Spring forward: daffs, birdsong & sycamore for Six on Saturday

More energetic gardeners than me (like the Propagator) plant 1000s of daffodil bulbs each autumn, and are rewarded with a stunning spring display. I managed to plant a few dozen bulbs into a few strategic spots late last autumn and so I have a cheerful scattering of yellow blooms and just a little regret that I didn’t plant many more. Maybe this year I’ll have more time and energy for bulbs. Hopefully there won’t be a lockdown or health crisis, trade crisis, extreme weather event, comet strike, general strike or alien attack, but who knows.

Anyway, here are some daffodils. I wish I’d planted more of them.

Narcissi ‘Minnow’ are a pale, short a scented variety that I put into pots by the front door.
This little vase contains ‘rip van winkle’ daffodil, a miniature variety that I first tried a few years ago and have repeated ever since. It looks like a miniature dahlia.

Above it in the vase is a snakes head fritillary. I’ve planted a few bulbs of these and there are a couple of plants in the front that I could not resist picking. It’s the most gorgeously patterned little bloom…

Down at the bottom of the garden, there’s a cluster of hyacinths, guarded by ‘Scottie’ the little cast concrete dog that was here when we moved in.

I picked a couple to bring indoors. He didn’t seem to mind. These flowers are in a vase beside me now and smell super sweet and springish.

Sometimes it snows in April, as Prince pointed out. And it often hails in March here in the UK. This was the deck this morning, as the sun was coming up. It’s surprising how resilient some of these delicate looking flowers are..

The garden is alive with birdsong this morning. There’s a lot of activity, pairing up, bickering and nesting going on. I saw goldfinches and buzzards this week, as well as the ‘usual’ visitors; blue tits, great tits, robins, wrens, blackbirds, pigeons, sparrows and crows.

On a walk yesterday, there was a very bold robin in the hedgerow by the path to the river Frome. It sang beautifully, and let us get quite close for a portrait.

You can hear the robin singing in the tweet below…

Although this robin is not technically in our garden, I’m calling it my sixth thing this Saturday, and will share with the group of garden bloggers who participate with the Propagator in the habit of sharing Six on Saturday.

And as an optional extra, I want to share what I’ve been busy with lately, aside from my regular work at Vastern.co.uk and Shared Earth Learning. It’s a film, produced by Charly from Shared Earth and presented by Tom of Vastern Timber about the Future Trees Trust, and their work breeding improved sycamore trees for timber. I’m especially interested to hear thoughts on this – I’m convinced that we need more timber, so we need more timber trees, and so this kind of work to breed better timber trees makes a lot of sense, but I’m aware this is not necessarily a popular view.

If you have 10 min to spare, please take a look at our latest film in the series ‘Wood For The Trees’, and let me know what you think.

And as ever, I hope your plans and plants are doing well.

Jen x

9 thoughts on “Spring forward: daffs, birdsong & sycamore for Six on Saturday

  1. Interesting and thought provoking film about sycamore. I do agree with what it proposes, with reservations about it perhaps meaning even more “natural” environment being taken over for crop production. On the face of it hardwoods would be more acceptable than conifers. Would they be grown in monocultures or could they be mixed up? How do you keep squirrels from destroying the trees?


    1. Thanks for your comments Jim. Funny you should mention squirrels as we’ve considered doing a film about managing squirrels. Fertility control is probably the best approach, in my opinion. https://squirrelaccord.uk/squirrels/fertility_control/

      I think that woodlands need mixed planting to be healthier, and without healthy woodlands there’s no timber, so woodland health *has* to be the priority. We made a film about this last year, at the Dartington estate with forester Jez Ralph. https://youtu.be/qVMWCbCaqBs

      Thanks again for your ruminations.


  2. Tom Barnes says that he works for the ‘British timber industry’ AND is also an environmentalist as if they are not compatible. Because I am a horticulturist and arborist, and I work so much with redwoods, people are very often very surprised that I am not trying to preserve every tree in the forests. It is annoying. So-called ‘environmentalists’ do more harm than good here. The local forest were clear cut harvested to rebuild the San Francisco Bay Area after the Great Earthquake in 1906, and then ignored. There is no management here. Consequently, the forest tried to grow back as a mixed forest. It takes centuries for the redwood to exclude other species. Until then, the forest is much more combustible than it naturally is, and burns hot enough to kill redwoods that should survive ‘natural’ fires, which delays recovery even longer. Because redwoods regenerate from their roots, several regenerate for every single tree that was harvested. That is fine for ‘natural’ tree loss, but not for clear cut loss. The scrawny crowded redwoods are likewise more combustible than they should be. Harvesting would be beneficial! No one wants to believe that! Timber companies harvest responsibly, and in a manner that is beneficial to the forest, but are vilified by those who know nothing about responsible resource management.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for taking the time to watch and share your comments Tony. You said something that we’ve been trying to express, which is “Timber companies harvest responsibly, and in a manner that is beneficial to the forest, but are vilified by those who know nothing about responsible resource management.”

      “Environmentalist” is not a well defined term I suppose, and different people might have very different ideas about what’s environmentally ‘friendly.’ In the UK, a small but growing percentage of the public say that trees should never be cut down.

      Thanks again for your comments Tony. You might like our film about society & trees, the idea of ‘wood culture’ and the Sylva Centre & One oak project featured in this film…

      Thanks again for your comments. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m with you on planting smaller amounts of daffodils. If they’re happy they soon bulk up anyway.

    Thanks for the video, really interesting stuff. There’s always more than one way to do something – viewing things in black and white is rarely productive.


  4. Your daffodils are looking great planted in pots. The colouring on the Fritillary is really beautiful, and I have been admiring them in other Sixes this week. I did enjoy the short video of the little Robin. The tree video is very interesting and thought provoking. Responsible management is required, with hopefully no further loss to the natural environment.


    1. Thanks! That fritillary is lovely when it catches the light.

      Thanks for your comments on the video, I really do think that we need to plant lots more trees, but plan for a cycle of management and harvesting, so that we can use more renewable, bio-based materials in the future and stop making stuff out of fossil fuels with all the related emissions & pollution. I hope there’s a balance that can work, where we can get what we need from the land in a sustainable way that works in harmony with the ecosystem.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, last summer, this region and many others were evacuated because of fires that were unnaturally devastating, partly because of so-called ‘environmentalism’. Many of my neighbors lost their homes. Even now, so-called ‘environmentalists’ do not want them cutting down dead trees, and they do not want cut down or fallen trees to be processed into timber. They would rather have the wood wasted because it is part of the ecosystem. Meanwhile, they do not want trees harvested from elsewhere to provide lumber to rebuild the lost homes. It is all so crazy here.


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