The daffodil is symbolic to many of us; an innocent sign that winter and spring are side by side before walking away from each other taking the past and the future with them. The nodding yellow flowers of Narcissus can be bathed in sunshine or covered in snow, or, as I write this, blown horizontal by storm Eunice. It will weather all of this, experiencing everything that this time of year throws at it until it fades while other flowers form. Playing the role of seasonal buffer to perfection, the Narcissus must be able to withstand hungry bulb grubbers as well as the weather; it has become the icon it is through its attractiveness and its defences. (more…)
When we think of conifers many things spring to mind. The tall straight evergreen woodlands, North American giants, a festive winter addition to the house or Cypress punctuating Mediterranean skies; pinecones sitting in the crook of a tree or resinous smells drifting in a cool still air. These are all true of conifers, but let’s give some love to deciduous conifers, some of the shining stars of autumn. (more…)
Did you know that most birds stop singing in August and into September? They’ve done all their brooding and nesting and concentrate on building up strength for any future journey, no territory to mark. This month has always felt different, but I’ve never put my finger on why exactly; it can be as warm as any summer month, but the absence of that excited chatter and bustle of birds give it an atmosphere of its own. I think we’re all effected by the ebb and flow of the seasons, consciously or subconsciously the natural background ambience has an impact, from high summer to the darkest winter day. It’s taken a few hundred years for Western society to push nature to the boundaries, convincing ourselves we’re an exceptional species that is no longer part of natural systems, but the inescapable truth is that we are very much part of nature as much as the birds and the plants.
The Garden is open again and we’re all looking forward to seeing visitors back, and they’ll be back in time to catch the optimism of spring throughout the displays. Tulips in the Mediterranean, magnolias in the family beds and ruffled new leaves clambering out of buds and stretching into action. They’ll also see carpets of flowers that we didn’t plant, they were here before the Botanic Garden and maybe before whatever was before the Botanic Garden; they’re Anemone nemerosa otherwise known as wood anemones. (more…)