I love all the seasons of the year; Nature always has something to show us if we look. The winter may seem harsh and desolate, but there is a unique quality to plants that can show us colours or scents. A lot of them do flower in the winter or very early spring; others can surprise us with their bark. Some really beautiful plants love to show off in the spring; amaze us with beauty and shade in the summer, give us an autumn show, then continue to say 'I am here' in the depths of winter. Here are some that keep me happy. On the left is Acer davidii, Pere David's maple. This one is mine and although only about 11 feet at the moment, they can grow to 50 feet. They are fully hardy and have beautiful autumn colours. In the winter the green and white snakebark stands out as a contrast. The one on the right is my wife's Acer davidii 'Rosalie'; it is so gorgeous I am envious. It shows off all the time and its bark is fantastic in the dark days of the winter.
I am lucky to have a paperbark maple, Acer griseum. This Chinese maple like Acer davidii is a stunning must have small tree. It is always the last maple to come out, but it is worth the wait. It is usually also the last to give you some spectacular Autumn fireworks with its leaf colour. The bark is stunning all year round and it peels like cinnamon. It is a truly magnificent plant. The bark is shown peeling now on the left; the new leaves have just come out and in the autumn are a firey red.
The wonderful spring leaves of Acer palmatum 'Osakazuki' which have seven lobed leaves (although you cannot see that clearly here), as they are emerging. Then here's my wife's beloved, Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood'. These are surely worth some admiration for everything they give us.
Here are two more I like a lot. On the left is an unusual evergreen, variegated box and on the right is my kiwi fruit, Actinidia kolowikta. This normally has pink tips to the leaves then has the white, but for some reason this year it has decided not to play.
The colour and texture in these common garden plants are remarkable. The blue of the Hosta with its veins showing is lovely to see. We welcome the sight of purple sage, with its colour and its great texture but not a flower in sight!
The following pictures are of a British Native much loved by all. The English Bluebell or Hyacinthoides non-scriptus. This beautiful plant was often found in woodland alongside our wild Garlic Allium ursinum, unfortunately so many people dug it up in some places it has become rare. It is now a protected species and is making a come back.
Another species that most people do not give a second glance to is Annual Honesty or Lunaria annua. This member of the cabbage family is lovely in the spring, and seeds in spots it likes. Some people call this the Japanese Rose, Jews mallow or Kerria japonica. Whatever name you know it as, this year it has been gorgeous.
This tulip is called 'Red Riding Hood', it is a small dwarf tulip in one of my wife's hanging baskets and I like it! I got this photo of a swathe of blue with some red tulips in the sun, so it is blurred a bit and it was taken from quite a distance.
The pansies have been astonishing this year despite the awful winter, but in true pansy form they have not let us down. These are 'Cats Whiskers' pansies. For some reason the purple and yellow ones are smaller than the Burgundy type.
Here are some more just simple colours, but they are still lovely to me!
Although we have had some hot days the nights are cold and the wind quite evil sometimes. This has really hurt the Magnolias and the Camellias, who have suffered quite badly with the wind and rain. There are a few left still coming out, although a lot have gone brown.
My Clematis armandii has been the best I have ever known it. The cold has not bothered it. Even now it keeps flowering and flowering non-stop, its heady scent covering the entire area. Every day I look at this wonderful plant it has more flowers and the scent increases, a wall of this 26 feet long and truly awesome!
At last the Cherry blossom has come out, the cold had stopped it and we wondered if it would ever show up at all. I was worried that we may get leaves and no blossom, but it has done its job in the end. I am quite pleased with these, as they were high up in a tree.
There are also some beautiful white blossoms out as well, these were really high above me.
There are two other things that are always in the garden if the sun is out. My cat is on the left and called Phoenix and one of my wife's cats is here is called Phoebe. There is another one called Oliver but anything that involves moving too far is too strenuous for him.
This photo was a complete accident! I had the camera set on sports motion, and the new lens on full macro power. I was attempting to get a bird in flight. I did not get the bird and thought I had got nothing at all but sky. I noticed a speck on the thumbnail and was hoping it was not something on the new lens. I cropped it and it turned out to be what looks like a spider. I have seen them parachute in the wind on a trailing web, but this seemed high up and moving; there is a vapour trail if you look carefully. This is how it came out; I just cropped it so I could see what it was. I was aiming at a small bird, so where this came from is anybody's guess. Luckily the lens is OK!
Anybody who knows anyone who knows about spiders, send them here!
Thank you for being with me on this tour, even though we did get an errant flying spider.