s is a little tree and only reaches my chest.  It has barely grown taller during the nine years of our intimacy.  In the past, its flowers have been browned by frost but this year they are unblemished.

Magnolia stellata (1)

Other than giving it an ericaceous feed (about now), a winter mulch of leaf-mould and keeping its planting square free of weeds, I leave it be.  I’ve never pruned it.

Magnolia stellata

It’s a beauty and when I finally settle into a house for good, with no plans to move, I shall plant one (and hope for lichen too).  And honestly, there aren’t many trees or shrubs I can say that about.

Male pheasant fighting (2)

Male pheasants make an awful racket in March.  It is particularly their loud, short, territorial proclamation that makes me jump and sets my teeth on edge.

Male pheasant fighting (1)

These two were having a protracted battle for the Bird Feeder Territory.   The scatterings from the feeders make this the must-have territory.

Male pheasant fighting (4)

Their sporadic fighting drifted back and forth across the lawn, including a dunk in the pond.

Male pheasant fighting (3)

I don’t know who won the war but I suspect whoever did, will end up the fatter of the two.


Wood anemones are another rich reward for not mowing and not strimming – though you can see where I cut a path to the bridge when mowing starts again.

Canada goose (2)

Every spring, at least one pair of Canada geese arrive to pooh on the lawns and honk repeatedly.  They honk a lot, Canada geese.  And pooh.

Canada goose

Their arrival is as much a spring marker as any number of daffodils and anemones.


By the greenhouse, one of my few auriculars flowered on Friday.  I love auriculars – as perfect a flower as I could wish for.  And I love how they almost stare back at you, demanding your approval.  An approval I give readily.



A Frosty Pause

After my last doleful post, winter got her act together.


For a couple of days last week the rain stopped, the skies cleared, temperatures plummeted, mud froze,


and, at long last, it was shiveringly cold.


Not on a Siberian or Alaskan scale but at -5°C, Sussex was cold.

My first chore on arriving at work is to feed the Priory’s voracious guests.   (Pheasant don’t have an invite but loiter under the feeders nevertheless).


My second is to make a pre-work cup of tea.


Backlit by the rising sun, Priory Garden HQ is a warm, inviting lure on a frosty morning and, as I approached, I heard a rousing, angelic choir … if only, perhaps, in my head.   I filled the kettle and nestled on the electric heater like a fat, broody hen.


As the kettle rumbled to life, I studied ice patterns on the glass


before the rising sun rubbed them away.

My mini ice-age didn’t last long and warm rain has settled in once more … but it was nice whilst it lasted.  I’d still like some snow-fall to smother the Priory in white again.  We haven’t had a decent amount of snow since 2013 and I rather miss it.


January 2013

Not everyone shares my love of ice and snow but I like living in a country with four distinct seasons; and, when they are not, it unsettles me.

On the home front, we finally moved into an C18th cottage a few days ago.  Jim and I wander amongst towers of boxes and through unfamiliar rooms with unfamiliar quirks; open windows which we can’t then close; tussle with swollen doors; hear odd noises; worry over odd smells; hunt down draughts; anxiously install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors; sadly shake our heads over tragic 1970’s ‘improvements’; recoil at bizarre decorating decisions; wrestle with an uppity wood-burner (who needs to knuckle down sharpish if she wants to avoid an early Ebay listing); gaze at an intimidating, overgrown, very steeply, terraced garden; and fall asleep beneath a red tractor and giant, garish flowers (painted, badly, on our bedroom wall).

With this large renovation job, you’ll understand if I relegate blogging somewhat.  I shall still post occasionally but plastering, painting and eradicating odd smells aside, we have a garden to make.