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I’ve been taking a walk around the garden this wet morning, and something struck me. Well, apart from the rain drops that insisted on falling on me, even though I was clearly not attired to be rained upon; I find that very inconsiderate of the weather! Or perhaps I should know better than to walk around in the garden in my bathrobe when there’s a drizzle?

Anyway. Something is missing in the garden.

Tulips in the rain

Look closely at the picture above. See how there is not a single slug in sight?

The dreaded Killer Slugs should be abroad by now, feasting on everything they can lay their what-ya-ma-call-its on.

Peony shoots

The peony shoots are also delightfully slug-free. (Though surrounded by weeds. Ah, well; you can’t have it all, can you?)

Sure, we had a cold and long winter and a late spring, but the Killer Slugs, a.k.a. the invasive Iberian slugs that have been wreaking havoc in Danish gardens over the past decade, are normally quite hardy and should be able to survive even a cold winter as they burrow 6 inches into the ground to hibernate.

Lawn

On a wet morning in May they ought to be out in droves, but they are nowhere to be seen. Not that I’m complaining, mind; I’m perfectly happy if they never return – and more than a little naïve if I think that’s likely…

We do have the native small garden slugs, but they are fewer and less aggressive than the Killer Slugs.

Snail

We also have lots of snails, but again they do much less damage than the Killer Slugs – and are easier to deal with as they are less yucky than 3-5-inch slugs!

Red tulip

Anyway, this means that I have not yet gotten my slug-killing spear out of the shed this year and instead of looking for slugs to kill I can just enjoy the flowers in the garden.

Yellow tulip

I must say, I could get used to this killer slug free style of gardening, but I guess I had better remain alert because sooner or later I’m sure they will appear and then the War On Slugs will be on again.

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Do we have a vampire in the garden?

battle wounds

Nay, it is merely one of the roses – Rhapsody in Blue – that fiercely attacks anybody coming anywhere near it! Including – as you might have guessed – this innocent gardener who merely wanted to weed the flower bed where these roses are located. *sigh*

However, that same flower bed has other, more docile yet still tenacious, inhabitants:

Tulips

Tulips

When they first emerged, the tulips quickly looked destined to serve only as a snack for the deer – which was expected, really – but after the deer ate them all down to 4 inches they seem to have had their fill of tulips, as they have since left them alone.

This means that at least the majority of the 100 tulip bulbs I planted this spring have decided to flower. Yes, I did write “this spring“… I bought the bulbs in autumn, thinking I ought to have time enough to plant them, but then one thing led to another and before I knew it the frost arrived early and the ground became like concrete, so my poor tulip bulbs were left in their sack on the terrace, fully exposed to the freezing temperatures.

Well, it seems these tulips are fully hardy, because without counting I’d estimate a success rate of around 95%. It was a mixed bag with yellow, orange and red tulips – according to the website I bought them from – but so far it seems they’re just yellow and red, giving a rather stark contrast, rather than the more mellow colour scheme I had hoped for. Still, tulips are wonderful in all colours and all combinations, and perhaps the orange variety is just a bit slower than the yellow and red ones. Who knows, who cares. It’s pretty!

Mirabelle

Speaking of pretty… The mirabelle plum tree is looking spectacular – as it does every spring. The picture doesn’t do it justice with its cloud of white flowers taking centre stage in the garden. The cherry plum next to it – and the cherry plum in the lawn – are both more modest in their pink bloom, though the one in the lawn would normally be a match for the white mirabelle blossoms except that we cut it back rather severely last year, so it only has a small number of new branches on which to sport flowers. Both bear fruits that are rather tasteless and dull, but they are pretty and hardy and I absolutely love them!

Dianthus

Now back to the lawn bed where I’ve also planted some red semi-double dianthus. I couldn’t quite get my camera to capture the dark, velvety crimson of the petals, but they are truly lovely. There’s no guarantee they will be able to survive a winter in our moist clay soil, but at least they will look pretty this year and might return next year. I think of them as an extravagance, really, having paid DKK 20 (roughly 2£ or 4$) for each little plant, but then I guess I AM a bit frugal and shouldn’t really knock myself about the head over spending 6£ on pretty flowers.

(Not, mind you, that I don’t spend money on flowers without feeling guilty, but normally they are either larger or cheaper than these dianthus. Like the ‘Peace’ rose I picked up for 6£ yesterday, along with 3 fuchsias at 1£ each. They too will go into the lawn bed…)

Thyme Citrus 'Aureus'

Last week I also picked up this little sweetheart; Thymus Citrus ‘Aureus’; a lemon-scented thyme with variegated leaves. So many times when you buy a pot of thyme it turns out to be dozens of tiny plants in a pot that needs to be separated and planted separately in order to stand a chance of survival, but this is actually just one plant that just happens to be very bushy and pretty. I’m afraid, though, that I shall wear it out, because I keep running my fingers through it to enjoy that lovely lemony scent.

nesting box

The last picture in this entry will have to be a plain old nesting box. It was here when we bought the house 3 years ago, and the starlings seem to like it, because again this year we have starlings nesting. It’s in the large birch trees down by the road, so it’s in full view from the sofa and I’ve really enjoyed seeing the starlings flutter to and from the nesting box with all sorts of nesting materials in their beaks. Now, though, there’s less activity as it seems the nest has been built, the eggs have been laid and we are now just waiting for the hatching…

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panorama

Is it too late to start dreaming about new projects for the garden in 2013? Of course not; if anything it’s too early. After all, I tend to do my main projects in autumn when the garden slows down and – crucially – when there are fewer guests so it’s all right if I make a big mess of things. For me that’s the time to dig new beds, whereas spring should really be more about maintenance and filling out the beds I dug the previous autumn.

After all, when summer arrives I want the garden to look it’s best – whatever that is. This summer “best” will most likely include debris of pine trees scattered over the lawn as we’re cutting down 10 trees on the property line to the North-East; they are boring on our side, dead on our neighbour’s side and prevents our neighbours from getting any sun on their lawn throughout the afternoon, so they need to go. (And when they go, hopefully the hedge under them will fill out and give us a privacy screen at ground level, rather than from 4-15 meters up in the air!)

Last year I dug out The Puddles in spring, and that was probably a bad decision, because it meant I wore myself out digging there and had little energy for the rest of the garden – as witnessed by the non-existence of a vegetable patch last year – but then I dug out the new lawn bed in autumn and that seemed almost effortless by comparison and is quickly filling up with plants. So autumn is definitely the time to execute new ideas, and that means spring is the ideal time to dream them up!

But… What is to be my dream this year? Well, besides the tree-felling there are some “smallish” projects to tackle, like finishing The Ambitious Border so it runs uninterrupted along the length of the South-Western property line, incorporating The Puddles. That’s perhaps 5 square meters to dig out, which is easily done. (Quoth he, knowing full-well that statement would come back to bite him in the posterior!) I ought also to focus on creating more of a privacy screen towards the road, especially in the Woodland area where the Flâneur Husband had a stroke of genius and suggested planting rhododendrons in front of the Woodland; it would give them semi-shade, moderately acidic soil and all in all good conditions, and they will soon be able to cover that open view under the trees. (I have bought two new rhododendrons and suggested planting them in a position where they’d look good but serve absolutely no practical purpose whatsoever, whereas his suggestion combines aesthetics and our desire for privacy in the garden.)

Taking the rhododendrons out for a pint

Taking the new rhododendrons out for a pint

Anyway, I still haven’t decided what will be the “grand project” for this autumn. Perhaps the twin of the lawn bed should be merged with the rhododendrons to be planted in front of the Woodland? That would be quite a project – and it would begin to tie to two “sides” of the garden together. So far I’ve mainly been focused on the South-Western side of the garden because that’s where we tend to spend the most time due to the sun, but that means I’ve been more or less neglecting the North-Eastern side – except for the apple tree which gets plenty of attention, and NOBODY except me is allowed anywhere near it with pruning shears!!!

So what could happen in a large, prominent bed that continues the line of the lawn bed bud extends backwards to the Woodland? Well, the rhododendrons are decided upon, of course, and with the large over-hanging prunes at the back I think I’d want some tall shade-tolerant plants at the back in general. Preferably shrubs, so perhaps just more and more rhododendrons. (We have some that are still small enough to be moved if necessary, and more could be purchased as and when necessary.)  The first lawn bed has a predominance of shrubs – more by accident than intent – as I’ve used it to house roses, black currants, red currants and gooseberries, with an area in front for perennials which has turned out to be heuchera, Eryngium, phlox and other random plants. So the second lawn bed would need something different; perhaps a raised section for plants that like well-drained soil (something we do not have naturally, which is actually a blessing as it means even the hottest of summers will not leave our garden parched!) or perhaps an actual pond – as opposed to The Puddles.

“A pond“, you say? Well, The Puddles have really excited me, and I’d be thrilled to do something larger along the same lines; wildlife friendly, surrounded by dense planting and with a few aquatic plants in there. After all, I already have too many water lilies for my puddles, and the more natural sort would enjoy more depth and space. And of course the animals probably wouldn’t mind, either. Last year I spotted a newt in puddle 1, last weekend I spotted two newts in puddle 1 and today I’ve spotted 3 newts in puddle 1 and one newt in puddle 3…  That’s 4 newts!!! In The Puddles!!! “If you build it, they will come”, they say… Well, it has proven true so far! Today I also spotted some sort of insect larvae of a size where it can only be damselflies or dragonflies…

And all the initial fears about creating an incubator for the mosquito population have been allayed ages ago, since it seems one day The Puddles will be teeming with mosquito larvae and the next they will all have gone, no doubt thanks to the newts and toads. They are a complete success, so I’m at the same time compelled to and daunted by the idea of creating a larger-scale habitat. What if it isn’t such a rampant success? What if it fails miserably? And what if it turns out to be an absolutely marvellous thing?

Clearly I need to think about this a bit more, but the idea – the dream – has been planted in my brain, so we shall see what happens.

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The puddles have been iced over most of the winter, but they seem to have survived quite well; the water lilies are sporting new shoots that are ready to head for the surface soon, and now that I’ve cleared out the algae it’s also possible to see that some habitants are still living there – and some have returned from winter hibernation on land.

Always have a toad in the Puddle

I spotted one toad in The Puddles, but the one pictured above is actually one that was rescued from the drain well where it had fallen in, so I had to fish him out and relocate him to The Puddles where he has a chance to get out of the water if he wants to. Or she; what do I know.

Newt

We also have two newts in one of The Puddles; that’s one more than last year, and I continue to be thrilled by these creatures. When I was a child my Grandmother took us over to the bog to catch salamanders to release in their forest pond, so I’m ecstatic to have them join me in the Flâneur Garden quite of their own volition. I’m hoping desperately that they will decide to use The Puddles for procreational purposes, but I’ll leave that up to them…

Aquatic snail

Another set of volunteer immigrants are the aquatic snails. I really have no idea how they got here, but I guess they must have come as stowaways on some of the plants that I’ve set in The Puddles. Somehow I like these much better than land-based snails and slugs. (Well, except for the Roman snails which I also love.) The largest one has a shell that’s nearly an inch long, so they are not completely tiny.

Of course we also have water beetles, water bugs and lots of other insects – including a population of mosquito larvae that is quickly being decimated by the other inhabitants of The Puddles, much to my satisfaction.

The area around The Puddles looks quite bare still, but the perennials are beginning to shoot and soon it will once again be slightly overgrown and the black edges of the three tubs will be obscured by hostas, sedums, wild strawberries and so on, so I’m chuffed to bits and full of anticipation.

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crocus

Spring finally arrived in Denmark last weekend, and today I arrived in the Flâneur Garden to have a lovely and relaxing weekend here that may or may not include hard physical labour. We shall see about that, all depending on whether the chain saw will work or not. (The chain saw is, by the way, not for the crocuses – or should that be ‘crocii’? – but for the piles of fir logs cluttering the lawn after the Flâneur Husband and one of his friends took down three trees before Easter.)

Crocus

Oh, look, there’s another crocus! The top one was in The Evening Border on the North-West side of the covered terrace, but this one was growing under the hazel bushes. I have no idea how these bulbs came to either of these places, but I’m just glad to see some colour in the garden after all the snow and ice.

I also found a small host of pale mauve crocuses growing under the rather misplaced brambles by the entrance to the courtyard. They really ought to be moved this weekend while I still notice them so next year they can flower in a slightly more prominent position.

Tulips

One flower that isn’t blooming yet but hopefully will is the tulip. Or rather, the tulips. I didn’t get the bulbs in the ground in the autumn as you’re supposed to, so they spent the winter on a garden chair on the covered terrace – ensuring they definitely got more frost than if they’d been 4″ in the ground – but apparently the bulbs I bought were not aware that they should have spent the winter underground, as they seem perfectly happy to grow after I finally got them into the lawn bed 4 weeks ago. I guess some times plants don’t realise – or care – that the gardener is a bit negligent or caught out by early winter.

Puddles in need of clean-up

Things are also growing in The Puddles. It’s amazing how much algae will appear with only a week of spring weather! The tiny solar-powered pumps that normally provide some modicum of movement in the water were taken out before the onslaught of winter, but it seems it’s time to put them back in as soon as I’ve pulled out all the brown leaves and algae – after all, leaf mulch is excellent for beds, borders and whatnot, but not so great for puddles.

Please note, though, that there is also something green growing between The Puddles! The sedum ‘herbstfreude’ are looking very promising, and I almost feel guilty already that I’ll probably be giving them the Chelsea chop in about a month and a half… (Last year the mature plants grew too tall and flopped over into the adjacent puddles, which is clearly not a great look, whereas the new cuttings grew to only half the height and stayed out of the waters.)

In that area – and anywhere else in the garden that I have them – the irises and day lilies are also looking very good. Oh, ye trusty oldy cottage garden perennials; you never let me down! And in The Ambitious Border there are tiny red peony shoots, and the roses of course seem to just YEARN for warmer temperatures so their budding leaves can unfold.

Speaking of roses… I had a small “accident” on my way from the city to the summer house today. I had some waiting time between arriving in the town of Frederikssund by train and leaving by bus, so I did some rather flâneur’ish shopping in a supermarket – a bottle of wine and a box of candles is surely all the sustenance one needs, right? – and then before I knew it I had added a few plants to the basket. One was a “Sutter’s Gold” rose, but there was also a red currant and 10 plugs each of blue lobelias and purple petunias. All are destined for the lawn bed, except for the petunias which will most likely go in pots in The Courtyard. The red currant will fit in nicely with the black currant and the gooseberry that’s already in one end of the bed, and the “Sutter’s Gold” rose will be a nice complimentary contrast to the “Blue Rhapsody” roses in the other end. And the lobelias will help cover some ground so it won’t be too weedy, at least I hope so.

So there. Things have finally thawed in this neck of the woods and spring has fully arrived. Who’d have thunk it just two weeks ago, eh?`

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Well, Summer Time starts tomorrow at 2AM – or should I write 3AM?

Anyway, today was a mix of things. We got up and had to go up to Elsinore – Helsingør is the real name of the city, but I guess most of you will only have heard of it through Shakespeare – for a funeral. A man my Dad’s age who died of cancer last Saturday. It was a friend of my Mother-In-Law’s, so I didn’t know him very well. I liked what I knew of him, though; he was intelligent, well-read and enjoyed talking ancient Danish history and Medieval literature with me whenever we met at my Mother-In-Law’s.

I think, though, that it was the parallel to my Dad’s death that kind of shook me. It was really hard for me to sit at that funeral, harder than I thought it would be. There is still a lingering sadness, remnants of grief. Something – someone – that is not there any more. For all that we didn’t have in common, for all that we didn’t understand in each other, for all that was not right, he was still my father. Was, not is. The past tense can be cruelly acute in certain circumstances.

When we came back to Copenhagen I continued – alone, as I needed some solitary time – up to the summer house. The snow has nearly melted in the garden, though there are still patches of white here and there – and a layer of ice on my three miniature ponds – but spring is coming. Some day, and hopefully soon. I wanted to have a few days alone up here, so I will be here until Monday evening. The lawn is littered with branches and other bits of the trees Denis and one of his friends cut down last weekend when they were up here, but that can wait. After all, the lawn won’t need mowing for another month, given that the ground is still frozen in places and the grass hasn’t grown since November.

I do have some plants to plant, though, if the ground has thawed where they need to go. Astilbe, sedum, phlox, heuchera, eryngium and loads of other Latin names. And I can sow some hardy annuals so they are ready to germinate whenever the soil warms up to 5 degrees Celsius. All right, so it’s a miserable spring to be gardening in so far, but eventually REAL spring will arrive and there will be stuff growing and flowers blooming – and I will be able to get my dahlias in the ground and set the gladiolus and lily corms.

Perhaps later in spring – when we are done with the kitchen rebuild and there will be plenty of weekends in the garden – I might even consider digging out another flower bed in the lawn. The one I dug out in autumn will soon be filled to capacity, so I need more space to plant flowers in. One can attend too many funerals, but one can never have too many flowers.

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Well, first of all pardon the rather crude title of this entry, but it is addressed to the deer that seem so fond of nibbling on our roses and then do this:

deer droppings

I mean, I’m all for getting some free deer manure (well, “free” is an exaggeration; I pay it with perennials, rose buds and whatever else the pretty things like to munch on through the year), but couldn’t they at least be trained to leave their droppings where they have eaten?

If they’re going to stop and smell taste the roses, couldn’t they also leave their droppings there so they return the feeding favour to the plants? Rather than leaving the droppings on the lawn…

Speaking of the lawn… Now that all the snow has disappeared again I’m really happy I got around to giving it that last trim just before frost and snow set in; it somehow makes the garden look “tidy enough” with the cut lawn, even if there are twigs here and there and some leaves that have blown about. And yes, deer droppings.

Lawn in winter

The garden does look rather drab today, though, doesn’t it? Compared to the glory of what it looked like last week, it certainly is less bright and festive, but there are still a few highlights.

Goldenrod seed heads

I love how the goldenrods provide winter interest with their fluffy seed heads that seem to retain their fluffiness in spite of snow and rain; there’s a lightness to them that seem to contradict all the other down-heartened perennials that have given up the will to live – well, at least that’s how they look, though of course they will be back next year – and I love how they move in the wind and somehow look like a black and white version of their old, flowering self.

(Some might even say that their seed heads are more tasteful than the rather garish yellow bloom, but I love that, too.)

I’ll end this with a rather special treat: One of our fir trees is sporting the most stunningly beautiful cones at the moment!

Porcelain fir cones

Okay, the more botanically minded of you might remark that fir trees don’t normally suspend their cones from ribbons – and you’d be absolutely right, of course. Yesterday I did what one does when unemployed; I went for lunch in the Tivoli Gardens in central Copenhagen with my mother-in-law, and she stopped by one of the stalls and bought these two un-glazed porcelain cones that I think are absolutely gorgeous; I love un-glazed porcelain, though it can be quite a hassle to keep clean. However, for Christmas baubles I think it is okay as they are unlikely to get very dirty ever. (Well, unless you play around with them in the garden, of course, in which case you really have to be careful not to drop them.

Now, the reason they ended up in the garden was that while my mother-in-law was carrying quite a generously sized handbag at the time she asked me if I’d have room for the small package in my bag, so apparently they are a present. I think they will look lovely on our tree on Christmas Eve – when my mother-in-law will obviously also be there to enjoy them – and they somehow seem like a very beautiful modern take on the old-fashioned glass fir cones that we also have two of, inherited from my mother-in-law’s mother.

Christmas

I do like them a lot, though obviously new ornaments will never be as cherished as the heirlooms – but ornaments bought at special occasions (like the handpainted baubles the Flâneur Husband and I bought in Pitlochry last year, including the yellow one above that somewhat incongruously features a pineapple and grapes) or given as presents will still rank highly and will definitely find a spot on my tree.

So there, an entry encompassing crap, garden, baubles and family. I wonder what sort of Google search people have to make to end up on this page…

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First of all, let me show you what it looks like these days when I leave the city and go up to the summer house – and the garden…

Snow roadThis is what it looks like when I walk from the bus stop – end of the line – towards the summer house. The road has the forest to one side and some natural plots to the other, so it gives an all-together feeling of being away from the city. You do see houses on the left, but very few – and they are sheltered by trees and hedgerows.

Snowy Forest

To the right the forest spreads out; a mix of mainly oak and beech with pines and larks in-between. And lots of honey suckle, but you don’t really notice these in winter…

Deer Beds

In the garden, the first thing that you notice is that there are several spots where the snow has been melted away, even though it has been freezing consistently for weeks. This is where the deer have lain down to sleep, thus melting away the snow on the lawn. I find this very charming, and today two of these spots were clearly fresh – and there was a third one (top left of the picture) that was perhaps from last night or the night before.

Deer tracks

Actually, the snow makes it pretty easy to see how frequented our garden is by wildlife. Most of these tracks are by deer, but a few of them seem to come from smaller animals with paws rather than hoofs. Perhaps a fox? And of course lots of birds, ranging from the size that HAS to be crows to the smaller ones that might be tits or robins.

Robin / Erithacus rubecula

I have one robin that seems to like the covered terrace; while the great tits and the blue tits come in pairs – or flocks at times – there is only ever one robin at a time on the terrace, and I like to imagine it’s the same one. And now when there’s snow all around it seems – oddly enough – that the tits are less keen on the feeding balls, whereas the robin keeps coming. He/she doesn’t like the hanging balls, though, preferring instead to feed on the seeds that fall off when the tits are feeding, so I decided to leave a feed ball on the paving for him/her, and he/she really seems to enjoy this. (Please note how – apart from the tail and the beak – the bird seems to be as round as the feed ball…)

Snowy Puddles

Also, just because people seem to like this garden feature / folly, here is a view of The Puddles… You can just make out the outlines of the third one at the back, but really they are all frozen over and covered in snow. I hope this means my water lilies will be safe beneath the blanket of snow, but you never know… After all, they are rather shallow, so I might have to start over in spring.

Anyway, back to what this entry was supposed to be about – which was not wildlife, but snow lanterns!

Lanterns in the snow

Strictly speaking, these aren’t snow lanterns, but when the snow is deep enough, why not just immerse lanterns in the snow?

Lanterns in the snow

Now, those among you of a nautical persuasion might argue that I placed the lanterns in the wrong order (red = port and green = starboard), but these pictures where taken from the entrance to the terrace, so clearly they will then be in the right order when you approach the harbour / house. And after all, nautical markers are normally placed so they make sense when you approach port, rather than when you are leaving it…

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On Friday afternoon – November 30th – I was finishing off the last cut of the lawn when I was rudely interrupted by downpour of the non-liquid sort! It was snowing, and even though it was only a very light snow fall I figured one shouldn’t mow the lawn while it was snowing in any description.

So come Saturday December 1st – the first day of winter according to the Danish calendar – I woke up to this:

Snowy lawn

Yes, that is my lawn. All my mowing work hidden beneath a blanket of white which – although pretty – rather destroyed my attempts to make the lawn look good for winter. Not that a snow-clad lawn doesn’t look good, of course, but it would have looked equally good if I hadn’t mowed it… Dammit!

snowy  garden

It does give a certain romantic Christmas feel to the house and the garden, though, when the snow is covering everything. (And that picture was taken yesterday; today it looks even better!)

Snowy garden

This photo was taken this morning. More snow, and yes I know that a phone camera is hardly the right tool to capture the movement of snowflakes, but you will just have to accept the stripy nature of that picture…

Snowy dogwood

The red dogwood branches looked particularly striking with a covering of snow on them.

Oh, if you knew how Spring used to be good!
Snow-white branches, like stretched-out verses,

snow-white on blue.

By day and by night stood my mighty

heart of burning joy

with wide-open door towards each fracture of light

and towards each little sound.

(Morten Nielsen, 1922-1944)

Snowy goldenrods

The goldenrods look amazing in the snow; like white fireworks exploding in the borders! Of course, almost any plant looks amaxing with a dusting of snow; it somehow just seems to negate their brief glory and reassure them that there is another life, another way to be beautiful. Even withered and old, perennials can still be stunning.

(And I must confess, the fluffy spikes of the goldenrods looked pretty damned amazing even before the snow!)

Snowy Puddles

And in-between all this snow there is ice, too. The Puddles have iced over, though not solidly enough for the snow to settle on the ice , yet. Eventually, though, they will freeze quite deep, and I just hope they won’t freeze to the bottom so my water lilies might survive. In normal ponds and small lakes the water will rarely freeze beyond 6 inches, but since The Puddles consist of still-standing water in a very small quantity they might freeze deeper. (And they are only a foot deep…)

Snowy forest

The snow makes the forest near our holiday home look amazing, though; it’s like walking through a fairy tale! I love the forest in spring, but really it probably looks its best with a coat of snow… Everything is so quiet, so muted by the softness of the snow, and even the stark branches of oaks and beeches take on a poetic nature.

We are stuck right between the forest and the fjord, so here’s the other part of our winter:

Snowy fjord

The fjord looks beautiful in proper winter weather; the shore is snow-clad, and the rocks in the shallows show signs of icing-over on the wind-side. I must confess I really want to see this from my kayak, but by now the temperature in the fjord waters will be low enough to kill you quite easily, so I remain ashore.

Snow lantern

And if you have no way of going – safely – to sea, and your lawn is flat and white and dull, what better way to spice it up than by building a snow lantern or two? The Americans might have high-jacked the Jack-o-lantern, but here in Scandinavia we still have our snow lanterns. They are not tied to a specific festival of any kind; merely something you build in the midst of winter to bring some light into the darkness.

Snow lanterns

(The different hues are because I use glass tea-light holders to shelter the candles from the snow beneath, and one happened to be red and the other petroleum green. It looks a bit garish when there’s just the two of them, but if we were to have guests up here I might build enough to make it seem like every snow lantern was a different, glistening jewel.)

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Parsley, sage and brambles

There is a lovely weathered terracotta pot in the courtyard that is home to some parsley and sage, as well as whatever weeds have decided to set up camp there. This is all good. However, when the brambles or blackberries or whatever they are decide to mingle with the herbs I resolutely untangle them and pull them back up on the fence where they should be!

Except this time the bramble vine had not only entangled itself with the herbs; it had decided to root!

Bramble roots

Clearly this sort of unacceptable behaviour cannot be tolerated, so I swiftly yanked up the culprit and went to get my secateurs to put an end to this. I ended up with a rather nice cutting, and clearly anything that will root this easily is most likely a vigorous grower, so off it went to the hedgerow where it can tangle itself up with the barberries and honeysuckles to it’s heart’s content.

Bramble cutting

For the record, it does produce some rather tasty berries, so it’s violent disregard for what should grow where is overlooked for now. BUT DON’T DO IT AGAIN!!!

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