Here we are at the start of another week – the last week in January already! As usual I am linking up with Cathy at Rambling In The Garden to join in with her lovely challenge to find something from the garden to bring into the house every Monday.
This weeks find was unexpected – the blossom on my purple leaved plum tree (called I believe prunus cerasifera) is always the first to appear, but I do not remember seeing it as early as January before. Looking at the tree from my kitchen there is no sign of any blossom, but the far side of the tree, which is facing south, is already covered in fat buds and quite a few flowers. Yesterdays walk around the garden with the dogs found me chopping off a few branches to bring indoors and many of those fat buds have opened in the warmth of the house to give a real feeling of spring to my dining room.
I took these photos early this morning in the kitchen, which is where I always find the best light in the winter and spring mornings. As the day wears on the light becomes too harsh and in the summer, when the sun is already high in the sky by breakfast, I have to find another window to photograph by in the morning as this one will always result in very harsh shadows.
I have used my macro lens today, as this captures the delicate beauty of these tiny flowers perfectly.
I nearly always set my camera to Aperture priority when shooting flowers and I choose a low f stop to allow the maximum light into my camera. This gives me a good focal point with a lovely blurry background. If you have a camera which allows you to choose your focal point pick one of the flowers towards the front of your arrangement and always think about how the light is shining on the petals.
I keep my editing fairly simple as I am not yet comfortable with Photoshop. As I use a Mac I load my photos into iPhoto and do a little cropping, lightening and reducing of shadows. The same effects can be achieved in PICASA – a free downloadable photo editing software which is surprisingly powerful and easy to use.
Having had a taste of blossom this week I am now feeling more impatient for spring to arrive and fill the garden with all the lovely delicate colours and textures. The light is already lasting much later into the day and I can once again squeeze an hour or two of weeding into the afternoons on a dry day.
Having let the Forget-Me-Nots self seed into my spring borders I am slightly horrified to see just how many plants are now growing in this area – these combined with some violets that have grown rampantly since last year and ever increasing numbers of muscari bulbs are squeezing out everything else including my primroses, cyclamen and delicate iris reticulata. I now have a big job on to try and restore order in these beds before the spring bulbs start to flower!
I am also throwing the last of the tulip bulbs into the ground in the hope that they are not too late! I rarely finish planting my tulips before Christmas, but am particularly behind this year. I really need to get the last of the bulbs in and the autumn sown hardy annuals cleared out of the greenhouse and into the cold frames asap, so that I can start sowing seed in February. This endless wet weather is holding me up though – I am keeping my fingers crossed for some drier days soon!
Whilst my gardening time is limited by the weather I am making the most of my extra free hours to get out and about. Last week I saw the film ‘The Danish Girl ‘and today ‘Room’. I have been to a concert of Duke Ellington music, the ballet Sleeping Beauty, have a piano recital to go to and am hoping to visit the winter gardens at Anglesey Abbey and the Cambridge Botanical Gardens in February. Added to that there is time to catch up on reading and my own piano practice – as I am relatively new to the piano I am finding it very difficult to learn to both read the music and find the right keys, so this is Slow Learning at its best!
A particularly exciting note is that I have a wedding to grow for in July! I do love a wedding and my bride would like a church and reception filled with english country garden flowers in shades of pink and apricot with lots of fresh greens – it sounds like a heavenly mix! In February I will be making my first sowing of hardy and half hardy annuals and I will repeat these sowings a second and possibly third time in early and late March to try and ensure there is plenty of lovely material to pick from in July. I will of course keep you posted on my progress.
I also have a personal success to share with you – has anyone received the new 2016 Agriframes catalogue yet? If you have take a close look at the front cover – the photograph is one of mine taken in my garden!! I also have 2 or 3 more scattered throughout the catalogue so I am feeling very proud of myself right now!!
I hope that you enjoyed walking around the beautiful Glemham Hall gardens with me yesterday – you can find the post here if you missed it. It is the time to get sowing with your sweet peas, so I will be back later this week with my annual Guide to Growing Sweet Peas.
Is the weather good enough to garden where you are right now or are you finding other ways to keep yourself amused?