We returned to the Dingle Garden and Nurseries for the third time this year, hoping for signs of spring but having experienced such bad weather recently we were expecting few changes at all. We always enjoy a wander around the nursery anyway so that would make up for any disappointments. In particular we enjoy their collections of trees and shrubs.
We soon spotted shrubs we had looked at in detail on our last visit when buds were fattening but not displaying signs of opening. On this our March visit things had not developed at all. However some shrubs further down the slope towards the lake where there was more shelter were in fact in the first stages of bursting into leaf.
The light on this visit allowed the colour and texture of the bark on trees show up far better than in February.
Deciduous Euonymus such as our native Euonymus europaeus, display their heavily textured bark when they are bare of foliage, and Euonymus alatus is a particular star with its winged stems.
A few shrubs had open flowers and looked very special, like gems, among so much deep green of the many evergreens growing on the slopes. Hellebores and flowering bulbs added splashes of colour amongst the undergrowth. The tiny insignificant flowers of Euphorbias sat snuggled into the bright green bracts.
The common native Hazel, Corylus avellena, is far from ordinary. It is an exceptional plant as it gives so much to our gardens. If you plant a contorted variety then you get the strangest of winter skeletons, but with others you get sturdy upright growth and this growth provides us with our bean poles for the allotment. In the first months of each year they delight us with their catkins which look like little lime-green lambs’ tales. These are the male flowers producing mists of pollen on breezy warm days but if you look very closely you may be lucky enough to find a female flower which is a minute deep red flower like a miniature sea anemone.
Buds were just beginning to show the early signs of fattening up when we made our visit in February so we were so pleased to find some fresh brightly coloured leaves beginning to burst forth from them this month.
Fresh growth had appeared from clumps of perennials, with Hemerocallis way ahead of others with the brightest and most advanced growth of all.
Evergreen shrubs have produced new foliage which looks so young with glossy surfaces and extra bright colours.
As we wandered the pathways enjoying the freshness of new growth and bursting buds, we were distracted by surprises and unexpected features, such as this old tumbled-down summer house and a deep fissure in the path where rushing floodwater had flowed beneath the path removing materials.
The stream which we enjoyed watching last month tumbling beneath the wooden footbridge had turned into an angry torrent of water, so noisy that we could hear it from far off. Wherever we were inside the woodland garden we could hear running water rushing down slopes, along tiny streams and over pathways.
Let us hope that by the time of our next visit the garden will be much dryer and the water passing down the site will be back within its banks.