Friday, 16 March 2018

Stop grumbling!

Just lately I seem to have done little but whinge about the weather but signs of spring are undeniably around and I must be less negative. I recently mentioned Lent Lilies, Narcissus pseudonarcissus and Coltsfoot, Tussilago farfara blooming cheerfully.
Purple Saxifrage is now blooming in an old sink. Stefen Hill, Daventry.
15 March, 2018

Another example is the Purple Saxifrage, Saxifraga oppositifolia, now flowering in a trough in our back garden. It is an arctic-alpine plant, found widely in the high arctic but also in mountains, including Britain, where it is found as far south as the Brecon Beacons. It is not a difficult plant to grow, given a gritty, free-draining compost, and surely ought to be seen more often.
I subscribe to the BBC Gardening magazine and one of the first things I look for when my latest copy arrives is any article on the subject of alpines and other rock garden plants. I am usually disappointed and yet, with many houses now only having the tiniest of gardens, troughs, tubs or similar containers are surely an interesting option. The 'trough' in which the saxifrage is growing is an old Belfast sink upon which I slapped a sand/grit/peat* mix - there are various recipes on line - having first wrapped chicken wire around the receptacle. Every year it gathers a little more moss and lichen on the surface and now looks quite venerable.
Our native Snake's Head Fritillary, Fritillaria meleagris, is now in bloom in the front garden, joining F. michailovskyi. The Snake's Head is found here and there in Northamptonshire but there can be little doubt that in our county they represent surreptitious plantings.
Snake's Head Fritillaries are now blooming in our front garden.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 16 March, 2018

Perhaps most vernal of all were the lambs now frolicking on Matt Moser's land. I didn't attempt to approach the mothers too closely in case they might be alarmed but they didn't seem too unhappy as I stood ten or fifteen yards away. As for their lambs, busy suckling, they seemed completely unconcerned.

Suddenly there seem to be lambs everywhere! 16 March, 2018

That really has stopped my grumbling! And the total for Foxhill Farm creeps up to 66 species, including the rather handsome crab spider, Ozyptila praticola.

* I actually used a peat-free compost and it has proved perfectly suitable.

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